July 18, 2012

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Valley Station Shows Heber’s Economic Vitality

Heather Stewart

July 18, 2012

Heber City’s Valley Station development is continuing to attract national retail brands to the small town. The development is anchored by a Walmart, which opened last year, and a long list of retailers has since joined the project.

Located along Highway 89 at the south end of the city, Valley Station now includes Maurice’s, Rue 21, Dollar Tree, Chase Bank and Kneaders Bakery & Café. A Famous Footwear store opens today, and GNC and Sports Clips will open next week.

The spurt of retail development both fills a need in the growing community and contributes to its economic expansion, said Ryan Starks, director of Heber Valley Tourism and Economic Development.

“In tallying up the jobs from these projects, it’s around 335 to 350,” he said. “A lot of the workforce is commuting outside of the valley, and this gives them the opportunity to stay here.”

Retail has been severely lacking in the Heber Valley, which is undergoing a population boom. “To find a pair of shoes was difficult, or a dress shirt,” said Starks.

Many residents have turned to Park City, Provo or Vernal for shopping opportunities. According to Starks, a recent “leakage study” found that $20 million a year in tax dollars is leaving the area as residents spend money in nearby counties.

“If we can catch those dollars and keep them here, it will provide a tremendous economic boost to the community,” he said.

Valley Station is being developed by The Boyer Company, and Starks estimated that it is about 50 percent built out—leaving plenty of room for additional growth. He said four more national chains have already committed to Valley Station.

While retail was the initial thrust of Valley Station, office and industrial may eventually be developed there as well, said Starks. “The biggest need that we had was retail, but now non-retail commercial businesses are becoming interested in Heber,” he said.

The success of Valley Station is starting to attract new economic development in the county. “More businesses are inquiring now,” said Starks. He noted that companies have been keeping an eye on Valley Station to see if retail businesses can thrive in Heber.

Two boutique stores have already opened outside the development, and an Auto Zone is set to open later this summer.

In recent years, Heber City has seen phenomenal growth in its residential population. The latest census data shows that Heber City has the fastest growth rate in the state, said Starks. And Forbes recently ranked Heber as the fifth-fastest-growing small town in America.

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