Ogden has seen unprecedented growth and success in the last several years, but we can’t keep up our incredible progress if we don’t have a way to move forward. Transportation is a fundamental aspect of a safe, livable community. We have to prepare now for the population increase that will double over the next 30 years. Over the last decade, we have worked to organize and secure funding for the Ogden Bus Rapid Transit Project (BRT). Currently, we are in the final stages of approval from the Federal Transportation Administration in Washington D.C. This 70-million-dollar project would create millions in transportation-oriented development and would put Ogden at the forefront of transportation development in the state! This BRT project will further connect our downtown to the university and provide reliable transportation to employment opportunities for our community. Ogden is ranked one of the top performing recruitment operations in the nation, and we will continue to lead in business development as we invest in our transportation infrastructure. With all of this expected growth comes the responsibility to look at all forms of transportation, over the course of my office we have created a bike/ped master plan, invested in complete streets embraced all forms of alternative transportation and have connected our community by building a walkable, inviting downtown. I love Ogden and want to see such major projects through for our community.
Everyone in our community deserves to feel safe. We’ve made significant gains in the last several years, but in order to make a lasting impact on the long-term safety of our community, we have to take a multipronged approach. It’s our responsibility to provide our public safety departments with the resources they need and continue to develop quality neighborhoods by addressing the issues of distress and blight.
Over the last four years, we’ve taken our responsibility seriously, and have made great strides in both of these areas. We have consolidated public safety department functions to provide more resources to address repeat criminal behavior and have implemented technology from the Real Time Crime Center to dramatically lower crime rates (nearly 20% decrease in the last year alone). In the last year alone, we’ve seen a decrease in crime of 20%. Our progress and ability to blend information and data to make our community safer makes Ogden a leading example of success in our state. The quality neighborhood development program has put close to 10 million dollars a year into reclaiming entire city blocks. We have rehabbed old rentals, drug houses, and blight for a total of 242 homes which are now owner occupied. We are creating safe, walkable, and playable neighborhoods for our community.
Education is the corner stone of economic development and public safety, and I believe that the mayor’s office has a responsibility to Ogden residents to collaborate with our university, technical college, and school district to build bridges between education and community. When I was first elected mayor, the relationship between Weber State and Ogden City had sat dormant for years. Now, I am proud to say that we are seeing success through the College Town Initiative and the recently opened Weber State Downtown. We’ve partnered heavily with the school district to build new STEM programming to make sure our students are ready to enter the job market. The relationships between educators and the city are growing every year to the benefit of our current students and future workforce, and the New Bridge Stem Magnet School downtown is a great example of that partnership. I’m Proud to have had my own daughters in the Ogden School District. My oldest daughter just graduated from the IB program at OHS and was one of only 3 students in Utah to receive the prestigious US Presidential Scholars award.
My office knows that we can’t grow and develop without using our resources wisely. Since 2012, we have seen over a 5% increase in our tax base annually which is the highest rate in two decades, and we’ve worked hard to put that investment too good use. Growing our tax base reduces our need to increase taxes to provide essential government services and support our school district. In addition to increasing our tax base, we have fostered an environment of creativity for small-businesses. Embracing the entrepreneurial spirit is just one of the many things that sets Ogden apart from other communities. Our Businesses information Center participated in three local industry-led entrepreneurial training programs which produced more than 150 Ogden-owned business graduates in the last year. Ogden City’s small business loan program has supported up to 14 local businesses annually. While we continue to foster an environment for growth for local businesses, we will continue to attract larger companies and remain one of the nation’s highest ranked communities for advanced industry employees.