OGDEN -- Later this fall, Weber State University and Ogden city officials will gather with one goal in mind: to turn Ogden into a college town.
Bill Cook, executive director of the Ogden City Council, said members of the council, members of Ogden Mayor Mike Caldwell's staff, WSU President Ann Millner and other school representatives will meet in November to discuss strategies to make Ogden a college town and look for opportunities for the two entities to collaborate.
"Right now, we are just in the conceptual stage," Cook said. "We're looking at what it means to be a college town. What does it mean to us? Then we will begin forming a plan on how to get there."
Cook said a 10-member team, with five representatives from Ogden city and five from WSU, will be appointed to begin working on the concept.
In July, WSU and Ogden city held a joint work session to begin exchanging ideas.
"We all realize that we have this great university and this really great and unique city," said Brad Mortensen, WSU vice president of university advancement, who has been involved in the preliminary discussions.
"We need to look for ways for them to align even more."
Cook said the idea to make Ogden more of a college town came as the city was planning the Damian Lillard draft day celebration, which was held in June at The Junction.
The former Wildcat basketball standout was selected sixth overall in the 2012 NBA Draft by the Portland Trail Blazers.
"There was a real energy on that day," Cook said. "It's hard to define that energy, but we want more of it."
After that day, Cook began researching the "college town" idea. He found many publications with lists of top college towns. Utah cities like Provo and Logan appeared on many of those lists, but Ogden was nowhere to be found.
"We want to change that perception," Cook said.
Although the plan is still in its infancy, Cook and Mortensen both said one of the goals of the group will be to increase participation at WSU sporting events.
"We want Weber State University to be the hometown team in athletics," Mortensen said. "Some people think of us as sort of an afterthought to BYU and Utah. We want to change that."
"That's another perception that definitely needs to change," he said.
"If you go to the mall and you look through the sports merchandise, you find all kinds of BYU and Utah stuff, but the Weber State stuff is much harder to come by. That's just one small thing that can change and should change."
Cook said the project will probably be a long-term effort and take at least 10 years to implement.
"It will take awhile to fully develop, but we think we can make Ogden a college town."