By Joy Petro
While many cities struggled across the nation in 2020, Layton City experienced growth during the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, 2020 recorded the highest taxable sales activity in Layton’s history, attributed to grocery sales, automobile sales and home construction. Milken Institute researchers recently said the northern Utah metro, including Layton City, was one of the few areas that “successfully battled the headwinds of COVID-19’s negative impacts on jobs.” Researchers reported Layton is one of only a handful of cities to achieve positive job growth over the past 12 months.
Residents and visitors alike enjoy a wide variety of shopping and dining options with thousands of retailers and restaurants. Layton is the second-largest market city north of Salt Lake City and 10th in the state of Utah. Recreation options abound with over 24 miles of hiking and biking trails, 350 acres of parks, immediate access to the 100-mile long Bonneville Shoreline Trail system, the 2.1 million-acre Wasatch National Forest and the 4,400-acre Great Salt Lake Shorelands Preserve.
Abundant shopping and recreation options, outstanding educational institutions, UTOPIA’s high-speed fiber optic network, world-class healthcare, an excellent transportation network, housing variety and immediate access to the outdoors, are just some reasons why Layton residents enjoy such a high quality of life. Layton is well-governed, with pride in its business-friendly environment, and employs an experienced, professional and efficient staff.
Layton has a young, well-educated and diverse workforce that fits many business needs. Access to good education is abundant, from an advanced grade school focused on STEM to a well-respected technical college and university in and within close proximity to Layton. Layton is home to many businesses with strong growth in high-tech, aerospace, composites, cybersecurity and health occupations.
Layton is a major employment center for Northern Utah, sharing borders with Hill Air Force Base (HAFB), the largest single-site employer in Utah. HAFB had a positive $4.5 billion economic impact in 2020, including $2.5 billion creating indirect jobs and 22,566 personnel working within the base. The recent bedding-down of the full F-35 squadrons and Northrop Grumman’s acquisition of the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) multi-billion dollar contract strengthens the base’s future success and economic infusion to Layton City.
Layton is leading an effort incorporating all surrounding communities to develop a compatible use plan for HAFB through a grant from the Department of Defense. The plan is projected to be complete by year’s end. Layton’s East Gate Business Park, approximately 350 acres of developable property within an existing tax increment district, is located at the base’s east entrance. This land is well-positioned for industry looking to relocate or expand, especially so for those that support the operations and mission of HAFB.
Layton City appreciates the importance of urban renewal as the No. 1 tool for attracting growth and promoting economic development. It helps bring new job opportunities, new public infrastructure and a higher tax base with the least impact on local property tax. The city estimates over $180 million in added value and new investment has occurred within its urban renewal districts since 2004.
Layton City offers convenient access to transportation, including two interstates, multiple state highways, public transit, high-speed commuter rail and is only minutes from Salt Lake City International Airport. The Utah Department of Transportation recently began reconstruction of U.S. Highway 89, transforming the highway from four lanes to six between Farmington and Interstate 84 in South Weber. We are excited about plans for a new interchange at Gordon and Highway 89 which will include medium-scale mixed use including retail and residential components.
By 2040, it’s projected the number of homes in western Davis and Weber counties will increase by 65 percent. A new highway along Layton’s western boundary, West Davis Corridor, is expected to break ground this year and will help mitigate the growing population and provide future transportation options. The highway is an extension of Legacy Highway along the Great Salt Lake boundary and will provide convenient access to Salt Lake City and the Salt Lake City International Airport. An extension of 2700 West under design will provide for a major interchange along the new highway. The interchange will provide access to new retail, an office park and pedestrian trail system connecting to the Great Salt Lake Shorelands Preserve. When completed, West Davis Corridor will be a new 16-mile, four-lane divided highway. The first phase of construction will connect to I-15 and Legacy Parkway and, when completed, terminate at 4500 West and the future extension of S.R. 193 in West Point.
Layton staff is participating in efforts by UDOT to master-plan Main Street in Davis County. Layton recently received transportation grants to help guide development along our key thoroughfares. Grants procured will assist with planning an Active Transportation Master Plan focusing on all modes of transportation and the economic impacts of the new West Davis Corridor. Our Parks & Recreation Department is working on a grant connecting Kay’s Creek Trail under Highway 89. This effort will provide safe and efficient access to our trail system, recreation opportunities and shopping for Layton residents on both sides of the highway.
The regional market strength of the city continues to bring reinvestment, new retail, restaurants and office tenants. Notable new development in the Midtown area of Layton continues with the construction of a new Candlewood Suites Hotel and new multi-family housing. RC Willey Home Furnishings opened its largest furniture store in Layton in 2020. Burlington Coat Factory recently opened in Layton, filling the former Toys R Us space adjacent to Barnes & Noble. Other notable projects include the new Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints temple — making significant progress with construction (expected to be completed in spring of 2022). New development northeast of Layton Intermountain Hospital includes an Alzheimer’s facility, a 130,000-square-foot Tanner Clinic and housing adjacent the UTA FrontRunner commuter rail station. Plans are underway to construct a pedestrian overpass at this development to safely and efficiently access FrontRunner.
Layton City’s Community & Economic Development (CED) Department recently unveiled its new website, LaytonEcon.org, an attractive site targeted at businesses, site selectors and others looking to relocate to Layton. Layton’s CED Department also recently amended their land use code to allow more flexibility for commercial uses within mixed-use zones. Parking regulations were also revisited for more flexible opportunity based on the current environment.
Layton City’s CED Department supports small business. Economic Development staff hosts a popular and educational small-business seminar. The classes offer opportunity for local business owners to be taught by their peers and discuss ideas that help their businesses succeed. The event now occurs monthly and topics are often selected based on suggestions by participants.
Layton City is a thriving community where prosperity and choice are a way of life. It’s certainly an exciting time to be located in Layton and the economy in 2021 is bright and projected to grow.
Joy Petro was elected mayor of Layton in 2019. She has lived in Layton most of her life, attending Layton High and Weber State University. Petro was the recipient of the Ronald Reagan Community Award and has volunteered as precinct chair and legislative vice chair. She served as senate chair and was elected to the state central committee. Petro is actively involved in volunteerism and charity efforts.