Chamber Chat: Taking survey will affect Utah’s future
In 1990, the population of Colorado had reached 3.3 million, an amount similar to the number of residents in Utah today. Colorado was also about to experience a population explosion.
Within 10 years, Colorado’s population increased by 1 million people. By 2010, the population had reached 5 million. Today, Colorado’s population is closing in on 6 million.
I spent my high school years in a community south of Denver (in similar fashion to my life today in a Utah Valley community south of Salt Lake City). Back then, it was impossible to imagine the growth that was coming to the I-25 corridor. Today, that north-south freeway cuts through an essentially solid metro area extending nearly 100 miles from Fort Collins to Castle Rock.
Utahns can look to their eastern neighbor and see their future. Utah was the fastest-growing state in the nation from 2010 to 2020, and its population is expected to grow from 3.4 million today to 5.5 million by 2060 — a 63% increase.
With this incredible forecasted growth in mind, Utah Valley community, government and business leaders began meeting with members of the public in 2018 to consider the best ways to handle the coming growth while maintaining the valley’s exceptional quality of life. This project was called Valley Visioning.
Through public workshops and surveys that involved hundreds of contributors, a community-supported vision for growth was created and released in November 2020. This vision document is used as a guide by local communities and governmental agencies in the valley as they plan for future growth and its impact on areas such as housing, transportation, natural resources, education and more.
Now, the state of Utah has begun a similar conversation on a statewide level called Guiding Our Growth, and you are invited to participate.
Just as the Valley Visioning process collected Utah County residents’ opinions regarding how growth should be handled, Guiding Our Growth is seeking input from residents statewide on how to best maintain Utah’s quality of life as growth occurs. The effort, which began in 2021, is being led by the Utah Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget, which has teamed up with a variety of organizations throughout the state.
These organizations include the state’s seven associations of government, the Utah League of Cities and Towns, Envision Utah, the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute, the Utah Land Use Institute, the Department of Workforce Services and the Utah Valley Chamber of Commerce. The effort is funded by the Utah Legislature.
Guiding Our Growth has the following goals and anticipated outcomes:
- Educating Utahns on growth facts.
- Helping Utahns explore and understand the effects of different growth options on our state’s water, housing, transportation and open space.
- Soliciting input on community growth preferences and potential solutions to manage growth.
- Generating a series of “Big Ideas” (strategic investments or policy direction) for decision-makers to guide our growth and preserve what makes Utah special.
- Supporting local and regional planning efforts by sharing public input and perception information.
Guiding Our Growth is expected to continue through the end of 2023.
You are invited to participate in this effort by completing a survey found at http://guidingourgrowth.utah.gov. This survey asks questions related to four different subject areas: housing, water, transportation and open space/recreation. Survey respondents are asked to share their zip code so their survey questions are tailored for the area they live in.
The survey will yield the opinions and priorities of state residents, which will then be shared with local and state elected officials to help them make informed decisions about Utah’s future. The outcomes could impact funding recommendations or policy directions or lead to additional outreach efforts on key topics.
A lot of changes are headed Utah’s way, and now is the time to plan for them. Let your voice be heard through taking the Guiding Our Growth survey today. Let’s all work together to keep Utah one of our nation’s best states to live in.
Curtis Blair is President & CEO of the Utah Valley Chamber of Commerce.