This article was published in the Summer 2021 issue
The Future of Work/Life Integration is South Valley
by David Edmunds
Salt Lake County’s “South Valley” is increasingly distinct in its business ecosystem while remaining the great connector between Utah County and downtown Salt Lake City. Matthew Huish, who sits on the Silicon Slopes Sandy/Draper Chapter committee as well as serving as the City Manager of Sandy City points out, “Our geography is particularly advantageous in serving our citizens as well as the tech community. Being the gateway to the Canyons and world class skiing attracts talent to the South Valley and that human capital catalyzes our tech community and attracts new companies.”
When the railroad came in 1877, Sandy was immediately transformed from a sleepy agricultural community to a booming mining town. A similar transformation has occurred in the South Valley just over the last decade as growth has been exponential and increasingly in the last year, employees have wanted to live and work closer to home and are seeking more flexibility as it relates to commuting. The exciting growth in the South Valley is no longer limited to bedroom communities of employees that work downtown. Tech companies are continuing to choose the South Valley as a benefit to their people. Pluralsight’s Draper campus is possibly the most visible sign of this movement. The campus is perched above I-15 and offers team members a bike room, picnic area, athletic courts, and a walking path with access to the nearby trail system. These amenities help recruiting and the collaboration of regional stakeholders makes it all possible.
“It’s just different,” muses Jay Francis, a Sandy/Draper Chapter committee member who is also the President of the South Valley Chamber.
“This region’s success runs on the rails of relationships,” says Francis. “Because of the co-operative nature of Silicon Slopes, The Chamber, local mayors, and city councils we are able to be nimble and always innovating.”
This cooperation was seen early in the pandemic as Silicon Slopes chapter meetings went online. The first of these for Sandy/Draper was a collaboration that highlighted the “all in this together” spirit. Draper Mayor Troy Walker joined the Livestream chapter meeting on Re-Opening Workplace strategies to announce his plan for the city of Draper to buy Covid-19 test kits that South Valley Companies could purchase to test their employees to get people back to work safely.
In addition to Mayor Walker, Senator Kirk Cullimore, The South Valley Chamber, Salt Mine, Turing Thermoscanners, Alterra Medical and Dr. Michael Good; Dean of the University of Utah School of Medicine, all contributed to this event to get businesses re-opened and thriving while keeping employees safe.
We have the technology- we can rebuild…
“I hope this is the last time we ride a bus to prison” was a quote that got many laughs when Steve Case of AOL fame brought his Rise of the Rest bus to Utah a few years back and charged the group of stakeholders present to make the most of this new prison site opportunity and to think of the ecosystem as not a competitive battle of cities but a regional powerhouse. Now that vision is closer than ever to reality especially as we see the promise of the Point of The Mountain coming into clearer view.
Alan Matheson, Executive Director of the Point of the Mountain commission joined the Sandy/Draper chapter’s first in-person/ Livestream hybrid meeting to discuss the developments of the Point of The Mountain Commission and the unique opportunity the project presents for not only the South Valley but also the entire state.
Matheson echoed the collaborative nature of the public officials, business community, and citizenry to accomplish something truly special in Utah. The Point of The Mountain site is the most exciting state-owned land project under development. The realization to be an internationally recognized hub for the tech community, education, and research as well as being a truly walkable live-work-play master planned community is within reach.
The Sandy/Draper Chapter is a community that collaborates well across sectors and organizations and has been eager to re-launch, re-gather, and re-gain momentum to re-imagine the possibilities of Sandy, Draper, and the rest of the region. The chapter looks forward to Q3 and Q4 2021 and will host in-person gatherings at Salt Mine to continue to connect tech with talent and entrepreneurs with resources to play the critical role of innovation and collaboration in the South Valley.
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*Read the latest issue of Silicon Slopes Magazine, Summer 2021