Herriman city council candidate answers: Economic development
I would like to sincerely thank the four candidates for taking the time to address my questions. I have included links to their respective websites and/or Facebook pages below.
Here is my original question for the candidates on the topic of the economic development:
Apparently, Herriman isn't a sure bet for economic development since the roads through Herriman don't take traffic much of anywhere else, there are no large industries in Herriman, and our population, while growing, is still smaller than other cities around us. The city needs more economic development to expand the city's tax base and to provide residents with services that will make Herriman a better place to live.
Again and again, we see cities like Riverton and South Jordan get business development that seems like would do well in Herriman and eventually get a lot of business from Herriman residents.
If elected, what economic development measures will you push for?
Our city needs to create an economic hub. Currently we are missing this. As a city we should have a vision of what we want to become and seek out those types of companies and incentivize them to come here. We have failed to lure businesses here because we don't have any true anchors. Prior economic planning and development officers have not done a good job in this area. We need to actively encourage growth and development.
Currently, our city is substantially supported tax wise by the number of building permits issued. If there is a down turn in building, city taxes will have to increase. We do not have enough business base to support the parks and amenities we currently have. So, economic development is vital to our city's success. Having high density housing near commercial businesses and the addition of TRAX will greatly influence business coming and having enough support to stay.
This is obviously a passion of mine. I was the first economic development director at the city, so I spent time building a foundation. I worked on rebranding the city so the first impression of the city better reflected the young, vibrant community we are. It was controversial and personally challenging to replace the wagon, but I felt it important to show we were a growing city. I had actually received comments from potential developers asking if we were a "podunk town". Knowing you have precious little time to make a first impression before they move on to another location, I felt strongly we needed to update our look and feel with a branding that reflected us accurately and in a more progressive light. I hope this shows that I'm willing to make tough choices that I feel are best for the city. I was the target of much negativity from those who had been in the city for years and resisted any change, but I was willing to deal with the backlash because I felt it was where we needed to go. The ultimate result was developing three brand-consistent logos: the wagon was redone with the green/grey colors and will now designate our historic area; the H with mountains became the city logo; and the buildings (Herriman Rising) logo shows our desire to have commercial/office/industry within our city.
It was the last logo I used in developing our first ever economic development packet to be given to developers, the Economic Development Corporation of Utah, site selectors and to be taken to the annual International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC), the largest trade organization for the international shopping center industry. I was the city representative at the Las Vegas trade show for four years. Under my direction, we were the only city in Utah to have a freestanding booth at the show. Again, I hope this shows you that my goal is to shake things up, do things differently than have been done in the past and always look "outside the box".
With the help of Zion's Bank Public Finance, I also developed our first Economic Development Strategic Plan that mapped out our assets, our competition and made goals moving forward. I don't know if it is being followed to-date. It was a good plan and I would immediately revisit it, update it if necessary and then vigorously follow it. I would also propose we hire a full-time economic development director. We do not have one now and I think it would be valuable to give that sole responsibility to an individual, rather than have someone who is already wearing multiple hats and stretched thin. I think the announcement of Riverton's large development only reinforces that opinion.
I also launched the Economic Development Committee while I was there, now defunct. This was intended to get all stakeholders around the table: business owners, developers, property owners, residents, chamber representative, those with helpful connections, realtors, etc. It was this committee that originally conceived the Shop Local program. I would start this again as simply one tool of many to move our economic development efforts forward.
We do have an economic development challenge in Herriman due to our location geographically, our lack of freeway/highway frontage and our current rooftops. While it is a challenge, that does not mean we can't and shouldn't be highlighting our assets and looking for our niche. I was instrumental and part of the team able to locate Salt Lake Community College in Herriman and I think that's a good example of finding "out of the box" ways to grow Herriman. There is tremendous opportunity to cluster industry, commercial and retail around the campus. I would ramp up the effort of helping the college secure funding and move the Herriman campus up on the "to-do" list of SLCC.
The recent legislative change of car dealerships allows Herriman to be a player in this market and we should be aggressively seeking out possibilities here, as well. Car dealers now require more land, making built-out cities like Sandy, no longer viable. This is the reason three dealerships have left Sandy for South Jordan--available land. Land is an asset Herriman has in abundance! Let's work it.
What I bring to the role of a city council representative is the desire and ability to make solid working relationships with developers, property owners and brokers that we need to grow our city. Antagonism with those who invest in our city only hurts every single resident, whether they know it or not.
The most important thing we can do is to protect our commercial zoning. Developers always want to build "right now", but that usually means homes, not a commercial base. We must protect our commercial zones. As a City, I will work with the rest of the City Council to promote Herriman to businesses in places like the annual ICSC conference.
For a city to compete well with other cities in the area of economic development, you need leaders with a keen understanding of the playing field. While all candidates have good ideas and good intentions, only one candidate stands out with significant breadth of knowledge and experience in this area.
One area of economic development that none of the candidates specifically touched on is industrial, perhaps because it's not sexy like shopping centers and restaurants. But industrial development provides jobs and tax revenue for the city, isn't tied to population/rooftops like retail, and is generally stable. I know there are areas on the southwest side of Herriman that are zoned for industrial businesses and with the proximity to Mountain View Corridor and Bangerter Highway, you'd think it would be a no-brainer, but there has been no visible new development of this type in the city.
My pick on the topic of economic development is Nicole Martin.