I begin this week’s column with a momentary flashback. It’s the summer of 1969 and I’m at my grandparents home on the corner of Main Street and Shepard Lane in Farmington. My cousins and I, still breathless over the recent moon landing, are playing “astronaut” on a sturdy Sycamore branch. My Grandpa is simulating lift-off by shaking the branch with all his might. We laugh hysterically until the youngest of us (the same one who will ultimately become an Air Force jet pilot) begins to cry.
Grandma hears our shrieks over Walter Cronkite’s narrative about thousands of rebellious youth gathered in upstate New York. Distressed, she calls out from the kitchen for “Daddy” to send us across the street to Uncle Nephi’s store for Purple Cows.
One of my first experiences with trickledown economics comes when I give Uncle Nephi one dollar for four grape soda floats. He gives each of us a quarter in change. The math seems just dandy to us.
Grandpa stands on the edge of the yard to tell us when we can safely venture back across busy Main Street.
“Those cars come zooming by here, at least two every minute,” grandma complains to Mrs. Manning over the heavy, dialer phone that sits on top of their old Philco radio. She correctly assumes that Mrs. Bauer is listening in on the phone’s party line.
As the day comes to a close, my cousins and I venture through the vacant fields to the chicken coop and stir up Grandpa’s poor hens just as they are beginning to roost. He gets after us, but it’s 6 o’clock on a Friday evening in Farmington. What else is there for kids to do in 1969 but play a few rounds of Angry Birds?
Venture forward to the summer of 2012. An air -conditioned bus idles in a parking lot not far from where the chicken coop once stood. Thirty developers, real estate agents, and city planners gather for the fourth annual Economic Development bus tour of Davis County.Some have come by car on Legacy Highway. Others have ridden the Front Runner to the Farmington Station.
Over the next three hours, the group will tour Davis County commercial projects from Syracuse to North Salt Lake. They will see a dozen large projects in every phase of development, from barely poured foundations to fully finished multi-million dollar shopping and entertainment venues.
Not one of these projects existed four years ago, let alone 43 years ago. Most have been on hiatus for the past three years while the local economy ground slowly back to life. But they are kicking now. They demonstrate a renewed willingness by renters, home owners, manufactures, and retailers to sign leases and invest money in Davis County.
The group travels from city to city, hearing pitches, watching progress, and patching into the rest of the world with pocket-size devices; every one of which holds more processing power than the warehouse-sized computers NASA used to guide Neil Armstrong home 43 years ago.
As we conclude our tour, Farmington Station’s million dollar fountain shoots towering blasts of light-infused water in perfect time with a booming hip-hop soundtrack. Dozens of high-end retail stores surround the show. A commuter train rolls into the station. Kids play Angry Birds on their iPhone 5’s. They have no idea what a startling transformation has taken place around them.
I think to myself, “This is not my Grandpa’s Davis County.” Do I miss it? Certainly. But would I forego the technology, the innovation, the variety, the convenience, and the opportunity of today to bring back the simplicity of 1969? Yes, but only for a momentary flashback.
John Pitt is an Economic Development Executive for Logistic Specialties