Utah is known for its arches and now can also boast the slogan, "Over 2 million served."
Of course, that figure has nothing to do with hamburgers, but instead marks a milestone in state population growth reached the past day or two with the arrival of the state's 2 millionth resident.According to the Utah Population Estimates Committee, sometime during the past 48 hours Utah became the 34th state in the nation to surpass the 2 million population mark.
And though nobody can say precisely whether number 2 million arrived by birth, bus, bicycle or otherwise, it nevertheless is a milestone worth noting. Gov. Mike Leavitt visited LDS Hospital in Salt Lake City Wednesday to celebrate the occasion. "We welcome all new citizens to our state, especially these youngest Utahns," he said.
Besides the estimated 28,000 babies born in Utah in 1996, another 14,000 people will move here this year, largely due to a favorable quality of life and expanding job market. This growth is projected to continue strong into the next century, with the estimation that the state's population will reach 3 million in 2018.
While flush with this news of growth and prosperity, Utah should consider some of its accompanying challenges.
These concerns include increased crime - especially violent gang-driven activity - traffic congestion, water availability, loss of open spaces, stretched educational resources and continued viable job opportunities for the influx of residents.
With a growth rate more than twice the national average, Utah won't see these and other challenges disappear on their own. They require effective short- and long-range planning at state, county and municipal levels - and increased cooperation between these entities to ensure Utah's "2 million served" are properly provided for.
In the Beehive State, bigger can be better with such foresight and effort.