March 13, 2013

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Davis and Weber Counties

Article

Davis and Weber Counties

March 13, 2013

Participants:

David Hardman, Ogden/Weber Chamber of Commerce; Mayor Mike Caldwell, Ogden; Mayor Steve Curtis, Layton; Alex Lawrence, Weber State University; Barbara Riddle, Davis Convention and Visitors Bureau;

Brandon Wood, NAI West Commercial Real Estate; Cari Fullerton, Bank of Utah; Collette Mercier, Ogden-Weber Applied Technology College; Darlene Carter, Henry Walker Homes; Jim Smith, Davis Chamber of Commerce; Kent Sulser, Davis County Economic Development; Louenda Downs, Davis County; Marty Smith, Ogden Eccles Conference Center; Mike Bouwhuis, Davis Applied Technology College; Randy Lewis, Orchard Cove; Robert Lindsey, Commerce Real Estate Solutions; Ron Richins, Military Installation Development Authority and Utah Defense Alliance; Sara Toliver, Ogden Convention and Visitors Bureau; Scott Lunt, Davis Conference Center; Sherm Losee, Zions Bank; Steve Cloward, North Front Business Resource Center and Davis Business Alliance; Vickie McCall, Utah Executive Real Estate and Utah Defense Alliance; David Bland, South Davis Community Hospital

We’d like to thank David Hardman, CEO of the Ogden/Weber Chamber of Commerce, for moderating the discussion. We’d also like to thank the Davis Conference Center for hosting the event.

Weber County:

  • 6.3 percent unemployment rate
  • 233,241 population
  • $53,612 median family income
  • Ogden largest city
  • Department of Treasury-IRS largest employer

Davis County:

  • 5.2 percent unemployment rate
  • 312,603 population
  • $64,840 median family income
  • Layton largest city
  • Hill Air Force Base largest employer
  • *Source Department of Workforce Services

Let’s begin our discussion with the economy—what you have seen in the last year and what do you anticipate going forward?

CURTIS: Economically it’s looking very bright in Layton. Housing starts are up. We’ve had a number of new businesses enter into our community, and the economy is working out to be very vibrant, very energetic.

But I wanted to mention liquor licenses. It’s a touchy subject to a lot of people, but it’s very frustrating. The economic growth of the city has been strongly strapped because of the availability of liquor licenses. For major, national restaurants, if they can’t acquire a liquor license, they’re not coming.

RIDDLE: It’s important to note, too, that it’s not just a tourism issue. It’s much greater than that—it impacts economic development and, even beyond that, perceptions and misperceptions that it causes for folks that live outside of Utah.

TOLIVER: The number of licenses are an issue. The normalcy of the way that it’s run and operated is also an issue. There was kind of a controversial issue that arose in the last few weeks with the DABC and the way they had started to interpret one of the regulations. Luckily, that seems to have abated for the time being.

RIDDLE: As you hear GOED talk about economic development, when they’re entertaining potential companies who are looking, perhaps, to move to Utah, of course following them come all of their employees. And they want to make sure that they’re moving to a place that’s friendly to people moving in from outside of the state.

How about real estate? How is the recovery coming for that sector?

WOOD: Vacancy continues to erode. Lease rates have stabilized and some areas are starting to increase again. The number of transactions, number of new companies is increasing—not in dramatic fashion, but they’re going  in the right direction.

There’s been very little new product over the last couple of years, but there is a lot of new product coming online this year. You have 80,000 square feet on Station Park in Farmington, up above the retail for their building—almost all of it speculative. Management Training Corporation in Centerville is doing a twin to their building of 60,000 square feet, all new spec space. U.S. Development will break ground this year on a 60,000-square-foot building next to the Megaplex theater in Centerville.

Couple that with all of the work that Ogden and Weber County and Davis County have done in entitling and preparing industrial and business properties—we have a lot of opportunity here. Those industrial parks aren’t going to be filled with companies that are here already. I really believe we’re at the beginning of something cool.

We’re going to see a real paradigm shift. We finally have the critical mass here in Northern Utah, in terms of product and availability, to where we’re going to see a lot of new companies coming to the area.

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