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Keith McCord ReportingHang on for the ride. During the next five years you're going to see a lot of growth in Utah. That was the message this week from Salt Lake's Chamber of Commerce President.
It was meant as both a warning, and an opportunity. At yesterday's Chamber Annual Meeting, President Lane Beattie told Utah business leaders that there are big changes coming, and we've got to be ready to handle them.
Lane Beattie, Pres. Salt Lake Area Chamber of Commerce: "In the next five years the population of Utah will swell by 305,000 people."
Chamber President Lane Beattie said that's equivalent to adding another Davis and Summit County to the state. And as Utah grows, demands on its resources and amenities will be felt in a big way.
Lane Beattie: "These people will need a place to live, a means to support themselves and to be supported, roads and rail lines to travel on, and a quality of life that we in Utah consider our birthright."
The predicted population growth also means children, lots of them! As many as 70,000 in the next five-years, which will put strain on schools. A growing state also puts pressure on our transportation. Beattie says Utah will spend more than 6-billion dollars just to keep up.
Then there's downtown. In the very near future, plans will be unveiled for a 2-billion dollar redevelopment project in and around Main Street.
Lane Beattie: "Two-billion dollars. We will have more money invested in downtown Salt Lake City than in any city in America."
Beattie said Utah cannot sit back and react to the expected growth; he urged business and government leaders to be prepared and proactive.
Lane Beattie: "We will only get one chance to do this right. The shape of the skyline is about to change, and it is our opportunity and our obligation to do it right."
Regarding the downtown project, Beattie says it's not just about improving the city-- it'll have far reaching economic effects throughout the intermountain west. He put it this way: "The heart of this region is downtown Salt Lake City, and the region needs a healthy heart."