Salt Lake City is about to get a new college in its downtown. According to this article, the “tech-oriented for-profit” Neumont University is slated to move into the old Tribune building. Though for-profit universities raise serious questions about legitimacy — and remind me a bit of this SNL skit about online degrees — this should be a good development for Salt Lake City from the perspective of downtown vibrancy.
Indeed I’ve mentioned the benefits of putting educational centers in cities in several other posts. The fact that this school focuses on technology is an added bonus, recalling this post on the flow of graduates between Seattle and Silicon Valley. And according to the article, Salt Lake City understands exactly why students are an asset to a downtown:
“We have been anxious to get more students living downtown. We really want it to be thought of as a college town. University students add a vibrancy to city streets that’s difficult to get from other groups,” said Jason Mathis, Downtown Alliance executive director. “I can’t think of a better use for that building. It’s great to see historic structures used in ways to continue their lives well into their future.”
In other words, students are a valuable component of a vibrant city.
Provo has some history of antagonism between students and permanent residents, which is unfortunate because that conflict overwhelmingly hurts the permanent residents more. But things appear to be changing and there are currently ongoing efforts to bring more education downtown. That’s good because the lesson from Salt Lake City is clear: more students in more areas of the city leads to greater prosperity.