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Utah County is facing tremendous growth. Construction is up and major tech companies are locating or expanding in the county. And though the area is still experiencing a talent shortage, local business leaders see optimism in the area’s innovative and risk-taking culture.
5.8 percent unemployment rate
520,049 total population
112,488 Provo population
$54,385 median family income
Provo largest city
BYU, Alpine School District largest employers
*Source Department of Workforce Services
We’d like to thank Jeff Edwards, CEO of the Economic Development Corporation of Utah, for leading the discussion.
John Garfield, Provo Marriott; Roger Andrus, UVU Business Resource Center; Les Pardew, Insisto Rector Cap Partners; Brandon Fugal, Coldwell Banker; Jeff Weber, Ancestry.com; Donna Milakovic, Utah Valley Chamber; Lyle Ball, MultiLing; Shane Marshall, UDOT; Mark Packard, Central Bank; Joel Racker, Utah Valley CVB; John Pilmer, Pilmer PR; Brad Wittusen, RedStone Advisors; Andy Shimberg, Vitalsmarts; Jon Anderson, Anderson CRG; Ken Kaufman, Aribex; Cary Snowden, Square Compass; Jeff Edwards, EDCUtah; Todd Rapier, MultiLing; Wilford Clyde, Clyde Companies; Colin McMullin, IM Flash Technologies; Russ Fotheringham, EDCUtah Manager; Jarrod Hunt, Cushman & Wakefield; David Hunt, Symantec Corp Events; Matt Bowman, My Tech High; Cary Robarge, Robarge Collision.
What do you see happening right now in Utah County and what’s the outlook for the near future?
RACKER: The county is changing. The I-15 rebuild will be complete at the end of the year, FrontRunner is working its way down here and Frontier started up air service to Denver last June. New construction includes the temple being built in downtown Provo, the new Innovation Center with NuSkin, the convention center that opened, the multi- million dollar investment that John’s hotel is making next door to us—there is just a lot happening down here.
I joked to somebody that with Mitt Romney, we’re having our “Mormon Moment,” and Provo and Utah County is having its “Provo Moment” right now because things are really happening in our county. I’m sure all of you can attest to that. It’s a pretty exciting time.
BALL: As part of that downtown growth expansion, we’re putting a million dollars into over 20,000 square feet and moving into that in August. The amount of growth and development around us is impressive. In my neighborhood, there are 12 new homes under construction within a half mile, when there was no construction crew in my neighborhood for quite a while there. So it seems to be not only the business economy but the residential economy that is taking off.
CLYDE: From the construction side, building starts are up. A lot of our customers are telling us that they are ahead of where they’ve been for quite some time, and it seems like people are starting to buy again. When residential moves, that means other things are moving, too.
Utah Valley University is continuing to grow. They’ve got a new building that they are starting, and they are working on another building. BYU has a new biological sciences building that’s going in. They’re also working on a new engineering building and they are hoping to break ground on that sometime in the future.
HUNT: One of the benchmarks we see is land sales. We haven’t seen land sales for quite some time because there has been no need or interest in building. This year, we’ll probably sell more land than we have in the last three years combined. So that is a great indicator for us in the commercial real estate world.
SNOWDEN: I live in a brand new neighborhood in west Lehi. I’ve been in the house for about a year. The 30 homes immediately around me are less than a year old. They just opened up a new area and sold an additional 30 homes that they’ve started construction on. So 60 homes will have been built and moved into within the last year, and that’s pretty impressive growth in a small area.
CLYDE: Traffic in that area has been relieved quite a bit because of Pioneer Crossing and 2100 North in Lehi. So you can get down Lehi Main Street now if you want to—although they are redoing Lehi Main Street this summer.
MARSHALL: I think you will see a decline in the orange barrels within a year and a half. I’m not sure if it’s a good thing or a bad thing, but you will see less of them over the next few years.
MILAKOVIC: We’ve seen more businesses investing in the community again. A lot of them had kind of closed their doors and really looked internally at processes, but we do see the doors opening. People are getting out more than they were during the deepest part of the recession. We really see that involvement and that engagement.