A few weeks ago, the leading-edge computer science school, Neumont University, announced plans to bring their campus to the heart of our city. Soon the old Salt Lake Tribune building on Main Street will be filled with more than 400 daily student and 87 residential students who will live in dorms above the classrooms. Neumont offers bachelor's degrees in Computer Science, Software and Game Development, Web Development, and Technology Management. Their students complete the program in two years instead of a more traditional four-year structure. Neumont is on the cutting edge of higher education and this Utah-based company has been lauded in national publications for this ground-breaking approach.
By bringing their campus to Main Street, Neumont is fully integrating their student-body into the beating heart of Utah's business community. This kind of foresight may be one reason their 96 percent of their graduates are hired in their field within six months of graduation. Downtown is thrilled to welcome this amazing new addition to our neighborhood, and we hope to keep many of their students employed downtown at EA and other high-tech companies who are increasing choosing an urban campus.
Anyone who has driven down State Street over the past few weeks will also recognize that downtown is the Home of the Utes with 8 foot banners on light posts lining the streets. We express this relationship through our fourth annual Paint the Town Red contest http://www.downtownslc.org/events/paint-the-town-red underway right now. More than 50 downtown businesses are decorating their storefronts in support of Utah's PAC12 football team. We also run TV ads to underscore this message like this one featuring the wonder-twin U of U powers of Neela and Neena Pack (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rH_U0l0lQ6w)
We want University students, faculty, staff and boosters to think of downtown as their college town – with all the vibrancy and economic activity that designation entails. We'd like them to eat in downtown restaurants, shop in downtown stores and enjoy our urban center as a true extension of campus-life. But our relationship with Utah's namesake university is more than just a marketing campaign. We also want high tech and other businesses that are created through collaborations with the University of Utah should stay in Utah and contribute to our long-term success. We do that, in part, by building a dynamic and diverse urban community. We help the Utah's universities succeed by building a great downtown. And the whole region benefits from their success. Like any symbiotic relationship, our success as an urban center and employment base for the region is tied to the success of Utah's education system. And as a downtown community, we want to support K-12 and higher education reform and funding. We also look for ways to collaborate more effectively with the University of Utah and other colleges.
There are plenty of ideas to strengthen the relationship between higher education and the region's urban center. One promising idea is the development of an urban research park that could combine cutting edge research with financial capital, nurturing start-up business incubation space that could become the next Microsoft, Google, or Facebook. We support this idea and hope to work with the University of Utah or Utah State too.
I grew up a few blocks from the University of Utah. I went to school at the U for graduate and post graduate degrees. It's where I learned to cut and paste fancy Greek words into blog posts to pretend I'm smarter than I really am. The U has been a constant influence in my life – and in the life of Salt Lake City – since 1856 when it was founded as the University of Deseret by Brigham Young.
The synergy between the University of Utah and other higher education institutions with the urban center has never been more important. As downtown continues to rise, higher education may be the most important element to ensuring our continued economic success as a downtown and as a region.