IRON/WASHINGTON, Utah (ABC4 News) – Southern Utah is home to thousands of Utahns and welcomes people from around the world to explore what their communities have to offer.

In Washington County, the University of Utah projects it will be home to more than half a million people by 2065.

While the number of residents continues to grow every year, employees of the Bear Paw Café said they see a good number of tourists and snowbirds who also support the locally owned business.

When it comes to future change, general manager Jackson Potter hopes to see restaurant deregulations.

“If we don’t kinda loosen up the noose on a lot of different businesses –restaurants especially – economic growth isn’t going to happen,” Potter said.

Aside from business, Potter said he hopes dual immersion programs in the state continue for students.

“I think that will go a long way in putting us ahead on the world stage of education,” Potter said.

Server – and Dixie State University student – Sasha Reynoso hopes the future holds more education on politics for students.

“Especially right now what’s going on nationwide, it should be even more important to know what’s going on and how everything works,” Reynoso said.

Both Potter and Reynoso said they plan to vote in the 2020 presidential election.

“That’s one of the things I believe in. I’ve very keen on exercising my rights,” Potter said. “You’ll definitely see me at a voting booth.”

“I know it’s hard because people think one vote doesn’t matter, and it’s not gonna make a change, but it’s better you put your vote towards what you personally believe in and your morals,” Reynoso said.

With more than 50,000 Utahns calling Iron County home (by 2065) the U projects nearly 90,000 people will live and work in the county’s communities.

“I’d love to see some more economic growth,” said Donn Jersey. “You know, more businesses, more homes built. Maybe not too many – we kinda like the size of Cedar City, but if the economy can grow and support more folks, I think that would be great.”

While thousands stay, some travel here for events and festivals, like the Utah Shakespeare Festival at the Adams Shakespeare Theatre – where Jersey is the director of development and communications.

He said with people moving here, it’s an opportunity to introduce others to the arts, and he hopes that doesn’t change.

“We won’t produce theatre that’s not top tier. It’s an expectation here because that’s the culture here, so we want to continue to grow, of course,” said Jersey.

Jersey told ABC4 News Utah is a state “that loves and supports the arts” and he said it shows true with their nearly 100,000 attendees at the Utah Shakespeare Festival and from local and state officials.

The theatre is coming up on 60 years of producing Shakespearean theatre and Jersey said the 2021 season is dedicated to founder Fred C. Adams, who passed away in February.

“It’s gonna be a lot of fun. Eight plays, two musicals, four Shakespeare plays, a contemporary drama, a comedy,” Jersey said. “We’re producing a realized season during a time when a lot of theatres are shrinking.”

Don’t miss any stops on the tour! Check out the other Your Voice Your Vote counties here!