The Provo-Orem metro area is ranked seventh best performing large city by the Milken Institute, based off of its economic strength, but this new ranking may not be enough to keep BYU graduates in the area.
The study ranked cities based off of their employment rebound after the recession as well as how well the area sustains and creates jobs, wages and salaries offered and technology growth. The rank is established by identifying areas where employment is either stable or expanding, where wages and salary are increasing and determining if the businesses in the area are thriving. Provo’s 7th-place rank indicates its strength in those areas.
However, even with this new rank and its thriving economy, Provo still may not entice students to stay after they graduate. Anna Call, a sophomore from Pocatello, Idaho, studying nursing, said once she graduates she would not want to live in Provo.
“I’m a small-town person, and I’d want to be closer to home,” Call said.
Rachael Roselle, a recent BYU graduate from Carlsbad, N.M., also said Provo isn’t somewhere she wants to settle down permanently.
“It’s a really big college town, which is good for now, but once I’m older and have other things going on in my life I won’t want to be around such a big concentration of college students,” Roselle said.
Roselle also said while there may be opportunities for employment, those jobs may not be what recent college graduates are looking for.
“I think Provo has a lot of student jobs,” Roselle said. “I haven’t found any career jobs. They’re more just temporary, work-through-school jobs, which is good because it’s a college town.”
Despite the fact that many graduates may leave, Provo has come a long way to climb the ranks.
Marvin and JoJean Loflin, who graduated from BYU in 1962, came back to Utah County in 1999 to a changed area. They said the area had become more commercialized and developed since they left BYU. One difference was that the different towns have come closer together.
“There was a distinct division between Provo and Springville and Provo and Orem (originally),” JoJean Loflin said.
She also said as a student, there were not many places to go eat. She remembered when the first Mexican restaurant opened in Provo because most of her roommates had never seen a taco.
Marvin Loflin said in order to get to Salt Lake you would drive on State Street because there was no freeway yet.
“It took two hours to get from Provo to the capitol building,” Marvin Loflin said.
They also said the major employers in Provo at the time were BYU, the Utah Valley Technical School and Geneva Steel. After 50 years, they agree there has been great economic growth and there are also more diverse employment opportunities.
While some BYU students may cringe at the idea of settling down in the Provo bubble, the economical growth that has occurred shows Provo may hold some promise for the future.