Utah’s third inland port is coming to Spanish Fork

The Verk Industrial Park Project is set to become an industrial hub.

(Chris Samuels | The Salt Lake Tribune) Protesters attend a rally before a meeting of the Utah Inland Port Authority board at the Capitol, Thursday, May 11, 2023. The Utah Inland Port Authority on Monday approved a third inland port project area, the Verk Industrial Park Project in Spanish Fork.

Spanish Fork is on track to become Utah’s next transit and logistical hub, with the Utah Inland Port Authority’s Monday approval of a new project there.

The Verk Industrial Park Project, named for the Icelandic word for “work” as a nod to Spanish Fork’s Icelandic heritage, will be a 2,200-acre industrial land of warehouses, manufacturing facilities, distribution centers and office space, just west of Interstate 15, according to a project draft.

It’s the third project approved by the Utah Inland Port Authority as part of the state’s ongoing efforts to make Utah a landlocked “port” — or, collection of ports.

Board members and proponents said Verk and projects like it will bolster the community’s economy by creating more and diverse jobs.

“This partnership represents a tremendous opportunity to drive positive change, foster economic growth and create a sustainable logistics future for both the local community and the broader region,” UIPA board chair Miles Hansen said in a news release.

The Verk Industrial Park will be a hub for processing, manufacturing and shipping goods in and out of Utah, according to the project draft. The site could be an easy stop for freight trains coming from ports in California, UIPA said, but will need more rail infrastructure before it’s ready to significantly divert traffic from Salt Lake and Utah County.

UIPA will fund the lion’s share of the industrial park with tax differential funds from increased property taxes. UIPA is expected to have roughly $136 million in tax differential funds to spend over the 25-year project term, according to a draft budget.

Port critics have sounded alarms about the speed with which these projects are being approved.

“What’s really disturbing is the lack of public information about business plans for these developments,” Deeda Seed, a volunteer with the Stop Polluting the Port Coalition and staffer for the Center for Biological Diversity, told The Salt Lake Tribune in May.

Spanish Fork Mayor Mike Mendenhell said the project “aligns perfectly” with the city’s goals “while still protecting property owner rights and respecting sensitive lands.”

“Verk Industrial Park will be instrumental in creating an economic focal point for high-wage jobs,” Mendenhall said in a news release, “which will allow for enhanced economic opportunities and a better quality of life.”