NORTH OGDEN -- The city will pay up to $38,000 over the next year to hire former Ogden mayor Matthew Godfrey's economic development firm to help vitalize the commercial district in North Ogden.
The city council unanimously approved the contract for the work at a recent council meeting. The city had been paying its former attorney Dave Carlson to be its economic development director; but Carlson quit several months ago to take a job with the state attorney general's office and, until last week, had been contracting to do legal work with the city. Carlson has not worked as an economic director for some time.
The city used the money budgeted for that position to pay Godfrey's firm, Better City, to do the work.
Godfrey said the city is hoping to revitalize some areas of the commercial district and would like to see some major commercial development as well.
"We intend to do big things for them," Godfrey said in a telephone interview.
Godfrey feels very confident that his firm can move the city along in the right direction.
"I told them I would play Santa Claus and to give me their wish list, and we would see what we could do," Godfrey said.
It's not uncommon for cities the size of North Ogden to contract out their economic development work rather than have an in-house position, because usually that person does several things rather than just focus on economic development.
"Economic development is fairly complicated, and it's really hard to do on a part-time basis," Godfrey said.
City officials heard Godfrey speak at a Utah League of Cities and Towns meeting about economic development, and he had been contacted earlier for advice as to how the city should move forward with its own development. Godfrey suggested the city send out bids to development firms, and he said his firm was lucky enough to win the bid.
Although Godfrey's firm does work for other cities in the area, he said his firm is careful to not have competition issues among the cities it represents.
Godfrey told the council at its recent meeting that he would be able to come back to the city in 90 days and show clear movement with their economic development.
"Our intention is to be very communicative," Godfrey told the council.
"I'm all for this. We need it," City Councilman Wade Bigler said. He asked that Godfrey focus on the area where the old King's Market was and the strip mall area at Washington Boulevard and 2000 North.
Mayor Richard Harris said the firm plans to look at that area as well as others in the city.
"There are a lot of things that have to be done," Harris said.
Recently the city made an entertainment zone in the area of the movie theater at Washington Boulevard and 1700 North, where there can possibly be mixed-use areas, larger signage and more leniency in regard to commercial development.
The city also will let Godfrey's firm use a recent study in which a majority of residents said they want more commercial development in the city.
Godfrey said he is very confident the city will see positive results and some good development from the work his firm will do.