Monday, November 11, 2013

The Evolution of Happy Valley By Bill Fillmore

While I can't speak for the Karl G. Maeser generation, or successive generations through World War II, I am amazed at the evolution of our happy valley from the 1970s (when I attended BYU) to today.  And I am particularly struck by the developments I have witnessed here since I "returned home" to practice law in Provo (after attending law school at the University of Chicago, beginning my career in Denver, then accepting an invitation from President Holland to serve as BYU's Associate General Counsel, and returning to private practice here in 1991).

The initial marketing focus of our law firm (now known as Fillmore Spencer, a business and litigation firm now numbering 20 attorneys) was on the many emerging high-tech companies in the valley, but we have also witnessed the growth and evolution of many “main street” companies and clients as well.  Over the last 40 years, I have made the following observations about Utah Valley, which, to borrow from Brigham Young, is definitely "the right place" – for all kinds of reasons:
  1. Our economic growth owes a great deal to the businesses and technologies that have been spun off from BYU, and now UVU as well.  They have been terrific engines for entrepreneurial development and economic expansion in our valley.                                                                                                           
  2. Whether it's the religious values we share, the high education levels here, the exceptional volunteerism, the water we drink or whatever, this valley spawns an amazing number of independent, creative, indefatigable, entrepreneurial spirits, who are willing to take the risk associated with chasing their dreams, and whose businesses have helped entice many national companies into the valley.                             
  3. We have been favored with remarkably dedicated public servants who work quite well together and who take a long-range view of our future needs.  For example, consider the impressive initiatives in Provo in recent years:  first, the community’s commitment to take the old Academy Square (then our greatest eyesore) and turn it into the new city library (one of our prize jewels), the first class recreation center just opened, the new Utah County Convention Center, the municipal airport expansion, and now the remarkable "Google Fiber City" innovations.                                                                                 
  4. While not perfect, the relationships between various demographic groups, religious denominations and minorities are far better than what a stranger visiting our valley might expect.  This is due to some very determined, conscientious efforts by many good men and women, past and present.                                                                                                                                                                                      
  5. The quality of law practiced here is quite good, and the ethics and integrity of the Utah Bar (and particularly Utah County) are a notch above other states – all of the lawyer jokes notwithstanding.                                                                                                                                                                
  6. All of the national accolades and complimentary rankings that Utah, Utah County and various cities seem to garner every year are no accident.  Many people over several generations have worked very hard to lay the foundation for the good life and great opportunities we now enjoy here.
By virtue of the solid governmental, economic, religious, business and family-focused foundation laid by so many of our citizens in the past, I believe our best years are still ahead of us.  These things don't just happen, but are the result of what the Founding Fathers referred to as the "public virtue" necessary for our democracy.  It's great to be a small part of this wonderful, ever-expanding juggernaut known as Happy Valley.

Photo courtesy of Flickr by Ken Lund

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