The Business Advisory Board (BAB) is made up of city business owners and community leaders and partners with Salt Lake City’s Department of Economic Development. Its members are appointed by the mayor and must be SLC residents and/or have ownership interest in a Salt Lake City business. BAB helps direct city economic policy, promotes small business growth, supports local entrepreneurs, and encourages businesses to relocate to our city.

BAB meets the second Wednesday of every month. As part of an ongoing effort to keep SLC’s business community in the loop, we will be blogging synopses of our monthly meetings here. (Recordings are available to the public as well.)

Northwest Quadrant News
Our most recent meeting was on March 8th, the day after State Sen. Jerry Stevenson announced SB278 to move governance of the burgeoning Northwest Quadrant from the city to an intrastate entity made up of 12 state, county, and business representatives with only two of those seats selected by Salt Lake City. The timing of the bill came as a surprise to many.

The 3,670 acres of developable land in question is all currently incorporated within Salt Lake City boundaries, and the City has been leading out on a plan for its use. Thanks in large part to the efforts of SLC’s Department of Economic Development, the area is already attracting national brands that will bring thousands of jobs to Utah residents.

BAB members expressed concern with the language of SB278 as it currently exists and will continue to monitor this bill closely and work toward greater SLC involvement.

BAB Adopts Updated Mission:
After addressing the critical legislative issue at hand, we were able to move on to officially adopting our new mission and values:

Mission: The Salt Lake City Business Advisory Board (BAB) seeks to foster an equitable and robust business ecosystem as ambassadors, advocates, and advisors.

Values: Commitment, Vision, Respect, Collaboration, Inclusivity, Impactful

The board looks forward to living into this mission over the next several years.

Staffing Updates:
We enthusiastically welcomed Ben Kolendar into his new position as the Department of Economic Development’s Deputy Director. Ben has an impressive resume, including several years in Washington, D.C., with SelectUSA and, prior to that, supporting economic development initiatives at the U.S. Department of Defense. Ben will report to Lara Fritts, who oversees all three divisions of the SLC Department of Economic Development: Business Development, the Redevelopment Agency of Salt Lake City, and the Salt Lake City Arts Council.

The Department of Economic Development (DED) is in the final stages of the interview process to fill the open Redevelopment Agency COO position.

City Council Announcements:
Lara Fritts reported on her 6-Month Check-In Presentation to the City Council. She recommended areas of incremental support and investment in staffing and funding programs. The presentation was well received. We’ve found the Councilmembers’ feedback on our recent initiatives is generally positive. There seems to be support for expanded capacity of the department.

Economic Development Announcements:
The Economic Development budget has been submitted. It prioritizes an increased marketing focus (particularly web presence, in-market recruitment trips, and advertising), Main Street America program funding, and workforce development programs. In addition, an expanded staff bench will enable greater program coordination/cooperation and improve service levels.

The City has Federal approval for two Main Street America sites which were announced on March 15th. The department intends to focus the funding provided on a distinct set of blocks within the two districts in order to achieve visible impact. Programs are still in development, but they intend to include opportunities for street-level improvement and incentives for local business owners to purchase their buildings.

The DED is continuing to invest in its city-wide business community survey initiative. The online survey was open for over three weeks and is now closed. The next phase of this research will include 150 business visits and in-depth interviews. We realize the City’s unemployment rate of approximately 3% is a mixed blessing in that it makes it difficult to hire, particularly skilled labor. Given the DED’s limited staffing, BAB members are pitching in to support the in-person interview process so we can meet our target number of businesses surveyed by the end of fiscal year 2017.

Finally, the Economic Development Plan RFP has been finalized and is in internal review before it is presented to the City Council in the coming weeks. We’re excited to see the proposals it elicits. Target completion of the project is Summer 2017.

Until Next Month,

Curtis Thornhill
BAB Secretary & Apt Marketing Solutions CEO