A new year calls for new economic development goals. Let’s take a look back at 2018 and the progress made to help our business community thrive in 2019. As always, we would love to hear your feedback!

Salt Lake City’s Department of Economic Development is a young organization, just 2 years old! There is a lot to talk about considering that our City had a dormant economic development staff prior to 2016. Now fully staffed and focused on customer service, the team has worked tirelessly with our partners at the local and state level to grow and diversify our City’s footprint. Under the leadership of Mayor Jackie Biskupski, 9,082 jobs have been created or retained, 4.1 million sq. ft. has been developed, and $895 million generated in capital investment.

Giving a Voice to Salt Lake City Business

In 2018 we saw significant team building and focus on customer service, gaining new visibility in our community. We have completed hundreds of in-person (site) visits and fielded more phone calls and connections.  With over 17,000 businesses in Salt Lake City, it is our goal to reach out to every single one. We want our businesses to be aware and act on the resources available in the community. Navigating city processes has become easier through new online tools like OpenCounter and a newly appointed ombudsman role. The City’s Building Services has reduced the overall time that it takes to get a permit by an average of 50% (shorter time) compared to 2015.

Business surveys are setting a foundation to discover where improvements must be made. By reaching out and getting this feedback we were able to improve our Net Promoter Score dramatically. 2018 was the year to establish performance metrics and accountability, something the City did not have a record of in prior years. We now have a qualified, expert staff that have created the department’s first strategic plan and vision, annual work plan, and key performance indicators.

National Rankings

Salt Lake City ranks among the best in the nation for business. Our ranking streak continued in 2018 with more national attention:

  • #1 for Cities Poised to Become tomorrow’s tech meccas (Forbes)
  • #1 Best Cities to Start a Career (WalletHub)
  • #1 Least Expensive Office Market in the U.S.  – (Business Facilities)
  • #2 Best Place in America for Starting a Business – (Inc.)
  • #4 in U.S. Best Airport for Business Travelers (TravelBank)
  • #6 for Top 50 Cities in America for Economic Opportunity (Yelp)
  • #7 Best Cities for STEM Jobs (WalletHub)
  • #10 in Best Performing Cities (Milken Institute)
  • #11 Best Large U.S. Cities to Start A Business In 2018 (CEO World)
  • #11 Healthiest Cities in the U.S.  (WalletHub)
  • #15 of the 50 best places to live in America for 2018 (Business Insider)
  • #20 Top Places for Business and Careers (Forbes)

Arts and Culture

Our business survey revealed the need for more commitment to promoting arts and culture in the capital city. Salt Lake City’s Art Council is re-examining the role a modern-day arts agency plays and what are we uniquely positioned to do best. 2018 was a busy year for public art and performances. Most notably,

  • Granary District Mural Project
  • Beautiful new public art throughout the City and on City buildings
  • A successful pilot of a new Twilight Concert Series model
  • Regent Street art projects and programming (Busker Festival, etc.)

Workforce Development

2018 marked the year of Salt Lake City’s first and only municipal-level workforce development professional.  Having one of the lowest unemployment rates in the U.S. presents workforce challenges and we’re working to tailor solutions specific to businesses’ needs. Director Lara Fritts’ ability to convene top stakeholders and community leaders led to the creation of a pilot program to help people experiencing homelessness. Within the past year we have developed over 50 partnerships with Wasatch Front organizations, recruiting companies focused on the workforce. We’re helping to recruit companies to Salt Lake City that pay competitive wages. A West Side Transportation steering committee has been formed, focused on increasing transportation options to the west side of SLC.

Revitalizing SLC

Salt Lake City’s Redevelopment Agency has made significant advancements in 2018. The Council and Board of the Redevelopment Agency (RDA) approved the creation of the Northwest Quadrant Project Area. RDA’s 2018 notice of funding availability offered $10 million for affordable housing. The RDA Board approved a loan of $3.2 million to the Salt Lake City Housing Authority to facilitate the redevelopment of the Capitol Motel. The RDA stepped in to solve the abandoned structure at 255 South State Street, prime downtown property with redevelopment now underway. Planning began for the Salt Lake Central Station revitalization effort.


The Main Street America Designations in the Granary District and State Street continue to progress. Committees have formed, business is growing and we’re on our way to community-driven, comprehensive revitalization.  Several companies took advantage of the RDA adaptive reuse program in the Granary District.

2018 was a year for Opportunity Zones and recognizing new opportunities and overlap with RDA Project Areas.

And that’s not all of it! It was a big year for revitalization efforts and we’re looking forward to much more.

What’s Ahead for 2019

SLC DED has secured national and international events, highlighting Salt Lake City on the global stage.  The Capital City will host:

  • Site Selectors Guild Convention – March, 2019
  • IEDC Economic Future Forum- June, 2019
  • United Nations Global Communications / NGO conference – August, 2019


With so many wins in 2018, dedicated staff, and a clear vision moving forward, the future of economic development in Salt Lake City is bright! We are excited to build upon this foundation and continue serving our community. Happy New Year from all of us at Salt Lake City’s Department of Economic Development.