Utah County is Expected to Get 1M New Residents in the Next 50 Years. Here's How Leaders are Planning for the Growth

OREM — While researchers note Salt Lake City is, and will likely remain, the economic epicenter of the Beehive State for the foreseeable future, Utah County has become the primary engine of the state's nation-leading growth.

Projections anticipate that a full third of the expected 3 million new residents who will call Utah home in the next 50 years will make their way to Utah County. And, Utah County could surpass Salt Lake County in total population by 2065 — a swap that's sure to alter the dynamics of the entire Wasatch Front.

With an eye toward that anticipated influx of 1 million new residents, and their attendant needs in housing, employment, education, recreation and transport, Utah County leaders this week launched a visioning and planning effort in hopes of staying ahead of that curve and maintaining the quality of life that has become one of Utah's biggest selling points.

Economist Natalie Gochnour, associate dean of the University of Utah's David Eccles School of Business and director of the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute, said two primary factors will continue to drive the growth of Utah's second most populous county.

"It really comes down to proximity and land availability," Gochnour said. "Right now, there are about 230,000 acres of developable land in Utah County while Salt Lake County is down to 30,000 to 40,000 acres. When businesses and residents locate to Utah County, they get the less expensive housing and commercial real estate but still have easy access to the arts, culture and entertainment amenities centered in Salt Lake City."

The Valley Visioning Project launched at an event at Utah Valley University this week and is aimed at crafting answers to these questions:

  • How can travel in and through Utah County remain convenient?
  • How can we grow jobs that pay competitive wages and that ensure people can live and work in the same area?
  • How can we prepare our kids and recruit talent to fuel economic and job growth?
  • How can housing be kept affordable so that future generations can live near where they grew up?

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Deseret News Tue, 11/20/2018 - 09:34