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Voice of Business: Chasing and catching up to growth
Dec 01, 2013 | 3166 views | 0 0 comments | 22 22 recommendations | email to a friend | print

By Jim Smith

Davis Chamber CEO

"In the past, Utah chased growth like a dog chasing a bus,” said Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams at the Wasatch Choice 2040 Consortium held last month.  “We just weren’t sure what we would do with it if we caught it!”

Well, we did catch it!  Utah’s population growth has exceeded the expectations of those planners back in 1997.  

In the 1980s Utah saw a recession, some large employers close their doors, and seven straight years of outmigration.  In the 1990s we saw growth that was not well planned, resulting in congestion and air pollution.  But Utah’s statewide ethic (probably inherited from the Pioneers) is “stewardship”, so action was taken to do something about how we are using our corner of the world.  That “stewardship ethic” led to the creation of the Quality Growth Strategy that became, and still is, Envision Utah.

Now we are facing even more growth, with expectations that population will double by the year 2040.  That means we need to retool the work done by Envision Utah and update it for today’s reality and tomorrow’s potential.

That is why Governor Gary Herbert announced his new initiative “Your Utah.  Your Future (as reported in the Davis Clipper).  

This is the next step for Envision Utah.  We have never seen an initiative this large.  According to Governor Herbert, “Utah is a fast growing state, the third fastest growing state in the nation and I don’t see that changing.”   Most importantly, the Governor said, “We have the fourth most diverse economy in the United States.”  

That diversity Р we have many successful industries and we don’t have our eggs in one basket - gives us an amazing advantage as we move forward.

This “Your Utah, Your Future” initiative will be a two year process and is designed from the bottom up.  

You and I, everyday citizens, will determine the direction we want our future to go.  I don’t have space to explain the entire “visioning process” but will do so in next month’s article.  

It involves input from thousands of Utahns who will decide how we will live, where we will work, and what kind of environment we will create.  Indeed, we are actually creating the environment in which our children and grandchildren will live and work.

This campaign will become more visible to us in the upcoming months.  It will begin with surveys designed to “Explore Choices”.    This will last through the summer of 2014.  

 I encourage you all to get involved in this process and let your voices be heard.

The Davis Chamber is working on the issues that matter for us to manage this projected growth.  Along with Envision Utah, they include education, energy, transportation and communication infrastructure, a fiscally solid state government, and more.

Governor Herbert shared with us a compliment he received from a midwest governor.  “Utah has all the other states in the rearview mirror.”    

My observation is that the Pioneer ethic of stewardship is alive and well in today’s Utah, in spite of demographic shifts in recent decades.  Said Governor Herbert,  “This is still the right place!”


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