If you want to develop a commercial or industrial property in Utah County, Orem, Saratoga Springs and Pleasant Grove make the honor roll, according to the area's inaugural business development report card.

However, the Municipal Development Report Card for Utah County indicated American Fork and Provo fail to make the grade.

The study, which surveyed 13 cities within Utah County, was a collaborative effort between the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties, Society for Industrial and Office Realtors and Brigham Young University's field study department.

"Everybody can be competent in their processes," said Steve Waldrip, president of the Utah Chapter of NAIOP. "This provides municipalities the tools to self-evaluate how effective and efficient their development process is."

He said the report card was designed to determine the timing and cost of having typical commercial building projects approved by the respective municipalities. NAIOP and SIOR's two previous report cards examined Salt Lake County municipalities and were disclosed to the respective organizations and communities in 2006 and 2007.

Orem, Saratoga Springs and Pleasant Grove each received 'A's in both categories, with Lindon getting an 'A' for commercial development and a 'B'+ for industrial. In contrast, American Fork got an 'F' for industrial and a 'D' for office development, the only city to receive a failing grade and one of just two to get a 'D' grade.

"No one should fail at this," said Waldrip. "It's just a matter of identifying deficiencies and improving your processes."

The report card's survey questions were based on what was described as a typical new office-building project and an industrial-building project seeking approval under existing municipal ordinances and procedures. Responses were requested to determine the timing of the approval process and the fees charged to gain approval of the building-permit stage of the project.

"This is an opportunity for cities to see where they stand compared to their peers," said Alan Rindlisbacher, past president of NAIOP Utah Chapter.

Each municipality was visited by two team members on separate occasions. One team member presented a site plan for an industrial building while the other presented a site plan for an office building. Each team member presented the plans and a list of estimated construction costs to employees in the planning and zoning, and permit departments of each municipality.

Team members were also instructed to simply present the plans and estimated construction costs and time requirements to employees of each municipality and not disclose the nature of the report unless specifically asked.

"All things being equal, if you have one place that's hard to deal with and one that's easier, you're going to choose the one that is easy," said Waldrip. "Cities can use this report as an honest, objective assessment of their procedures and hopefully enhance their ability to facilitate development and boost economic development."

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