It’s no secret that our communities are growing as our Utah economy continues to thrive. In fact, according to University of Utah’s Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute, Utah County is projected to increase by 177 percent from 2015 to 2065, making it the fastest- growing county in Utah. With the boom of Silicon Slopes and other industry giants moving into the community, it’s no surprise the once-small towns and cities occupying our county are now burgeoning with opportunities. And, situated in the heart of it all sits American Fork. Centrally located along I-15 between Provo and Salt Lake City, American Fork is embracing its role as being the hub of North Utah County and preparing for the future.
Readying the People of Our Community
Like many neighboring cities, American Fork has experienced unprecedented growth. Last year alone, the city issued 795 building permits, the most ever issued in a given year. Despite misconceptions of outsiders being responsible for the huge housing demand, data shows the majority of people moving into our communities are our own children and grandchildren. The fact that younger generations are moving back to American Fork is a testament to the parents, teachers, leaders, businesses and neighbors who have shaped the community into a desirable location to live.
American Fork City also works closely with the school district to share assets like community gyms and pools, which better utilizes taxpayer money. American Fork City and our school district are also collaborating through a new program called Communities That Care (CTC), a national program that uses data and community involvement to target issues specific to the community. Through a cooperation among city, school, businesses and residents, youth who come from towns with a CTC program are 33 percent less likely to initiate cigarette use, 32 percent less likely to initiate alcohol use and 25 percent less likely to initiate delinquent behavior.
Readying the City Employees of Our Community
American Fork has built a team of great city employees with forward-thinking attitudes. As a municipality, a city differs in many ways from a regular business or corporation. Cities can’t measure success by profit margins or by counting the number of goods sold. But one measurement held in common with businesses is that of customer service. For city and businesses alike, they are only as good as their employees, and American Fork has great employees. They work, they serve, they volunteer and they go the extra mile to accomplish goals while always looking for ways to improve. The American Fork community has also elected some of the very best to be city councilmembers. Our council is comprised of strong, independent, free-thinking members who show respect, thoughtfulness and understanding as they tackle difficult issues.
Readying the Physical Space of Our Community
American Fork enjoys many wonderful businesses and continues to add more each year. Some notable businesses to announce are the Amazon Delivery Station, a 150,000-square-foot facility that will help speed up deliveries in the area and create hundreds of part-time and full-time jobs. Then there’s Built Bar, a nutritional bar and powder drink company that has recently exploded in success though online sales alone. With their relocation in American Fork they will be able to grow their output by five times current production.
Finally, we are pleased to announce the construction of a new Class A office tower. The Utah Valley Tower, which will be located between the 500 East and Pleasant Grove Boulevard interchanges, will be one of the largest structures in the area and will offer a prime location for commuters at either end of the valley. It will be all-glass, five stories and offer many amenities to the progressive businesses that operate there. American Fork is the only area in northern Utah County with a qualified Opportunity Zone, which is designed to help spur economic development and job creation. The Utah Valley Tower is located in American Fork’s Opportunity Zone and will be the first office building to leverage this zone’s capital gains tax savings.
Other capital and infrastructure projects include important east-west connectors through American Fork that will open up travel and reduce congestion. The city is also leveraging its partnership with MAG, the regional planning group, to begin design work on these crucial roads in the effort to alleviate traffic congestion. The city has also recently approved a transit-oriented development master plan for 500 acres surrounding the city’s FrontRunner station. Working with UDOT and UTA, American Fork is looking to create a transit circulator that connects transportations hubs with businesses and will allow access to work, school and entertainment.
By utilizing the city’s PARC (Parks, Arts, Recreation and Culture) funds, American Fork is also making great strides in readying the recreational and cultural spaces for the future. To date, PARC funds have provided $4 million dollars in arts and recreational opportunities. With this money, the community has enjoyed more plays and performances by the Alpine Community Theater, the Timpanogos Arts Foundation and Fork Fest by the Harrington Center for the Arts. The city has also completed playgrounds, parking lots and pavilions, most notably, our regional Art Dye Sports Complex, which is opening this spring.
Readying the Infrastructure of Our Community
The last way American Fork is readying for the future is in our infrastructure. Managing what goes under the ground is among the most important aspects of what a city does. The city is committed to improving and updating the critical infrastructure and is taking steps to update road plans and improving the remaining network. American Fork has also had tremendous success with its sewer slip lining program, which has allowed the city to hold off increasing sewer district rates for the residents.
American Fork is also committed to bringing broadband fiber to our residents and businesses. Fiber really is the next utility and American Fork boasts several fiber assets, like a network operating center and existing backbone fiber lines that place the city in an advantage over many other cities to provide fiber at affordable rates. The city plans on utilizing these assets to benefit the city, the residents and even other surrounding communities.
Mahatma Gandhi said, “The future depends on what you do today.” Whether it’s the people, the place or the infrastructure, American Fork is preparing for what lies ahead by making good decisions now. Growth is inevitable. Change is inevitable. American Fork City is committed to determining how to best guide that growth and change so it benefits the community, preserves the city’s character and maintains our quality of life, while offering future generations opportunity to live, work and play.
Brad Frost spent six years on the city council of American Fork before his election as mayor. He was born and raised in American Fork and owns construction waste and landscaping companies. He is married with five kids and six grandkids.