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Elected Officials In Moab Seeking Development Solutions To Help Balance Local Economy

Mayor Emily Niehaus and Developer Mike Bynum speak at a development conference in Moab.
Molly Marcello, KZMU

Moab’s elected officials are looking for solutions to an imbalance in their local economy, specifically when it comes to unparalleled growth in overnight accommodations. According to officials, hotels and motels are pricing out other commercial or residential development.

“What is happening right now is a lot of investors are looking at Moab. And so there is a reactive and a proactive way of addressing what’s happening,” said Moab City Mayor Emily Niehaus.

Niehaus spoke during the first local networking event aimed at connecting interested Utah investors to diverse and development ready projects in Moab and Grand County.

“We are in need of daycare, and we are in need of housing,” Niehaus said. “Those are not needs that are development for development’s sake.”

Elected officials like Niehaus said they want development that will help diversify the economy, enhance locals’ quality of life, and fill in any infrastructure gaps. Many of the proposed projects pitched at the recent networking social featured residential housing for locals and mixed use development.

“We are growing, we are struggling with our growth. We are also ambitious in the kind of growth we would like to see as a community,” said Grand County Council Member Curtis Wells.

Most of the county is now designated as an “opportunity zone,” one of 8,700 across the country. Opportunity zones provide tax incentives to attract long-term investment to areas with high poverty rates and low median incomes. These investment zones can be found across the state from more rural areas like Grand and southern San Juan County, to more urban areas like parts of Salt Lake and Davis Counties.

“The opportunity zones are attracting investment into mixed use developments that are going to provide more opportunities for people to host businesses and live,” Wells said. “So it’s just chicken soup for Moab.

Thanks to Molly Marcello from KZMU in Moab for covering this story. Visit for more of her coverage.