My Hometown: How West Valley City Gives Back to the Community
7 Sep 2022
For long-range sustainable economic development, good community development is an absolute necessity. Quality of life significantly factors into residents’ decisions to stay, new families’ conclusions on where to relocate, and businesses’ determinations of prime locations for expansion.
The research backs up what West Valley City has consistently recognized: quality of life initiatives are essential in defining a community’s sense of place. In 2022, Brookings researchers analyzed communities throughout the midwest, Texas, and neighboring Wasatch County, Utah, to evaluate the impact of quality of life improvements on the economy.
They reported: “Our research on smaller communities has found that community amenities such as recreation opportunities, cultural activities, and excellent services (e.g., good schools, housing, transportation options) are likely bigger contributors to healthy local economies than traditional “business-friendly” measures. Smaller places with a higher quality of life experience higher employment and population growth than similarly situated communities, including those that rank high by traditional economic competitiveness measures.”
While West Valley City in Salt Lake County has a population of over 135,000 — larger than the communities analyzed — Brooking’s groundbreaking research makes a clear case to support the City’s dedication to quality of life initiatives.
My Hometown Initiative
My Hometown Initiative (MHI) is a program in West Valley City that brings together city services, local churches, partner organizations, and residents to work together to bring new life and energy to the City’s neighborhoods by improving their appearance and housing and by offering opportunities for the community’s families to advance and prosper. The ultimate goal is to make the community a place where people will want to invest their time, money, and effort.
My Hometown is the epitome of neighbors helping neighbors. It started as a pilot program three years ago when a group of West Valley residents approached the City Council. To focus on individual visions, My Hometown established block captains — residents living in a pilot neighborhood tasked with building relationships with the people in their area to cultivate a vibrant, welcoming community. The program has expanded to neighborhoods across the City.
The circle of community served by the project just keeps expanding because recipients of assistance are inspired to pay it forward. The Salt Lake Tribune reported on West Valley City resident David Nuckolls who dedicates himself to My Hometown days of service because he was assisted with the removal of a tree that was destroying his home’s foundation.
While residents ultimately control My Hometown, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) in West Valley has been heavily involved with the program from the beginning. Even though the program was just gaining momentum when the pandemic hit, it has made great strides in reversing blight. The Deseret News reported that LDS hopes to replicate the program in other parts of the country and perhaps other parts of the world.
Hometown Scholars Program
While the City is revitalizing neighborhoods through My Hometown, West Valley City Economic Optimization has been lifting up local first-generation college students through Hometown Scholars. Since 2015, WVC Economic Optimization has funded over $150,000 each year to My Hometown Scholarships for The University of Utah to distribute through their Opportunity Scholars program.
Additionally, recipients are eligible to be housed at Fairbourne Station — next to the TRAX station — for an easy 15-minute commute to The University of Utah. Students are also provided mentors and other scholarship opportunities through the university to ensure their success.
Hometown Scholars is community stewardship meets workforce development. From a community perspective, degrees are earned in a way that deepens scholarship recipients' roots in the community because students are provided housing and assisted with finding jobs and internships in West Valley City. The students give back to the broader community through volunteer work.
By creating professional connections in West Valley City, these students are more likely to stay as part of the workforce and volunteer in the community. From students’ perspectives, avenues are opened for personal and career development and financial success that might otherwise have been out of reach.
West Valley City Economic Optimization
West Valley City — Utah's 2nd largest city — is a thriving community for economic development and new business. Contact West Valley Economic Optimization & RDA to discover why the City is perfect for your business and family. Call 801-963-3345 or email us. Follow us on LinkedIn and Facebook to see our City’s recent projects.