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Orem – Utah Valley University, in partnership with the City of Boston, the City of Philadelphia, and 23 cities throughout the UVU service region, will launch a unique office aimed at reinventing local government in Utah and across the nation.
The UVU Office of New Urban Mechanics (ONUM) will serve as an entrepreneurial civic innovation hub for local cities. The office will help cities pilot new programs or concepts that will save money, engage residents, or improve service delivery and customer satisfaction. It will also give students from all disciplines the opportunity to conduct advanced applied research, while developing civic knowledge and skills.
UVU’s ONUM is modeled after the offices in Boston and Philadelphia and is the third office in the New Urban Mechanics Network, and the first one based in a university. While the Boston and Philadelphia offices are based in their respective mayor’s offices, this next node of the network will be based at UVU and partner with the mayor’s offices throughout the region. All three offices will work together as they develop a knowledge and practice network of what works and what doesn’t in local government innovation.
“Utah has a strong reputation for government innovation, and as a university we are proud to serve communities led by forward-thinking mayors and city council members,” said UVU President Matthew S. Holland. “New Urban Mechanics will catalyze these commitments by adding flexibility and capacity to cities, thereby enabling them to operate faster, cheaper and smarter.”
The University’s ONUM will be directed by Luke Peterson. Peterson has been with UVU since 2011 and leads UVU’s efforts to develop corporate and community partnerships. Prior to this role, he served as the director of tourism and economic development for Wasatch County. He is a graduate of UVU and of the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, where his interests first turned toward government innovation.
“I have had the opportunity to learn from some of the best minds and practitioners in the field of government reform,” Peterson said. “In my previous work in local government in Massachusetts, Iowa, Rhode Island and Utah, I’ve had a chance to apply those principles. I’m excited to help place UVU at the cutting-edge of this field.”