Community leaders, state lawmakers, local officials and business owners gathered at the Cache Events Center on Thursday to discuss how to foster growth in the county while preserving elements of the area’s rural nature and small-town feel.

“We have a good economy today,” Nibley City Manager David Zook said. “But how do we preserve that for tomorrow? How do we ensure that when our population doubles, the number of jobs is going to double?”

The fifth annual Cache Summit featured local speakers and outside experts who addressed topics such as how to bring more high-paying jobs to the area and how to create conscious plans for future development and growth.

When it comes to what needs to happen to support the economy in the future, Zook said leaders and community members should look at was has happened in the past to support business and what can be done to build on that.

During his presentation, Zook shared some strengths and weaknesses Cache Valley has when it comes to the economy.

Strengths included the workforce, Utah State University, the Logan/Cache airport, low operational costs, community arts and recreation, developmental land and agricultural land. Weaknesses included coordination between governments and businesses, geographic isolation and the brain drain of young workers leaving the valley after education.

“There is always a competition between ‘Let’s keep everything the way it is now’ and ‘Let’s change things,’” Zook said.

As far as finding a balance between those two ideas, planning consultant John Janson spoke about the importance of ensuring communities work together to make growth plans and that these plans include specific definitions.

According to Janson, when it comes to concepts like preserving open space and the “small-town feel,” these ideas need to be accompanied by definitions of what they mean to community members and a plan for how to support them.

“Hope is not a strategy,” Janson said.

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