Whether you are a seasoned executive or an entrepreneur getting your feet wet, there is no denying the fact that Salt Lake City IS the place where businesses thrive. Salt Lake City consistently ranks in the top ten when it comes to business friendliness and ease of starting a new business. “Our city has become a hot spot to start or relocate a business because we are seen as very ‘business friendly’ with relatively few regulatory requirements,” said Lara Fritts, Director of the Salt Lake City Department of Economic Development (SLCDED).
While doing business in Salt Lake has many benefits, the SLCDED is constantly looking for new ways to attract businesses and ensure existing businesses have all the resources they need. “We are always on the lookout for ways to make doing business in Salt Lake City a great and profitable experience,” Fritts said.
The SLCDED encompasses three Divisions: Business Development, the Redevelopment Agency and the Arts Council. Collectively, they identified their top three challenges.
BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT CHALLENGES
Peter Makowski, Interim Deputy Director for SLCDED has his plate full overseeing strategy for growing and attracting new businesses to our city. The top three challenges include:
Outside View of Nightlife
Salt Lake City needs to do a better job of promoting itself and put to rest some of the misperceptions surrounding nightlife, said Makowski. “There is plenty to do at night from live music to cultural events. In addition, adult beverages can be found in bars and restaurants throughout the city. Our department plans to market the city aggressively to give the world an accurate depiction of all Salt Lake City has to offer,” said Makowski.
Salt Lake City faces multiple capacity issues with available retail, office, and industrial space. “We have a great problem with capacity in the City. Salt Lake City has a relatively modest vacancy rate and as a result companies seeking to locate or expand in our city may have to wait for new buildings to be built before being able to locate here,” said Makowski.
Business Recruitment and Retention
Salt Lake City enjoys many competitive advantages to other Utah cities, but low vacancy rates have increased the price per square foot modestly. Commercial and residential rates are slightly higher in Salt Lake City. “While we are quite competitive nationwide, other communities within Utah can attract business by touting lower rates and this is a challenge we must face,” according to Makowski. Taking on that challenge means promoting the many amenities offered within Salt Lake City, from world-class education to a skilled workforce. The SLCDED is ready to promote all the City has to offer businesses.
REDEVELOPMENT AGENCY CHALLENGES
Justin Belliveau, Chief Operating Officer for the Redevelopment Agency, is charged with addressing the blight and disinvestment in specific parts of Salt Lake City. RDA’s top challenges include:
Homelessness is a critical issue that must be resolved in order to continue to attract investment in our downtown and surrounding areas. “We need to continue to foster a spirit of development, and this requires us to invest in change in order to solve the homelessness issue,” Belliveau said.
Encouraging High Class Design
Market dynamics play a huge role in development budgets and design decisions. We’re seeing developers push the envelope with great design, and they’re seeing the market respond favorably to their attention to detail, Belliveau noted. “One of the roles we serve is to bridge the gap to make the economics of great, lasting design work,” he said.
Streamlining the Project Development Process
Project development includes a challenging coordination of many processes. The goal of the Redevelopment Agency is to facilitate and not to complicate development. “From land disposition to our funding programs, we are constantly evaluating ways to improve the predictability of collaborating with the Redevelopment Agency,” said Belliveau.
ARTS COUNCIL CHALLENGES
Providing opportunities for artists to create work that is integrated into public buildings and spaces, and organizing concerts where musicians display their talents are some of the tasks undertaken by Karen Krieger, Executive Director of the Salt Lake City Arts Council. Their top challenges include:
Infuse the Community with Art
The Arts Council is working to ensure new development projects are infused with art elements. “By investing in art, we are able to increase the viability, vibrancy, and aesthetic qualities of our city,” said Krieger.
Support Local Art
The Arts Council provides grants, business training for artists, and constantly looks for ways to connect the business sector with the creative sector.