Salt Lake City’s Department of Economic Development (SLCDED) has been in existence nine months now. We are in a period of rapid growth. Despite the fact that we are in our infancy, we are always looking to improve our work and our processes. We always want to be better today than we were yesterday. We can only do that if we have a good understanding of the City’s business climate and landscape.
So, we recently partnered with the Downtown Alliance, Salt Lake Chamber, and Economic Development Corporation of Utah (EDCUtah) and implemented a first-of-its kind SLC Business Retention and Expansion survey. The goal was to find out – broadly – how business leaders and owners feel about Salt Lake City, which businesses are looking to expand, and what are their barriers to growth.
The online survey was sent every Salt Lake City business with a valid email address – nearly 6,000 businesses. We had over 800 responses, giving this survey a 95% confidence level with a +/-3.34% margin of error. (Wow, just geeked out there for a second, but those are good numbers and the survey is statistically significant!)
As we looked at the data a few themes surfaced.
- Location, location, location! Whether it was proximity to customers, ease of access with transportation, close to home, or hub of business, the vast majority of responses were about location.
- Population and economy are also seen as top benefits of being in Salt Lake City.
- Quality of life, arts/entertainment seen as top employee amenities.
- Overall, the majority of respondents expect to see growth and increased revenue in the next 12 months.
ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT:
- Cost/space availability, homeless issue, traffic, and air quality are top reasons companies say they would not expand in SLC.
- Market saturation (with reference to clients/customers), business regulations and restrictions, parking, and political climate (though nearly all the “political climate” comments had to do with the state rather than SLC).
- Workforce, real estate, customer base are seen as top barriers to expansion.
WHAT DO COMPANIES LOOK AT WHEN DECIDING WHERE TO EXPAND?
- Quality of life, cost of living/affordability, commute times are highly valued in looking to grow business in SLC
But wait, the survey isn’t done just yet. We now have a foundation of quantitative data, and we’re supplementing that with qualitative data. Our team, along with our partners, have started the process of interviewing 150 Salt Lake City business owners! We hope these interviews will give us more in-depth information about the gaps in our business landscape, and how we can move forward to fill them. There’s no better way to get that information than from the business leaders themselves!
*Blog post contributed by William Wright