A local community development consultant dreams of seeing the downtowns of four Utah County cities redeveloped as European-style theme villages, each with authentic architecture, decor and cultural events, representing four major cultures of Europe.
Mark Fuhriman says the idea could draw a million new visitors and $200 million in new tourist revenue to Utah annually.
He envisions Springville redeveloped as a Scandinavian village, Pleasant Grove as Swiss-Austrian, Lehi as a village of the British Isles, and Spanish Fork as representing the Mediteranean cultures of France, Italy and Spain.
The idea of developing a Little Europe in Utah County may seem farfetched to some. Fuhriman says it shouldn't. He believes Utah County cities are well-suited for the concept because they lie along the Wasatch Front a major population center.
He has been pitching the concept to the four cities for the past eight months, and claims 95 percent of those he has contacted react positively.
"It's an ideal way for a small town to have a strong economy while remaining a small town," he said. "The visitors come and spend an average pf $100 to $200 each per day in shops, restaurants and cultural attractions. But they don't stay, so the small town stays small."