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Chris Barnes, Candle Warmers Etc., Mike Bouwhuis, DATC, Lloyd Carr, Carr Printing, Steve Curtis, Layton City, Louenda Downs, Davis County
Marlin Eldred, Davis County, Dave Forsberg, MarketStar, Tom Freeman, Commerce Real Estate Solutions, Dave Hardman, Ogden/Weber Chamber
Dave Hilliard, Davis Conference Center, Steve Kieffer, Big-D Construction
Alex Lawrence, WSU and USTAR, Vicki McCall, Utah Defense Alliance
Dave Millheim, Farmington City, Scott Parkinson, Bank of Utah, Bob Rice, Syracuse City, Ron Richins, Utah Defense Alliance, Barbara Riddle, Davis Area CVB, Tim Shumate, ATK Aerospace Structures, Jim Smith, Davis Chamber, Marty Smith, Ogden Eccles Conference Center, Jeff Steagall, WSU, Kent Sulser, Davis County, Sara Toliver, Ogden/Weber CVB, Brandon Wood, NAI West, Colin Wright, Henry Walker Homes
7.0 percent unemployment rate
$60,433 median family income
Ogden largest city
Department of Treasury-IRS largest employer
5.7 percent unemployment rate
$72,272 median family income
Layton largest city
Hill Air Force Base largest employer
*Source Department of Workforce Services
Let’s start with Davis County. How is the area’s economy faring?
J. SMITH: There’s been some really good, positive momentum. We’ve had new businesses coming into our county, into our different cities, a lot of it related to Hill Air Force Base or to the composites training. Our legislators seem to be going into the legislative session with a little bit of optimism this year, and that’s a positive thing. At the chambers, we’ve also joined ranks with not just our two counties but also Cache and Box Elder in a coalition of chambers that gives us a little bit bigger voice.
We see retail strengthening. There’s still some concerns with the small businesses, but in general retail is looking better. I think that’s all because of some improved basics. We’re starting to see some positive feelings on housing and construction, things like Station Park in Farmington and developments in Centerville. There’s just a lot of good things that are happening right now.
Some segments and some companies seem to be doing exceptionally well; one that comes to mind is the medical industry. When you combine Lakeview Hospital, Davis Hospital and Intermountain Healthcare—we’ve got companies that are not just winning awards locally, these people are winning some national recognition for healthcare. That’s a bright spot for Davis County right now.
SULSER: Two items that come to mind. One is optimism, and the second is really long-term sustainability for the region. I applaud whatever happens along the Wasatch Front. When Weber County gets a win, we applaud you folks. We think that there’s so much relationship and synergy that’s created regionally, we have to think like a business. They strip away county boundaries. They look for opportunities within their sectors, and so we applaud your successes as we applaud our successes.
It is all about jobs in the region. Specifically to Davis County, we’re experiencing a 6.6 unemployment rate. Utah collectively is 7.1. The nation is 8.5. We’re almost 2 percent below the national average. That is occurring because of the synergy and the opportunities right now at hand. We’re close proximity to Salt Lake and we have great partners to the north.
How about Weber County?
HARDMAN: We’re seeing some growth as well. I’ll first just mention a few things on the retail side. Our auto industry is moving along really quite well. Most of the larger dealerships are seeing growth. They’re not up to ‘07 standards but are seeing growth year over year for the last two years. This says that the economy is warming up a little bit. People are realizing that they are more stable in their employment and are willing to make a commitment and buy automobiles, which is the second-biggest purchase that they make.
Looking at general retail, it was a good holiday season for most of our retailers, especially those that are a little more established. Some of the smaller Ma and Pa retailers are still struggling. A lot of that is the capital needed to get their merchandise assortment up to where it needs to be. We’re seeing some new retail come in. Our malls and major shopping areas are doing extremely well, but still under the peak that we had in ‘07. They’re optimistic that if the economy continues to go as it’s going right now, we’re going to have some gains again in this year.