FARMINGTON — Davis County is “open for business.”
That message was emphatically shared with the Davis Chamber of Commerce earlier this month by County Commissioner Louenda Downs.
Arguably one of the biggest county boosters, she said “Davis County has a heart. It’s the people that make Davis County what it is.”
Downs compared the county’s story loosely with the Secretariat, the famous race horse.
“Secretariat started with a few strikes against him,” she said. “he would always start his races in last place. People weren’t sure what he was going to do, but he would always win by enormous lengths.”
The award-winning horse died at 19, and an autopsy revealed his heart weighed 22 lbs., nearly three times that of the normal horse.
“That’s what enabled him to really go, to do what he did,” Downs said, comparing that to how Davis County is on the rise.
“That’s why the economy is thriving. Good people are behind education and training, and we’re making a great quality of life for businesses who want to come here. We’re doing well in the race,” she said.
The Layton resident recounted some little-known historical facts that she learned with the help of Bill Sanders, Layton Heritage Museum curator and historian.
Among those tidbits:
• In 1850 they discovered oil on the shores of the Great Salt Lake near Centerville. Until 1890 the oil was extracted for use in lamps, but no one knew what to do with the natural gas side product.
• The county started as an agricultural powerhouse, the breadbasket. The Gleason Fruit Tree (Early Elberta) was invented here.
• Mining was important, including a uranium mine in Kaysville. Gold and silver mines were in the benches, but not real prolific.
• The county’s vital transportation link was developed early on, with railroads such as Brigham Young’s Utah Central and later the Bamberger.
Better known but vitally crucial to local development was the startup of Hill AFB in 1939=1940, along with other defense facilities in the county’s north end. The base is still the state’s largest single-site employer.
Today, diversification is key, with emphasis on assisting those businesses already in the county to become stronger, Downs said.
Other efforts range from preparing suitable vacant sites around the county for use by prospective buyers who want to expand into the county; further development of the Information Technology cluster; continuing to encourage jobs that pay more life-sustaining wages, allowing people to work within the county, closer to home.
“A lot of good things are happening,” Downs said. “We really are open for business. We’re moving in an upward direction, in one of the areas of the nation and state that is doing well.”
Downs is the current county commission chair. She is completing her second term and has chosen not to seek re-election.