Tooele City leaders are working on a plan to create more local, higher-paying jobs so fewer residents have to commute east for a bigger paycheck.
“The number of people commuting out of the county for work has dropped from 65 percent to 40 percent,” said Randy Sant, the city’s economic development consultant. “We will always have commuters, but we would like to continue to lower that number. It will take some time, but we will need to create more professional job opportunities.”
Part of the plan to reduce the number of commuters is to lure high-tech businesses and other professional operations to locate in Tooele City. The city’s redevelopment agency owns land it believes is suited for such companies.
The parcel covers 260 acres southwest of Tooele Applied Technology College and Utah State University – Tooele Regional Campus. The property is now on the market, but buyers will need to meet strict criteria by the RDA.
The RDA, which is the city council and Mayor Patrick Dunlavy, approved to market the land at $56,000 per acre and selected Coldwell Banker as its real estate agent. Sant said the land is being sold at its appraised value.
“We’ve called this corridor of land the Tooele Education Corridor,” Sant said. “We’ve already provided 50 acres for a USU campus. We’ve set five acres aside for a business resource center, which is a joint venture between us (the city) and the university and applied tech (TATC).”
The 260 acres is one of three areas recently designated by the city council last month as a Community Reinvestment Project Area.
“We used to call these redevelopment areas, but the official name now is ‘community reinvestment project areas’,” Sant said.
In addition to the 260 acres, another community reinvestment project area includes approximately 58 acres west of Main Street adjacent to 1000 North. The RDA owns 33 acres in the area west of Denny’s and Wendy’s. Continued negotiations to use the property for commercial purposes is being worked out with the Boyer Company, one of the largest developers of commercial property in the Intermountain Region.
Sant said the RDA is working with the owner of land just north of 1000 North that would add about 25 more acres to the retail community investment project area. Additional land to the west that surrounds All-Star Bowling would also be part of the retail community investment project area.
The 1000 North area is for retail, while the land near TATC and USU would be for professional offices and operations with possible warehouses for those businesses.
Sant said if a company meets certain criteria, the RDA could offer incentives to go along with the purchase of the property.
“With the 260 acres, it could be several buyers or one; we could sell anywhere from 1 acre to 200 acres,” he said. “We’ve had a couple of high-tech companies and data centers show interest. Infrastructure is already in place.”
In regard to retail operations, Sant said Tooele loses business (known as leakage) to Salt Lake Valley for lack of stores that sell men’s and women’s clothing and soft goods. These are the types of businesses Tooele will try to lure to the retail community project area near 1000 North.
“We want to bring in businesses that people want, so they don’t have to go 40 miles out of town to shop,” he said.
Mayor Patrick Dunlavy said the land cannot be sold for less than the appraised price, but several other incentives can be offered to the right company.
A third area includes property farther west along 1000 North to state Route 112. It would be marketed for industrial uses, according to Sant.