Mayors of Utah Valley

Provo Mayor Michelle Kaufusi says a few words before the demolition of the old Shopko store, which is being removed to make way for The Mix at River's Edge development. March 23, 2021. 

During my State of the City address, I unveiled four key areas of focus based on citizen feedback.

Now known as the Provo Pillars, they become the foundation upon which we will continue to build our strong Provo community. The four Provo Pillars are Economic Vibrancy, Forward-Looking, Welcoming, and Safe & Sound.

Each month, we will be focusing on a Provo Pillar, with May being dedicated to the exciting economic momentum we are experiencing.

Thanks to the support of Provo citizens, construction on our new Provo City Hall is well underway! Once complete, our current Provo City Hall, built in 1974, will be demolished to make way for an exciting 4.5-acre city block redevelopment.

Reimagining downtown Provo

The redevelopment of our existing City Hall block is a forward-thinking, once-in-a-generation opportunity for Provo. It will bring long-term economic vibrancy to downtown Provo while complementing the new Provo City Hall.

“Vibrant” means full of life, energy and enthusiasm — a perfect description for Provo’s economy. With so much positive economic momentum, it is now easier to say what is NOT happening in Provo because we have projects bursting all over the city.

Creating exceptional places

A Request for Proposals (RFP) was issued on May 5, 2020. Ultimately, McWhinney Development from Denver, Colorado, was selected for the upcoming transformation of our Provo City Hall block to become a strong economic driver and a community gathering place.

McWhinney is an active mixed-use real estate developer priding themselves on creating exceptional places for future generations, with one example being the historic Union Station redevelopment now affectionately known as “Denver’s Living Room.”

Telling Provo’s story

Development is at least a 50-year decision and that is why it must be done right! Provo’s historic downtown is already an eclectic draw with 73 unique eating establishments representing culinary offerings from around the world. This redevelopment, with anticipated dining, boutique retail, residential, entertainment and social gathering spaces, will energize our community with even greater economic vibrancy.

McWhinney Development was largely chosen for its dedication and proven success telling a community’s unique story in its development. To create a welcoming and desirable community space, they will begin a comprehensive community outreach to determine what this project should and should not be.

Nation’s best performing city

Cities become an important facilitator of economic growth by providing necessary infrastructure and services. Knowing this, we were honored to take the top spot among this year’s Best Performing Large Cities by the highly regarded Milken Institute. Of the honor, the Milken Institute said:

“Provo ranked first in both one- and five-year job growth while also ranking highly in high-tech industries. It is a relatively new innovation center but offers high quality of life and amenities in the mountain region. With significantly lower costs than Silicon Valley, Provo-Orem has attracted such tech giants as Qualtrics, Vivint, and Smart Citizen.” — Milken Institute

The report highlighted five success measures in which Provo is exceling:

— Job creation.

— Wage growth.

— High-tech expansion.

— Housing affordability.

— Household broadband access.

How to becoming a high-tech hub

According to Milken, “a dynamic, concentrated high-tech sector is still very indicative of economic success, and cities with histories of innovation are more resilient to economic shocks.”

Provo tech start-up Qualtrics made global headlines with its January 2021 initial public stock offering valued at over $20 billion, the largest IPO in Utah history — by far. Qualtrics remains committed to Provo City, having recently expanded its headquarters.

Provo’s long-standing start-up culture

In 1874, the Startup family moved to Provo and started a candy business on 600 South. Today the building’s smokestack still shows paint remnants of its “Startup” name, but it now ironically supports a rapidly growing tech startup culture, offering flexible workspace for upcoming entrepreneurs.

Join the conversation

We want every citizen to have a voice in our economic transformation by following ProvoConnect.com for updates and feedback opportunities.

Read more about this impressive honor from Milken Institute at https://milkeninstitute.org/reports/best-performing-cities-2021.