Utah continues to get accolades from around the country. U.S. News and World Report found our state the best state in the nation overall for 2023, for things like fiscal stability, tourism, education and health care, our natural environment, infrastructure, and low crime. Washington State took second place, whereas Hawaii got #1 for health care and natural environment, New Hampshire #1 for opportunity and crime and corrections, Minnesota #1 for infrastructure and Florida (believe it or not) #1 for education. Utah has also been ranked number one for business several times during the past decade according to Forbes and recently BusinessWire reported that Amazon found Utah to be the most entrepreneurial in the country.
In July, checkr (a background check company) found that Provo is the biggest boomtown, the fastest growing city in the U.S. Their metrics describe a city that experiences rapid economic growth and development in a short period of time. Factors include not just population growth, but unemployment rate (Utah’s rate is that @ 97% of our population is currently employed), housing growth, high-earning residents making more than $100,000 and the poverty rate. Of the 10 fastest growing cities, Utah had 4 of the 10-Provo, St. George, Logan, Ogden. Our neighbors in Boise City and Couer d’Alene Idaho took #2 and #3, Bend, Oregon was #4 and Reno, Nevada took the 10th spot.
No matter how you feel about living in Utah, we’re doing really well for a majority of our citizens. We actually have a surplus in our state coffers which very few states can claim. On the flip side of the good news, no town in Utah made the ‘Slowest Growing Cities’ list. The closest slow growth town near Utah is Casper, Wyoming, which made #22 on the bad list.
With growth comes issues that are challenges for our population and our politicians. Poor air quality, high energy consumption, traffic, congestion, increased levels of inequality and homelessness are results of uncontrolled growth. As we speed up growth and urbanization we need to ensure that we have adequate planning for our futures in the state. Having served as a volunteer Planning and Zoning Commissioner for 8 years in Salt Lake City and now as a member of the Historic Landmarks Commission I can highly recommend serving to help your city. It’s not only fascinating to learn about what folks want to build, develop, tear down or improve, but really fulfilling to be part of the process of urban planning. Each city has a way to be involved, by submitting a resume to serve on various commissions and committees. Often, they look for people who live in and represent certain areas of a city, and you don’t have to be a politician, have a college degree, be an architect or contractor to listen and eventually help make good decisions for all of us to build better cities and town.