BY TOM BUSSELBERG
FARMINGTON С You could say Davis County’s economy is running with increasing horsepower, these days.
And it’s horsepower that would move a lot more than a sub-compact.
“We’ve been doing better than the state, and certainly better than the national average,” said Kent Sulser. He is the Davis County director of Community & Economic Development.
In terms of jobs, the county’s rate stands at 4.3 percent, a bit better than the state’s 4.7 rate. Nationally, 7.3 percent were listed as out of work when the October jobless figures came out last Friday.
More people are working close to home, as well. There are 108,000 jobs based in the county, said Tyson Smith, regional economist for the Utah Department of Workforce Services.
That counts those who commute into the county to work at such places as Hill AFB. It also counts those who may have a five-minute drive from their home in Bountiful to a job in Centerville, for example.
Growth of jobs within the county is a focus for people like Sulser, who want to create “sustainable” jobs close to home. Those are defined as paying enough that people can live and work comfortably Р not minimum wage positions.
Manufacturing continues to gain momentum, locally, both Sulser and Smith agree. In fact, a bigger proportion of Davis County jobs are in manufacturing than is the case nationally.
United States Cold Storage is building a 200,000 square-foot facility in Syracuse. That’s about the size of a large high school. It will initially employ 60 people, Sulser said.
The nearby Freeport Center, a mammoth eight million square foot facility, houses 70 manufacturing, distribution/warehouses and other businesses. It is 100 percent full, Sulser said.
“Professional and business services jobs are also expanding in Davis County,” he said. Again, many of those jobs tend to be family sustaining in terms of wages and benefits.
Examples include the second multi-story Management & Training Corporation building that is rising on Parrish Lane, adjacent to MTC headquarters.
New professional office space is also planned in Centerville, including adjacent to the IMAX theater.
The Henry Walker Homes headquarters will be based there. The up-and-coming construction firm will be based on a 70,000 square foot building there, Sulser said.
Beyond the glitz of new restaurants and retail stores, a major part of Farmington Station is its office space. Law firms and other professional groups have already located there, sometimes moving operations from Salt Lake City, allowing partners and others to work close to home.
Further north in Clearfield, plans are to start construction early next year on a new transportation-oriented development (TOD), the first of its kind in the county, Sulser said.
The TOD will tie into the Clearfield FrontRunner station stop and is a stone’s throw from the Freeport Center. It will include apartments, limited retail, and some office/manufacturing space, Clearfield city officials have previously told the Clipper.
As far as shopping destinations, which also create many jobs, Sulser said Farmington Station “is going to exceed what Gateway was” before City Creek Center opened.
“It will be a gathering place for Davis County. I think that it will continue to grow and develop,” Sulser said of Farmington Station.
The 33-year-old Layton Hills Mall isn’t going away, however, Sulser emphasized.
“The mall still has a good presence. These other sites may have a little bit of a competitive nature to them, but that mall is still solid,” he said.
To take from the old “climatized mall” phrase that the now defunct Cottonwood Mall used to use, Sulser added: “It’s sometimes awful hard to shop elsewhere when it’s cold and snowy outside.”