As we’ve neared the end of 2016, I have had some time to reflect on this extraordinary year. Scrolling back through my blog, I can say it’s been an interesting year in Provo. I am proud of the progress we’re making and the citizen engagement we see daily. So, in the spirit of end-of-the-year-list-making, I’d like to present Ten Exciting Things that Happened in Provo in 2016.
10. The first ever International Women’s Day in Provo: This year Provo City joined the global celebration of women. We had a breakfast, a lecture series, an art gathering, a bike ride, a concert and a huge dance party. We have an immense amount of talent in our women of Provo and I look forward to celebrating again in 2017.
9. Duncan Aviation: made a huge announcement to expand their Provo Airport campus. This will add an additional five hundred high-paying jobs.
8. Bike Collective: We were so happy this year for our awesome Bike Collective to finally get their own home in the Joaquin neighborhood. As Provo becomes more and more bike friendly, we hope our Bike Collective continues to see robust community support for years to come.
7. Provo Towne Centre Mall: is now under new ownership. We believe this new direction will not only bring in exciting retail to the mall, but revitalize the entire East Bay area. We look forward to new stores and new restaurants. *Photo by the Daily Herald.
6. Provo Pulse: As a mayor who greatly values citizen engagement, I was interested this year in trying a survey application developed for cities by Qualtrics (a great Provo company). By sending a link to surveys we produce, we can get feedback almost immediately. This opt-in, citizen engagement program makes for another tool in our tool kit–along with social media, email, and old fashioned knocking on doors (which I still love).
5. New Allegiant flight to San Diego: this was a fun announcement to make this year at the Stadium of Fire! The expansion of our Provo Airport and out-going flights continue to make our airport the second busiest in the state. I have confidence there will be a lot more flight announcements to make in the future.
4. Provo Power Smokestacks came down: Provo’s skyline changed a lot this year when Provo Power’s twin towers were retired this summer. Though their demolition was short (and well-attended) it was also bittersweet. For some, those smokestacks were a proud signpost to visitors that Provo is energy independent. For others it marked the beginning of a new direction into clean and renewable energy. Either way, we’re proud of the work Provo Power does in connecting our city to energy, and the new Provo Power building is well-designed and will be standing for years to come.
3. Lakeview Parkway: the new west side connector opened this fall. It connects travelers—in cars or bikes—to the westside, specifically to our airport. We believe this connector will ease traffic for our west side residents, but also bring in smart development—both housing and retail. Perhaps my favorite part about this new road is the beautiful views you get of the lake and wetlands. It’s worth a drive.
2. Velour’s Ten Year Anniversary: it’s hard to quantify how much a small business like Velour, and owner Corey Fox has enriched Provo. It was on his stage our music scene grew from local shows to globally successful bands. In ten short years Provo has become known for more than just Cougar Football, but also for incredible musical talent. I enjoyed the year-long celebration checking out a few commemorative shows that Corey put together. If I had to quantify the value Velour has given Provo, I would say a lot.
1. Completion of the Provo City Center Temple: perhaps the saddest day for me as a mayor was the day our beloved Provo Tabernacle burned down on a cold December night. All was renewed this year when the world celebrated as the LDS church opened it’s doors to visitors to the newly remodeled temple. Because of this event, we played host to almost 800,000 visitors in our downtown area. And our downtown hasn’t been the same since. The new addition to our downtown has been transformative.
As it happens with these lists, I feel like I am leaving so much out. Needless to say, I am proud of our work here in Provo and I look forward to the year to come!