While many local citizens may want to close Tooele County’s front door to stop more people from moving in — or at least bring an end to the daily traffic chaos on state Route 36 and Interstate 80 at Lake Point — an idea comes along that may inspire some to think differently about the challenges created by continued growth.
The root of that idea, which may lead to improved problem solving for the community’s betterment, is to think bigger instead of smaller. Simply summarized, we all may be missing the bigger picture while focusing too much on smaller details.
Such thoughts come to mind after Utah gubernatorial candidate Jon Huntsman Jr. visited Tooele County on Nov. 22. As reported in last Tuesday’s edition, while here he visited Tooele Technical College and Utah Motorsports Campus, and stopped for lunch with local officials at American Burgers in Tooele City.
He also stopped for an interview with the Tooele Transcript Bulletin. Huntsman, who served as Utah’s 16th governor from 2005-2009, U.S. Ambassador to China from 2009-2011 and U.S. Ambassador to Russia from 2017-2019, offered his insights about local issues a candidate for the governor’s office would be expected to share.
He said he sees quality jobs coming to the state and Tooele County is well poised to share in those jobs. In fact, he sees manufacturing and other higher-wage jobs coming to the county because “… Tooele County has the land, access to modes of transportation — air, land and rail …”
Part of that growth he sees as a result of the Utah Inland Port that the state wants developed on 16,000 acres of land in northwest Salt Lake City — and only minutes away from Lake Point and Stansbury Park.
Huntsman noted although the inland port would be positive economically for the state, he is concerned about potential negative impacts it would have on the environment and growth. Yet, despite the inevitability of growth, Tooele County’s asset of “livability” can be maintained, he said.
This will be achieved by additional transportation modes and routes in and out of the county, and by creating more jobs in the county — “the kind of jobs that people are commuting into Salt Lake to find,” he said.
Improved modes and routes, and more local higher-paying jobs, are well-known issues here. But then Huntsman offered an idea that may not be so well known but may make real sense for the county’s future.
“Some say that Utah is the crossroads of the country,” he said. “I think we need to think bigger. Utah — including Tooele County — has the potential to be the crossroads of the world.”
For Tooele County to become part of the “Crossroads of the World,” its leaders and citizens have to think bigger in terms of solutions and opportunities. And that means expecting more than just settling for what we think we deserve.
Becoming a crossroads is nothing new for Tooele County. The county was a crossroads for thousands of emigrants during the mid-19th Century as America pushed west to the Pacific. It’s poised to become a different crossroads in the early 21st century. Thinking bigger will certainly be a requirement to achieve that goal.