Provo is at a crossroads, it would seem, with regard to the role it will play in the county economy. Today, Mayor Curtis proclaimed Provo the “retail king,” which is positive news no matter how you look at it.
But for Provo to have a long and fruitful reign, it needs to do a few things:
• Bring more retail to downtown. All of the stores Mayor Curtis mentions must be driven to. In fact, I don’t think there are any residential spaces within walking distance of Sam’s Club and Home Depot (I could be wrong, but either way there aren’t many). These stores are a net gain for the local economy as they stand now, but future residents are going to want more walkable communities and a thriving downtown. This is vital for Provo’s success.
• “Steal” retailers from other cities. My post about the closing of Nordstrom talks about this, but the point is that Provo’s growth hinges on the spending of non-Provo residents. The city needs stores that will draw people in from all over the valley, and concentrating the best and more desirable retailers in the city will accomplish that.
• Diversify. I almost never shop at the stores mentioned in Mayor Curtis’s post. They just don’t tailor to my needs/wants. Provo needs retailers that aren’t nessecarily big-box, driving-centric stores. I’d love to do all my shopping in Provo and with a more diversified retail sector, that can actually happen.
Provo can be and should be the economic anchor in Utah Valley. Orem — a city the mayor mentions — shouldn’t even be a contender when it comes to retail. Provo has the infrastructure, the population and the desire to make this happen.