Welcome Home

City of Provo

Provo Utah’s motto, ‘Welcome Home,’ captures the heart of the close-knit community. “The Welcome Home tagline really resonates with people,” says Dixon Holmes, Deputy Mayor, Economic Development. “People feel at home in Provo.”

In fact, a number of people who don’t currently live in Provo still feel a strong connection to the city, he adds. “They have spent time in Provo either as a student going to Brigham Young University or Utah Valley University, or as a Mormon missionary going through the training center that we have here.”

The 115,000 people who currently call Provo home are eager to share all that the city has to offer with newcomers. “This [motto] is an effort to let people know that Provo is welcoming,” Mr. Holmes explains. “We are business friendly, we are family friendly, we are friendly to individuals who want to make Provo their new home.”

As the third largest city in the state and home to at least 60,000 university students, “there is a lot going on,” Mr. Holmes says of the vibrant community. The business climate is extremely friendly, and the city is abuzz with innovation. Perhaps most notably, Provo recently landed the number two spot on Forbes’ list of the Best Places for Business and Careers.

Mr. Holmes credits much of the community’s economic success to the region’s cultural roots. “I think it goes back to the pioneer heritage that a lot of people have in Utah,” he explains. “People [want to] be independent, providing for their own and really controlling their own destiny. They want to be self-sustaining and self-supporting.” As a result, entrepreneurial thinking is commonplace; start-ups are encouraged. People throughout the community are willing to take a leap. And, with the city’s low cost of doing business, “it seems like a safe place to launch a business,” Mr. Holmes adds.

With two major universities, the community also has a young, educated workforce eager to take on challenges. Furthermore, a lot of these recent graduates have experience living abroad and speaking a second language from their time spent working as Mormon missionaries.

All of these positives combine to help make Provo, and the entire Utah Valley, a great place to launch and run a business – and of course, each successful business venture creates jobs and stimulates the local economy. It is a win-win situation for the entire community. “In Provo, people can have their own business and control more of their destiny by working for themselves, [as well as] providing jobs for other people,” Mr. Holmes points out.

Brigham Young University (BYU) and Utah Valley University (UVU) play a tremendous, ongoing role in Provo’s business environment. “The universities have a huge influence on innovation,” Mr. Holmes explains. For example, BYU offers entrepreneurship and innovation classes across the entire university, and everyone from elementary education majors to pre-med students and future engineers is encouraged to delve into the subject. The idea, Mr. Holmes explains, is that “technology and innovation are in every industry – it is not an industry in and of itself. You need to have the entrepreneurial approach to whatever it is you do.”

UVU has similar initiatives that contribute to the community’s ongoing success. For instance, the Business Resource Center (BRC) is a countywide initiative “for anyone who has an idea that they would like to take to the next level.” The center provides support through mentoring, special programs, and even seed capital. For entrepreneurs and local business owners alike, the BRC is “a one-stop-shop for resources to help accelerate growth,” the university reports.

The tech industry has been particularly successful in Provo, and smaller, niche industries such as industrial diamond manufacturing have also fared well. The ‘food supplements, lotions, potions, and pills’ industry has also set up camp in Provo and the surrounding Utah valley, with Nu Skin, Morinda, and Nature’s Sunshine all headquartered there. The area has also proven ideal for call centers. “We are in a good time zone, we have people who can speak a second language, and, apparently, we have good accents here,” Mr. Holmes laughs.

Provo isn’t all business and no play, however. The city earns high marks on livability rankings and spending quality time with family is a community priority. Outdoor recreation opportunities are everywhere and include everything from hiking, biking, and disc golf to rock climbing, world class fly fishing, hang gliding, and fossil hunting. “From the center of Provo you can be to a lake or a canyon within ten minutes,” Mr. Holmes reports. “In fifteen minutes you can be to a ski resort. Within a few hours you can be to five national parks.”

A local airport provides access to regional hubs including L.A., Oakland / San Francisco, and Mesa / Phoenix. Surrounded by stunning scenery and a plethora of outdoor activities, Provo is an ideal home base from which to explore all that Utah Valley has to offer. The region is so impressive that many first time visitors are caught off guard. “A lot of people are surprised when they get here. They say, ‘wow, we are coming back because we didn’t realize how great it is to visit.’”

Provo also has an excellent city park system. “We try to have parks in all the neighborhoods so people can get outdoors and enjoy time together,” Mr. Holmes explains. The area also hosts a number of well-known marathons and half marathons, including the Utah Valley Marathon, which is a Boston Marathon qualifier. There are also local youth leagues for soccer, baseball, and basketball enthusiasts. The city also recently built a new, state of the art recreation center that includes a fitness mezzanine, four basketball courts, and an indoor aquatic center complete with slides, rock cliffs, water fall rock walls, and lazy rivers. “Monthly memberships have quadrupled over what was expected,” Mr. Holmes remarks. “People here enjoy living a healthy lifestyle and the recreation center and access to outdoor activities are all part of that.”

The community also throws a massive Fourth of July celebration each year called the Freedom Festival. The festivities go on for weeks, and include parades, races, patriotic storytelling contests, sports tournaments, a hot air balloon festival, historical tours, and symphony performances. A festival highlight is Stadium of Fire, a major concert event that draws 40,000 people annually and features A-list artists – this year’s headliner will be Carrie Underwood.

The community also enjoys watching university football and basketball games, and the two universities have even inspired a local music scene. “We have a lot of start-up bands that have actually done very well nationally,” Mr. Holmes reports. “Neon Trees, Fictionist, and Imagine Dragons are all bands that have called Provo home.” The city also hosts a rooftop concert series that is geared toward families as well as students.

The city also boasts a refreshingly low crime rate. While it is not recommended, many residents even feel comfortable leaving their doors unlocked. “People feel safe in Utah, in Provo,” Mr. Holmes says. Residents are surrounded by people who are focused on family and community, he explains – people who really do care. “Not everyone is out to make a buck. People also want to give back.” In fact, the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) has ranked Utah as the #1 volunteering state in the nation – eight years in a row. “People in Provo want to help others who are less fortunate or volunteer their time to make our communities better.”

With a positive business climate, an enthusiastic young workforce, a spirit of innovation, and a caring community, Provo has everything it needs to succeed. “We think it is a pretty good combination of good things going on,” Mr. Holmes shares. “And it is not because the government has done it – it is because good people in our communities and our neighborhoods are getting together and making good things happen. We really attribute it to our citizenry.”

For more information about the City of Provo, please visit http://www.provo.org/

March 20, 2018, 9:50 AM EDT

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