In the last eight months, nearly 6,000 new jobs have been added to the county’s job force. That’s either through expansion of existing businesses or the arrival of new enterprises.
And while the county’s joblessness still stands at about 7 percent, that is still better than the state level, which is just a bit higher. And it certainly portrays a much better employment picture than the national average of 9 percent-plus, and even higher in some areas.
Credit for this job growth, of course, must be attributed to many different people, agencies and factors.
As was noted in a Tuesday afternoon meeting of the Davis Unified Economic Development group (DUED), just being in Utah, these days, helps attract potential expanding businesses.
That’s because of such often repeated factors as the relatively high education level attained by many residents, the work ethic, and cheap electric power.
It also helps that the typical Utah/Davis County wage rate is about 10 percent below the national average. That helps make the state very “business friendly.”
But Davis County and its 15 cities also work very closely on seeking to bring new business to the county, as well as assist the backbone of business that is already here.
It’s just another positive reason for which the county is known — as a place that works together rather than North vs. South or one city against another — as often happens in other places across the state.
Creation of the Davis County Department of Community & Economic Development several years ago showed commitment by county leaders to building the area’s jobs and tax base.
Being such a residential/bedroom community means a greater portion of the property tax burden is borne by homeowners than in many other counties, such as Salt Lake or Weber, which have more of a manufacturing/retail and industrial tradition.
Kent Sulser, the county’s economic development director, and Marlin Eldred, department assistant, have worked hard to include all cities in a pro-active process.
That has meant creating SURE sites, or those areas that are prime for development for manufacturing, commercial, office or retail uses.
When the Governor’s Office of Economic Development contacts the county about possible sites, it can quickly draw on this ready reference of possible places.
“There have been thousands of acres of ground that have been rezoned with the intent to preserve for development,” Sulser says.
“Davis County is moving forward in great strides with support from local communities we are positioning ourselves for new growth; we are a big part of the Utah story,” he adds.
Earmarking of those sites has helped stem piecemeal subdivision development. Yes, housing is vital. But now there is also a place in the planning fabric to provide what hopefully will be life-sustaining jobs, close to home.
County commissioners have also put their weight behind economic development, creating such grass-roots groups as DUED. Its members range from bank presidents to the chamber of commerce CEO, contractors, education and government officials, to the convention & visitors bureau CEO.
As noted in a news article in this issue, such developments as Farmington Station and the Larry H. Miller Megaplex, along with others, are not the norm, either in Utah or across the country.
In fact, Steve Rush, the Northern Utah manager for Rocky Mountain Power, who also is a Layton resident and very involved in the county, cited the county’s growth as a reason the utility needs to continue to upgrade its power supply network and infrastructure.
Davis County is taking pro-active measures in line with the growth in population it has experienced. It still can be a “bedroom community,” but also provide the jobs, recreation, and services needed for a population that now exceeds 300,000 people.