OGDEN -- When Mike Caldwell is sworn in Tuesday as Ogden's new mayor, he will finally get the chance to launch an ambitious plan for his first term: to attract 3,000 jobs to downtown and increase tourism revenue by 25 percent.
Caldwell acknowledged it will be a significant undertaking to replace outgoing Mayor Matthew Godfrey, who, during 12 years in office, was instrumental in revitalizing the downtown area.
But he's looking forward to putting his stamp on the city.
"There are a lot of moving parts to learn," Caldwell said. "To be effective (as mayor) the key is economic development."
Caldwell, 41, has been working at a breakneck pace since his election in November to prepare for his new duties.
He's been meeting with city department heads while wrapping up responsibilities at his current job as Weber County's public information officer, director of the county's RAMP Grant program and manager of the Ogden ICE Sheet.
"I want to get a feel for the department heads to see what goals have been met and what are yet to be accomplished," he said.
Godfrey said he's briefed Caldwell on city issues and predicts he'll be successful.
"I have known Mike for a long time and have spent many hours with him since his election to help bring him up to speed on various issues," Godfrey said in an email to the Standard-Examiner. "I have been very impressed with Mike's desire to actively move things forward."
Godfrey also offered Caldwell some words of wisdom.
"My advice to him would be that the media and public tend to reward, in the short term, politicians who do nothing, but there is nothing more dangerous for a community than that," Godfrey said. "I have encouraged Mike to make courageous decisions that are in the best interest of Ogden, even if it's a bad decision for him politically. Those decisions, in the end, tend to be the most rewarding."
Caldwell was involved in deliberations with Godfrey that resulted in the firing of Police Chief Jon Greiner.
"It's a tough situation," he said.
Greiner was found to have violated the federal Hatch Act because he signed off on a half-dozen federal grants worth more than $1 million and already in place during his successful 2006 campaign for the state Senate.
Caldwell said with Greiner's employment resolved, he can now focus on his campaign promise to bring 3,000 jobs to Ogden within four years.
There's no single, easy solution to reaching the goal, which he believes is obtainable based on Godfrey's success in attracting jobs, Caldwell said.
"There's not a silver bullet," he added.
Ogden's Community and Economic Development staff will still have to use the tried-and-true method of making cold calls to businesses looking to relocate, Caldwell said.
The city will also continue to work closely with the Governor's Office of Economic Development and the Economic Development Corporation of Utah, he said.
However, as more tourists visit Ogden there will be additional demand for retail stores, restaurants and other businesses downtown, providing increased employment opportunities, Caldwell said.
Caldwell said he will work with existing businesses to expand and hire more employees and also look at making the city an appealing environment to attract new companies.
Caldwell, who has served as chief executive officer of the Ogden/Weber Convention & Visitors Bureau, is also aiming for a 25 percent increase in local tourism revenue during his first term.
He believes that goal can be reached through tax proceeds from hotel room stays, rental cars and food sales at restaurants.
Ogden, which has received national attention as an outdoor recreation mecca, is poised for a substantial increase in convention business, he said.
Caldwell is particularly hopeful Weber State University will be hosting a three-day national conference in the spring for the mobile phone application industry.
Caldwell said one of the goals of his administration will be to forge a stronger relationship between the city and Weber State.
"It (the university) is vastly important to Ogden," he said.
Caldwell wants to work with university officials to provide more internships for students in municipal government and businesses, which could lead to local jobs for them once they graduate.
"I'm open to seeing us much more involved," he said.
Norman C. Tarbox, Jr., Weber State's vice president of Administrative Services, believes the university and Caldwell will have a mutually beneficial relationship.
"Weber State looks forward to working closely with Mayor Caldwell and his administration," Tarbox said an email. "We know each other well and share the goals of advancing Ogden in the areas of education, culture and economic development."
Looking ahead, Caldwell also plans to establish neighborhood community councils of residents throughout the city.
The councils would offer recommendations on crime prevention and street and sidewalk improvements, and other topics.
"It's important to get perspective on all the neighborhoods," he said. "It's important to hear from all of the people."