June 1, 2012

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Summit/Wasatch Regional Outlook

Utah Business Staff

June 1, 2012

ELLIOTT: In Summit County, we have a goal of creating economic incentives for the eastern side of the county, which is very different and very much in need of diversification.

LEWIS: In the county council’s strategic plan, the number one strategic issue is economic development. And what we’re looking at is if a business’ headquarters were to locate in Park City, because they like the Park City name, and that business wanted to create a manufacturing system, maybe the manufacturing system could be located in the eastern part of the county in either Kamas or Coalville. We feel that there’s some energy in that.

ELLIOTT: There’s a very strong citizen push right now to decrease the amount of residential growth. So as we increase the number of jobs, if we can employ people who already live here, then that fails to fuel the demand for decreased residential growth. So every push has a shove back and that’s the shove back we’re going to get. But it’s worth giving it a try.

JASPER: Just to go over some of the things the county’s done: we worked closely with Talisker Corporation, kind of intervened and spent a lot of money on attorneys to break the deadlock. Part of it was the golf course, part of it was to help free up so that there could be continuing expansion of The Canyons. The council just approved a redevelopment in addition to the Kimball Junction Business Park area—it just approved an expansion for Newpark and the Tech Center. We actually dipped into our general fund to add the open space to make that happen. We’re looking at coming through the process now of an expansion of Tanger Outlets.

So there’s really been a lot happening. The dilemma we face is that there’s going to be a lot more demand over the next several years than probably the body politic will be comfortable with. Residential or commercial growth is probably not very popular within the residents of the basin, and yet there will be growing pressure to have that. I know the cost of land is high, but demand will be greater, particularly as the Salt Lake Valley expands. You can drive from Kimball Junction faster than you can drive from Provo into the Salt Lake area. So there will be tremendous demand for high-end housing. The problem we’re going to have is how to balance that with the citizens’ desires to restrain or really manage growth.

In terms of commercial potential, sometimes I hear you can’t build up here. But that doesn’t seem to be the case at all.

JASPER: It’s not an easy process. We’re not out there saying, “Come build a shopping center here.” And it’s expensive. We put some conditions on it and impact fees. But the requests have been there and they have been approved by the council.

ELLIOTT: But I’ve got to tell you, there’s a lot of vacant commercial space. Small, not high end, but mom and pop sort of spaces around Best Buy, out at Quarry Village. There’s quite a bit of vacant space.

ANKER: The space that we have, either standing or entitled, is ample to accommodate the majority of our growth over the next five years. We’ve got another almost 800,000 feet of industrial space that’s entitled at the Park City Business Park. Between the Tech Center and what Cottonwood’s building now, I can’t imagine a tenant that we couldn’t accommodate in the office world. And then retail tenants—that’s our highest vacancy right now.

Mike, as an angel investor, what are the opportunities and challenges you see?

FLORANCE: The Park City Angel Network is a source of funding for entrepreneurs—someone who’s got maybe a prototype or an idea for a company and who needs anywhere from $100,000 to a couple million bucks. They will apply to angel investors for that funding.

We have a really active group in Park City. There’s about 60 of us that are all high-net-worth accredited investors. We look at about 100 deals a year, and we probably fund 10. One would be High West Distillery, which now has 80 employees and is a budding national brand of whiskey. It’s great for the area.

The ecosystem in Utah is really robust for startups. We have a lot of guys that have come from Silicon Valley, because they have summer places or winter places here, and they’re amazed by the kind of deals that we’re seeing in Utah.

HOWSER: We recently put together some biannual strategic plans, and a business incubator was one of the items on our action plan over the next two years. The concept has also been built into our neighborhood area plan for the Bonanza Park area, which is shaping up as a mixed-use area focused on local business and local employment. And one of the big pieces that we’d love to have in there is something along the lines of a business incubator or a business accelerator.

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