March 1, 2012

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Northern Utah

Utah Business Staff

March 1, 2012

What are the counties and cities experiencing as this economy is slowly moving forward?
CURTIS: We’re very fortunate in Layton to have not really experienced a heavy problem with the downturn. As far as housing, though, that has slowed, but it is on the up and up. So housing starts as well as occupation of existing new homes is moving along.

On the commercial side we feel very, very good about what’s happening in Layton. Our Business Research Park on the east end of Layton is progressing along really well. So I feel very good about how the economy is doing up in our neck of the woods.

DOWNS: Davis County actually led the Wasatch Front in job growth. We had 4.5 percent job growth. That equated to a gain of about 4,600 jobs. So we’re moving in a good direction. Are we where we want to be? No. But we’re much farther ahead than most places in the nation—we’re in a great state.    

Because we have shovel-ready sites, we’ve been able to add East Gate. We’ve had our Station Park in Farmington. We have our Park Lane Commons that have gone in. We’ve got Falcon Hill that we’re still watching. Even though it’s slower than we would like, it’s moving, and that’s kind of a win for both counties. We’ve got Eaglewood Village going on in the south end of the county. And we’ve got a lot more shovel-ready sites.

From that perspective, Davis and Weber are headed in a very good direction and we’re much healthier than most places. And we know we still have to push and continue to promote and work on things, but we’ve got a great crew, great businesses, great groups that are bringing new business to the area.

MILLHEIM: For a city to be successful it requires a three-legged stool. First, you need a good housing stock—a broad mix of all types of housing so you can meet the needs of all income levels. In Farmington’s case, as well as many Davis and Weber cities, we’ve done that. We’ve got a good cross-section of all housing types, and that’s really helping our economy.

The second leg of the stool is really good retail/service space. Now, Farmington is playing catch up with that. Station Park is a huge impact on that, and we’re growing. Our sales tax increase trend is at the top of the charts right now statewide. But really we’re just taking those dollars from somewhere else and bringing them over to Farmington. But you need that economic base from a sales tax standpoint.

The last thing is you need jobs. And so we’re pushing a business park that’s going to be a big part of our focus. Look at Falcon Hill, at Freeport Center, at what Syracuse is doing with the recent Ninigret project.

According to IRS records there’s 146,000 full-time wage earners in Davis County. About 42,000 of those leave Davis County every day, and they’re either going a little north or they’re going a little south. I think we’re going to see that trend come down. And $5-a-gallon gas is going to have a huge impact on that.

Davis and Weber have incredible geography. It’s been kind of an underutilized unknown, if you will. We’ve treated ourselves as bedroom communities to Salt Lake and other areas. And I think you’re going to see that paradigm shift a little bit.           

RICE: To me, jobs are No. 1. It’s not housing. It’s not retail. It’s all about jobs. Ninigret represents 1,200 potential jobs for northern Davis County. The business park will be in Syracuse, but it’s a regional job center and it’s all about jobs. The center of gravity for everything we do with the economy is jobs. We know that not all those people that work at the Ninigret Business Park will live in Syracuse, but that’s OK. It’s all about partnerships and regional development.

FAIRBANKS: I think my message today is that I’ve been a proponent for a long time of avoiding territorialism. We have to keep in mind that if a project happens in Davis County, Weber County, Cache County, southeastern Idaho, even Salt Lake, it’s all healthy and it’s good as long as it’s somewhere in the region, and there’s spinoff businesses. That’s why we’re worried about Hill, because of all the support businesses that deal with Hill besides the employees that work there directly.

Discuss the area’s industrial development projects.

FREEMAN: Our marketplace is very healthy, especially in the industrial sector. It was one of the least affected sectors in our marketplace. We see positive growth. We trend the market quite significantly to understand what dynamics exist. Obviously composites are a big part of that. The manufacturing sector as a whole seems to be rebounding for us.

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