The county's economic development effort has netted it almost a fourth of the new jobs coming into the state in the past 2 1/2 years, Davis County Economic Development Director Rick Mayfield said.
With 11 percent of the state's population, Davis has attracted 18 percent of the new businesses with 50 or more employees coming into the state, he said. That amounts to 23 percent of the jobs created in Utah in the past 21/2 years.Mayfield said part of the credit goes to the county's revolving loan fund for economic development, created six years ago and subsidized annually with federal community development block grant funds.
But new federal restrictions - Mayfield called it red tape - on how grant funds can be used have caused the county to discontinue the loans temporarily, he said.
No new grant money was put into the fund this year and the loan fund must wait until outstanding loans are repaid over the next year or two until it can make new investments, he said.
But when the fund is recapitalized, its separation from federal regulations will allow the county more leeway in its lending program, Mayfield said.
In 1990, the last year grant money was used as economic development seed money, the county lent around $280,000, which Mayfield said generated over $600,000 in private financing for business expansion.
The county is in basically good shape economically, he said, probably better overall than the nation's economy. Unemployment is below the state rate, which is usually about a percentage point under the national rate, Mayfield said.
"There is not an unemployment problem in Davis County, unless you're an employer looking for workers. You may have a problem," he said.
But he is wary of developments at Hill Air Force Base, the largest employer in the county and the state, Mayfield said. And recent layoffs at Hercules, which has part of its operation in Clearfield's Freeport Center, also had an effect on the county, he said.
Mayfield said the county is turning its attention to expanding tourism, especially reconstruction of the causeway to Antelope Island State Park. The island generated $12 million in tourist dollars annually for the local economy before the causeway was washed out in 1983, he said.
Now that the entire island is a park and the state park service is developing it, Mayfield predicted reopening the island will attract a million visitors a year, translating into an infusion of $26 million annually into the county economy.
"Antelope Island is a gold mine for tourism in Davis County," he said.