The Business Advisory Board (BAB) is made up of city business owners and community leaders who partner 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.
As part of an ongoing effort to keep SLC’s business community in the loop, the BAB is blogging synopses of our monthly meetings here. (Recordings are available to the public as well.)
On Wednesday, February 14th, some people celebrated Valentine’s Day, some Ash Wednesday, but we celebrated our monthly Business Advisory Board meeting by recommending new voting and ex officio BAB members to the mayor’s office and talking with representatives from Salt Lake City’s Police Department and Redevelopment Agency.
Public Safety Updates & Outreach
The SLC Police Department came to update us on Operation Rio Grande and its wider impact on the city. Their focus is currently on providing the homeless with information about available resources. Those remaining on the streets at this point are more resistant to accessing available services, so officers are updating their tactics to better address this particular population.
The department is aware that the progress being made in the Rio Grande neighborhood has led to homeless dispersing to other areas, and they are using analytics to determine where to focus efforts. Victory Road’s homeless encampments are a current focus, as is the North Temple and 800 West area where the PD has worked with the health department to improve motel conditions. Officers are reviewing crime prevention designs and using trailer cameras to deter crime in both areas. This week, focus will move back to the Rio Grande area to address an uptick in criminal activity there.
Rushing the season a bit, we are already seeing springtime trends toward increased burglary and car prowls. But the good news is major crime is down 19% year-to-date, and Rio Grande area crime is down 43% with all other districts showing similar improvement. Data and trends are available on the SLCPD website, and the department holds biweekly meetings open to the public if you are interested in learning more.
Local businesses are encouraged to get involved with their Community Intelligence Unit (CIU). The CIU is a special initiative devoted to grassroots problem-solving. Each district has a CIU officer assigned to it. To find and contact yours, visit http://www.slcpd.com/community-engagement/community/
RDA’s Northwest Quadrant Overview
The Northwest Quadrant has been making news recently, so we welcomed the chance to hear from the Redevelopment Agency of Salt Lake City (RDA) about its history and unique economic development potential. As a recent and wonderfully informative Department of Economic Development (DED) blog post points out, “Salt Lake City is the only city in the country with nearly 3,800 acres of developable land within 15 minutes of an international airport, major interstate highway exchanges, railways, and a vibrant downtown.” And it all started with the state’s decision to locate a new prison there; the infrastructure buildout (roads, water, sewer, etc.) necessary for the prison can also service new area businesses.
The RDA was quick to identify the Northwest Quadrant’s potential. In July 2016, it put in place a community development area (enabling tax credits and other development services) with a survey area boundary. The very next month, it released a master plan mapping out future land use. The Northwest Quadrant would be a light industrial and manufacturing center.
Over the last two years, Amazon, POST and UPS all signed on to build facilities in the NWQ. Early last month, plans culminated in the Salt Lake City Council and RDA Board of Directors approving the official Northwest Quadrant Community Reinvestment Area. You can read more about all that entails in the DED blog post, and now the state legislature has expressed an interest in becoming more involved in the project. We are waiting to see how plans evolve from here.
Economic Development Updates
Plans proceed for Mayor Biskupski’s event with the BAB. It will be informal and may include a panel discussion.
Looking further down the road, the DED is hatching plans for an annual Small Business Festival. It has decided to plan the event internally, rather than using a third-party service, and is looking for guidance from BAB moving forward. Recommendations included (1) sending out a survey to BAB members to collect feedback on small business needs, (2) using survey data to identify festival focus areas, and (3) planning the event to coincide with Small Business Week in May 2019.
We welcome Will Wright, a new full-time Economic Development coordinator, and look forward to news on other open positions soon.
In big-picture planning, the DED is currently looking at departmental and BAB priorities to determine future new business items. The goal is to ultimately bring new policy proposals to City Council. We aren’t there just yet, but it’s the direction we would like to see the BAB head.
City Council Updates
The City Council has been fielding the state legislature’s aforementioned interest in the Northwest Quadrant. The legislature is drafting legislation to create a governing body that would oversee development and operation of that trade hub. Councilmembers want to ensure the city maintains a strong voice in the NWQ taxation or land use.
The Council is also engaged in early budget discussions. It recently released a study rating the condition of every city-owned street and is considering how to fund needed repairs. More generally, potential revenue sources are being examined as the Council determines how best to raise adequate revenue in ways that are equitable for both residents and businesses.
BAB Member Announcements
The River District Business Alliance has decided to become the River District Chamber. The move from 501(c)(3) to 501(c)(6) will allow the organization to be more involved in programming and lobbying. Rio Grande displacement and the condition of North Temple motels continue to be chief concerns for community safety and well-being.
The Downtown Alliance and Visit Salt Lake have teamed up on a new street ambassador program. Starting out, four paid representatives are welcoming visitors, collaborating with an already-appreciative SLCPD, and offering outreach to the homeless population. The ambassadors all have social work training and most come from a social services background. Look for their bright yellow shirts out on the streets, particularly near the convention center and western side of downtown.
Applications are open for Craft Lake City’s 10th Annual DIY Festival. Apply now to participate as an artisan, craft food vendor, vintage vendor, performer, or DIY engineer. This year’s festival is August 10- 12th.
Passing the Torch
I have so enjoyed providing you with these little monthly meeting wrap-ups in my unofficial capacity as BAB secretary. But “all good things,” as they say.
I am leaving you in the capable hands of newly appointed DED coordinator Will Wright who will provide these synopses going forward. I appreciate his service, as it allows me to focus on my new vice chair role.
BAB Vice Chair & Apt Marketing Solutions CEO