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Grantsville’s inland port project promises jobs, but will it upset the rural feeling?

A map of the Twenty Wells inland port project site to the east of Grantsville in Tooele County.
Utah Inland Port Authority
A map of the Twenty Wells inland port project site to the east of Grantsville in Tooele County.

The Utah Inland Port Authority recently approved two new projects in Tooele County. City and county officials say they have high hopes for the local jobs and increased tax revenue these new businesses will bring, but some residents are skeptical.

One of the projects is planned for the same location as the Lakeview Business District in Grantsville, which was approved in 2020. Grantsville Mayor Neil Critchlow said before the district was created, the county and city combined brought in about $200 in property taxes on that land a year.

Now, he said, “they’re collecting about $100,000 in property taxes.”

Critchlow’s hope is that the developments will help bring in even more revenue to a location that might have otherwise turned into housing.

“I would rather have businesses, and slow the growth of houses,” he said. “Because businesses actually make money to the taxpayer.”

Some of the advantages businesses have over housing, Critchlow said, include using “less of your resources. Less police, less fire, less water, less sewer … all of those things.”

Plus, he hopes local jobs at the port could give Tooele County residents the opportunity to stay and work where they live. “We have 40,000 people a day leaving this valley to drive to Salt Lake,” Critchlow said.

Some residents, however, aren’t convinced. Kyle Mathews lives in Tooele and has been protesting the coming inland port development.

These jobs don’t pay much. Freight and stock workers make a median income of $35,400 a year in Utah, according to the state’s Department of Workforce Services.

“I mean you can go flip burgers and make that at McDonald’s right?” said Mathews.

The people he knows also “choose to live here for a reason, and that’s the rural atmosphere. Not to live in a warehouse, concrete jungle.”

To Mathews, many of the new jobs won’t be filled by people in the county. Instead, he expects workers will end up commuting in from Salt Lake.

Mayor Critchlow has said a portion of the new jobs will be set aside for Tooele locals, but until companies start moving in, exactly how many or what type of jobs those might be is unclear.

Updated: December 8, 2023 at 3:41 PM MST
This story was updated to reflect the median income for freight and stock workers statewide rather than in the Provo/Orem metro area.
Tilda is KUER’s growth, wealth and poverty reporter in the Central Utah bureau based out of Provo.
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