This blog post is a repeat of information found in the September newsletter in case you missed it. At the end of this post you will find some new information that was not in the newsletter.
I have been asked to share more information regarding economic development in Eagle Mountain, our plan, and what it means for the future of our city.
We approach economic development a little differently than most cities–because we are different than most cities. Eagle Mountain is one of the fastest growing cities in the state (averaging about 4,000 new residents a year, with a current population of about 37,000); one of the youngest cities in the country by average age of residents; geographically the third largest city in the state and the largest in Utah County. Add to that the fact that Eagle Mountain is a bedroom community with little industry other than residential development. We are pretty much one big neighborhood at the west end of SR-73.
Our rapid growth and lack of commercial tax revenue has required creativity to fund needed infrastructure and other city services. And yet Eagle Mountain remains one of the most affordable cities in the state. However, if this growth trend were to continue without economic development, at some point, a lean city government and creative thinking would not be enough to hold down property taxes. For this reason, economic development is vital to the future of our city.
I know economic development can be confusing to the lay observer. It is natural to question why some businesses come and others don’t.
All brand retail establishments have strict guidelines that determine where they will consider locating new facilities. There is no salesmanship or pleading that will convince them to abandon the formula for success and financing that they have established through years of business experience. Because we are a community with very little drive- through traffic we do not meet the requirements for larger retail at this time.
However, we have a plan. Our plan is to focus our energies on recruiting companies that do not need drive-through traffic. We are looking for what we call an “industry cluster.” These are companies that will bring other companies and cluster together. To use a metaphor, instead of hunting single businesses that are so hard to catch they take a lot of time and energy, and even if we catch them they yield little meat, what we have done is built a watering hole for businesses to gather around.
The industry that is a good fit and clusters nicely is the data center industry. I won’t go into all the reasons why data centers are a good fit but I will mention how they fit into our overall and long term plan.
First, data centers have very little negative impact. Specifically they do not add residential growth to an already bursting-at-the-seams city. However, they do bring good paying jobs to the city and they bring a lot of support companies including large construction contractors.
Not only will this bring other data centers but from now on it will mean wallets in the city during the day. Right now most of our working population leaves the city to work, eat lunch and shop outside of the city. Now that we will have a growing workforce that comes here to work, and will want to spend money at close convenient locations, Eagle Mountain will be more attractive to retail and support businesses. Soon there will be over 1,000 construction workers at the Facebook site. They will want somewhere to eat. That means restaurants will want to compete for those dollars, which will employ more people. Then a car wash, a gas station, an auto repair, more restaurants, another school, another grocery store, etc. will come in their time and all bring jobs to the area.
So though we don’t control what companies come, we can create an environment that will bring businesses to Eagle Mountain and through that effort, your favorite restaurant or store will eventually want to be here.
Now, these details may make it sound like Eagle Mountain is destined to become one big commercial complex but that is not the goal. The goal is to become a uniquely balanced city with numerous recreational options year round, including an abundance of preserved open space. In fact, Facebook and other technology companies that will follow will partner with the city to make it a better and healthier place.
A few news items I did not mention in the newsletter are that Quick Quack car wash has been approved to go in near Ridley’s and Comcast has informed us that they intend to bring their services to Eagle Mountain next year. Also, we will soon be adding another two hundred and forty acres to our city as preserved open space for wildlife and recreation along our border with Camp Williams.