Salt Lake County has roared back from the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic and is poised to make major investments in housing, open space and water conservation, Mayor Jenny Wilson said Monday during the annual State of the County address.
Wilson pointed to the county’s strong economy, a flood of tourism and the return of high-profile events such as the Outdoor Retailer trade show and the Sundance Film Festival as proof of the region’s resilience.
Next month, the Democratic county mayor said, downtown Salt Lake City will be buzzing when the NBA All-Star Game returns for the first time in three decades.
“Once again, Salt Lake County is going to be the showcase of the nation, and again, it does impact our bottom line” Wilson said in a speech delivered at the West Jordan Library’s Viridian Event Center. “I’m excited to welcome the world back for this special weekend.”
[Read more: Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson’s full speech outlining her vision for 2023 and beyond]
But even with the county’s success in the face of a global pandemic, Wilson said, too many families and businesses are still struggling.
“Side by side with you,” she said, “I will continue to work to assure that Salt Lake County becomes a better, more fair, more prosperous, and more inclusive community than ever before.”
This year, Wilson said, the county will invest $20 million in its housing trust fund, making grants available to build more deeply affordable housing.
It will also spend millions on investments in trails and new open space.
To save water, Utah’s most populous county will devote $19 million on conservation efforts, including converting turf on playing fields and removing water-guzzling grass from park strips.
Wilson said the county will renew its focus in 2023 on longer term investments in infrastructure, transportation, services for aging residents, and preserving the region’s open space and canyons.
The county will also continue to make strides in modernizing its criminal justice system, the mayor said, as well as reaffirm its commitment to fighting homelessness and to efforts aimed at improving air quality.
Wilson also called for civility in a divisive political climate, and committed to seeking to unify, celebrate and honor the differences of county residents.
“I believe as a community, and with teamwork, we will continue to thrive,” Wilson said. “I look to 2023 as a chance to rebuild and rediscover our strengths, and ... I challenge all of you to be a part of our county’s success.”