TOOELE — When was the last time you visited Tooele County?
If it’s been awhile, community leaders are eager for you to come back, and they’ve rolled out a new campaign to make everyone feel welcome: "So much. So close."
Leaders in the Tooele Valley believe too many folks on the Wasatch Front have overlooked opportunities for fun and recreation in their county, like a visit to the Benson Grist Mill, built near Stansbury in 1854.
“What brought me out here first was affordable housing,” County Commissioner Shawn Milne said.
He wasn’t planning on staying long. But, he’s still here two decades later because of the beautiful views, the friendly people and the variety of things to do.
“If you like adrenaline, this is a great place to be,” he said. “If you like Western heritage and culture, this is a great place to come and visit.”
A new sign went up on I-80 Thursday, urging motorist to visit the Tooele Valley. Milne said visitors always enjoy the historic Pony Express Trail or the iconic Bonneville Salt Flats, where land speed records have been set for years.
“We are so close to the Wasatch Front and the majority of Utah’s population,” he said. “There’s so much, so close.”
The county sold the Utah Motorsports campus to a new owner who plans to keep the pedal to the metal. Several years ago, the future of the racetrack was in doubt. Now, it will help lure more visitors, officials believe.
Stephanie Thomas moved back to Tooele County more than a year ago and is glad she came home. She had already heard about the new tourism campaign and thinks many people will be pleasantly surprised when they visit.
“There is so much, so close,” she said, echoing the campaign. “We live in a great little bowl. If anyone bothers to look up, you’ll see gorgeous mountains all the way around. The sky is clear. The traffic is not very big and the people are friendly. It’s the sweetest little town.”
The Tooele Valley is about 30 to 40 minutes from Salt Lake City.Comment on this story
“We are up-and-coming,” said Milne. “We’re the seventh-most populated county in the state. We’re experiencing a lot of growth.”
Tooele County has added 12,000 residents since 2010 — a nearly 20 percent jump in the county of nearly 70,000. It needs new economic development to replace jobs that have disappeared over the last decade.
“I’m kind of excited about it,” said Milne. “We get to define what our future will look like.”
“To be really honest,” said Thomas with a laugh, “I think we hope people will come and enjoy it ... and then leave it small. So go back.”