BY ANGIE OSGUTHROPE
Davis Chamber of Commerce
Ever since Brigham Young, Utah’s first urban planner, declared that the streets of Salt Lake City should be 132 feet wide, the leaders of Utah have envisioned the future and attempted to make good decisions in the best interest of generations to come. Of course, planning for an unforeseen future is difficult at best. Add to that the more than a million people that demographers are predicting will descend on the Wasatch Front in the next couple of decades and it becomes even more of a challenge.
Government services, utilities, air quality, water, energy, land use, economic development, education, transportation, health, and housing are just a few of the issues that must be addressed.
I have been impressed for the most part with the forward-thinking approach that our local governments and community members have taken to some serious challenges facing us. With differing philosophies there is not always consensus but we seem to be able to come together and move toward common ground on most issues.
With my position at the Davis Chamber I have been privileged to be involved in some of the organizations that are planning for the future. My experience has been that these organizations are well-intentioned with well-thought out plans and projects that address the challenges of our growing area. Just a few of these organizations are:
Wasatch Front Regional CouncilСthe WFRC has brought together five agencies and developed Utah’s Unified Transportation Plan that provides a summary of the anticipated 30-year transportation needs for the state. This long-range plan reflects Utah’s approach to providing transportation choices to its residents while responding to the upcoming population and job growth. Utah was the first state to bring together all the players with a plan that spans the entire state.
Also, Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) which emphasizes building compact, walkable communities centered around transit systems will become another increasingly-used development concept in the coming decades.
STEM InitiativeСInitiating from the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, the STEM initiative supports the advancement of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math educational endeavors and encourages youth to pursue a career in these fields. With Utah’s emphasis in aerospace, manufacturing, and other industries, jobs often go unfilled for lack of qualified candidates. The STEM initiative will play a role in Utah’s educational excellence, job growth, quality of life, and economic development.
Prosperity 2020 also plays a role by encouraging the increase of Utahns with post-secondary certificates or degrees, the increase in elementary students proficient in reading and math, and the increase in high school graduation rates.
Envision UtahСEnvision Utah is a group of local Utahns that believe “How We Grow Matters.” Their mission states: “Envision Utah engages people to create and sustain communities that are beautiful, prosperous, healthy and neighborly for current and future residents.”
To accomplish this the group is facilitating the Your Utah, Your Future campaign to establish a shared vision for the future. They use interviews, mapping exercises, surveys, etc. to glean residents’ opinions on issues such as education, energy and infrastructure, water, jobs and economy, etc. They then use that information to develop different possible community scenarios.
There are many other organizations that are helping plan for our emerging state. Here in Utah we enjoy a high quality of life, amazing natural beauty, and a prosperous and growing economy. We need to continue to look ahead and make wise decisions to protect these blessings that we enjoy. We each play a part in the Utah that we will see in the decades to come. Let’s make an effort to get involved and leave a bright future for our children and grandchildren.