I’ve always admired Condoleezza Rice. I first met the former National Security Advisor and later U.S. Secretary of State during the 2002 Olympic Winter Games when she attended the opening ceremony. A year later, in Washington, D.C., I was fortunate to visit with her at the White House. And while I admire her grace and stature, what I prize most is her well-informed insights.
I love the state of Idaho. I love the spectacular mountains, the rivers and the farmlands. I enjoy visiting the small towns and view Boise as an up-and-coming metropolitan area with an urban vibe. I love Sun Valley in the winter or summer and always welcome the chance to take my family there for a getaway. Mostly, I appreciate the people of Idaho for their friendliness, hardiness and industrious spirit. We are fortunate in Utah to have such a wonderful neighbor to the north. Read More
Hosting the Olympic Games is not for the faint of heart. The spotlight is bright, the logistics are complicated and the cost is substantial.
Nobody knows this better than Rio de Janeiro, the host for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. The Rio Olympics have been beset by extraordinary challenges, including the Zika virus, doping scandals, serious crime, environmental problems, political mayhem and the nation’s worst recession since the 1930s. Read More
When my daughter got her driver’s license, I remember asking her if she could find her way around town. She turned to me with a confident smile and said, “I know how to get to The Gateway.”
Her answer spoke volumes. A 16-year-old, newly minted driver who lived in the suburbs of Salt Lake City knew the directions to a downtown shopping destination eight miles away. The Gateway was THE place to go, and she had found it. Read More
You can always tell when a pot of water is ready to boil. Hundreds of small air pockets begin to accumulate. Within seconds the tipping point occurs and the boiling begins.
While not a perfect comparison, a similar phenomenon is occurring at the nexus of Utah’s two largest counties. What locals call the “Point of the Mountain” is reaching an economic boiling point. The growth of Salt Lake and Utah counties are coming together. It’s the most significant change in Utah’s urban dynamics in a generation, and it presents significant economic opportunity.
Like a pot of hot water, the boiling signs have been present for some time. The area from Lehi to Draper is teeming with life. I’m told this stretch of land along I-15 has more commercial real estate transactions than any other area in the state right now. New businesses, restaurants, and residential developments are thriving. Major technology firms like eBay, Adobe, Xactware, IM Flash and others call this area home, and more are on the way.
Importantly, the area is near equal distance from the University of Utah and Brigham Young University, with Utah Valley University and Salt Lake Community College cradled nearby. The location around the Point of the Mountain maximizes access to many Utah institutions of higher learning.
Also important are significant transportation investments in the area such as the rebuild of I-15 and development FrontRunner commuter rail. Investment creates the catalyst for an economic boil, and Utah taxpayers have literally paved the way.
So what’s the difference between a very hot pot of water and a rapid boil? For this area the answer lies in the relocation of the Utah State Prison. We have a single landowner — whose purpose is to serve the public good — in charge of 700 acres of prime real estate. There is a significant state interest in directing this development towards the greatest state benefit.
Legislators recognize the opportunity and feel the urgency. State Sen. Jerry Stevenson recently said, “We only have one chance to do it right.” He’s spot-on. Utah’s two largest counties will only connect once. There’s no other 700-acre plot of land in the area that the state can direct to a public purpose. Once it’s done, it’s done.
Success is not guaranteed. To avoid boiling over or boiling dry, this area of the state will benefit from a meaningful public process that creates a vision for the future. The state should carefully study multiple options with the regional economy in mind. While important, this decision isn’t about the interests of any single local government entity, but rather regional economic growth. To be successful, the area needs smart planning and zoning, appropriate infrastructure investment, and a talented workforce, all while enhancing the life quality of residents.
I believe a careful planning process will reveal several important things need to happen. TRAX light rail should extend further southward servicing Adobe and other employment centers. Ultimately, rail service in this area should connect with activity centers in Orem and Provo.
The gravel pit will need to be reclaimed into a mix of developable and preserved lands. I envision a beautiful urban park with convenient access to the Wasatch Mountains and Jordan River Parkway.
Communities will need to provide and have funding for the very amenities people want — biking and pedestrian trails, restaurants and recreation within walking distance, more transportation and housing choices, and environmentally conscious development. We know from experience that tech-smart workers can work anywhere they want; they will choose places with life quality.
Salt Lake County is home to one out of every three Utahns. Utah County is home to nearly one in every five Utahns. These two economic behemoths are now coming together. This intersection is creating the most significant urban development opportunity in a generation. The Point of the Mountain is the place to be. Let’s develop it right.
Natalie Gochnour is an associate dean at the David Eccles School of Business and director of the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute.
This week in Utah, the Sundance Film Festival is well underway. With an estimated attendance of more than 45,000 people the festival has a significant economic impact on the state. The Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute contracts with the Sundance Film Festival each year to conduct a study of this economic impact. Read More
The Utah Jazz experienced a breakthrough last year when the franchise traded Enes Kanter and promoted Rudy Gobert to the starting center position. The Jazz have played better basketball ever since. The trade created an inflection point that produced improved chemistry and defense. The young team passed a threshold. Read More
It’s been close to two years since I’ve eaten sushi. My daughter was born last October so I abstained while I was pregnant and it’s been hard to find time for a leisurely evening out ever since.
Finally, early last month, the stars aligned when my husband and I were able to schedule a night out at Takashi, our favorite restaurant. As any SLC sushi aficionado knows, Takashi doesn’t take reservations for small parties. You show up, get on the list and wait. As the same aficionado will also know, however, the wait is always worth it! Read More