With the economy still fragile, attracting businesses to fuel economic growth and create jobs in this west-side suburb will remain one of his highest priorities in 2012, West Valley City Mayor Mike Winder said Tuesday.
"We realize that government doesn't create jobs, the private sector does," Winder said in his State of the City address, which he delivered at City Hall. "But nobody understands as well as West Valley City that for companies to thrive and jobs to locate here we must create an atmosphere that is pro-growth and business-friendly."
Winder said staffers helped lure more than 1,000 new jobs to the city last year and he wants to continue that progress by positioning West Valley as the most business-friendly in the state.
To achieve that goal, the mayor said he is launching five new initiatives, including streamlining the review process for development plans; holding a public meeting every week where developers can get feedback from West Valley staffers on their plans before they submit a formal proposal; and encouraging all employees to forward leads to economic development staffers about companies that are searching for a new location.
"Our goal is to be the government with the fastest development plan review process in the state, period," Winder said.
In addition, the city will provide data on demographics, business trends and consumer spending to businesses, he said. And West Valley will begin using software that allows administrators to review development plans digitally, rather than printing them and physically delivering them, which will speed up the process, he said.
"These five initiatives will help our city continue to be a leader in economic development," Winder said. "It is significant to note that in the past year our staff has worked with the private sector to attract 1,215 new jobs to the city, $590,000 in new sales tax dollars, and over $63 million in new capital investment."
He added that the city expects expansion at Valley Fair Mall to increase sales by $50 million to $70 million this year.
In his address, Winder also:
• Praised city employees for their public service, including West Valley City Police Department Officer Kevin Peck, who crawled under an overturned bus to comfort a woman who was pinned underneath the vehicle.
• Noted that January is the one-year anniversary of West Valley's English Initiative, a voluntary program that urges residents to learn the language to improve their lives and to unify the community. Winder said more than 100 immigrants were recognized by the West Valley City Council in 2011 for completing a English class.
• Said a "West Valley City Renaissance" is taking place with the ground-breaking last year of the half-billion dollar downtown Fairbourne Station project, the expansion of Valley Fair Mall and the construction of a new Granger High School.