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The City Café

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An interesting new report has been released this weekend by Brookings called Mountain Megas (you can read the Deseret News article about the report here). America’s Intermountain West is experiencing some of the highest rates of population growth and economic/demographic change in the country. The region—consisting of Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah—has grown nearly three times faster than the United States as a whole over the past two decades. The entire state of Utah has been impacted by this incredible growth, from Cache County to Washington County. The report “describes and assesses the new supersized reality of the Intermountain West.”

The region [Intermountain West] is growing up, flexing its muscles, and distancing itself from California, which historically has had an outsized impact on the West’s development.

The lead author for this report is Dr. Robert Lang, a Senior Fellow of the Brookings Institution and co-Director of the Virginia Tech Metropolitan Institute. Dr. Lang spoke at a ULCT sponsored forum last April, his presentation was followed up by an interesting panel discussion including Soren Simonson (Salt Lake City), Rick Horst (South Jordan), and Mike Coulam (Sandy City).

Not everything is rosy for the Megapolitan regions however. Dr. Lang points out that local leaders have enormous pressure to maintain and keep up with infrastructure demands. This highlights the point that we have talked about before…population growth creates a lot positives, but also creates a lot of costs to local government. Dr. Lang advocates a partnership between federal, state, and municipal officials to address this situation.  With regard to the infrastructure pressure Dr Lang says:

We think the country is so deteriorating in terms of quality of its infrastructure — that they’re so behind — that there will be a moment of shock when the country understands this under-investment will jeopardize its economic development. You would hope that there would be enough at stake that the federal government would gain a recognition of this and realize that this pattern that we’re on is at the nation’s peril.

Robert Lang Forum — April 17th, 2008

Mountain Megas — Executive Summary

Mountain Megas — Wasatch Front Profile

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