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Zoom Towns


Just as mining led to western boomtowns, the pandemic has led to the rise of “Zoom towns.” Even before lockdowns began, areas near world-class outdoor offerings, sometimes called gateway communities, were struggling to accommodate an influx of people. As rural communities grow, they tend to experience a suite of big city challenges, like housing affordability and transportation issues, according to a study of 1,200 small towns in the West. “Some of Utah’s gateway communities are at risk of being loved to death,” says study co-author Danya Rumore, a research assistant professor of city and metropolitan planning (and research associate professor of law) at the U. Those problems are only exacerbated by the flood of remote workers fleeing big cities to ride out the pandemic in places like Moab (pictured here). To help, the U is joining with others through the Gateway and Natural Amenity Region Initiative, which Rumore founded, to provide tools, trainings, and other resources for Western gateway communities.

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