For far too long, too many county residents have, out of necessity, traveled over the mountain to work along the Wasatch Front (and spend their money). They simply cannot make ends meet on local, Cache Valley wages.
In the “Envision Cache Valley” growth plan which is our roadmap for progress to date, the need to “attract good-paying jobs, close to home” is mentioned repeatedly, but without further comment. The plan considers the demographic shift as Cache County’s population grows, and is a valuable guide to anticipate infrastructure needs and land multi-use development. However, there are concerns that are under-addressed. Concerns that are critical to our future
In Cache County, ‘managing growth’ has generally meant the protection and disposition of the land. Although an important objective, and one essential to supporting agriculture, and maintaining our rural heritage and lifestyle, the needs of today’s Cache County are more extensive. Our growing population requires housing solutions, commercial, educational, and public services support, and perhaps most importantly, jobs whose wages keep pace with the rising cost of living. Cache County need no longer remain one of the bottom counties in Utah for personal, household income. How do we move up?
Working with the county’s new Economic Development Director, I would create a forum to bring business and industry leaders together to develop a working, job-based, economic development master plan. This would be a separate ‘critical path to productivity’ from our current, land-based ‘Envision’ initiative. Which higher-paying industries do we want? Where would they be best located? How will we bring them here?
When a large-scale employer expands or relocates, the decision is typically the result of negotiating with the host community. It is not unusual for multiple cities to compete for the opportunity. And it’s not just about subsidies or economic incentives. Cache Valley has real estate, a great work-force, a lower cost of living, wonderful recreational, and outdoor opportunities, a diverse and professionally managed art scene, and the best lifestyle in the state.
I’ll form an ambassadorship to reach out and promote Cache Valley to desirable, targeted industries, as well as working with employers now here, and local businesses. “Attracting good paying jobs, closer to home” will no longer be a brief mention in an overall growth plan, but an independent, high priority for your community leaders, with a detailed plan of its own to make it happen.
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