Summit/Wasatch Economic Outlook

June 6, 2013

WEIDENHAMER: We do a pretty good job of providing amenities in Park City, whether they’re trails or open space or facilities, and now I’m working on the library expansion. Those are really important amenities and facilities for both our residents but also our guests.

We’ve put together a redevelopment authority at the base of Park City Mountain Resort and are working on some commitments with them to help them continue to be successful. We worked with Bob closely on potential connections of Main Street to Deer Valley with a lift or a gondola. They’re doing some preliminary feasibility studies to see what would it really look like, where would it go. And what it’s going to cost. Once you start to figure out where it might go, you start to figure out what the partnership really looks like. Those are the things that are intuitive to us and intuitive to the resort economy.

Dan, what is our entrepreneurial future in places like this, which attract people who can go anywhere they want? Is there a future for young entrepreneurs to find a home and grow a business here?

McPHUN: The Park City Angels are very interested in the state of the economy, the cost of operation here, the tax base, the ease of travel. We have done about 35 to 40 deals, almost all of it in Utah. We’ve invested close to $40 million in companies. High West Distillery, for example, is one of our deals. The number of jobs and tax revenue we created in this county/state is significant.

It might be good for some of the economic development people to come to our annual meeting, where some of the companies present what’s going on, and let them articulate the issues and problems they’re facing that they’d like to see addressed to make their businesses more successful in this county and this state.

We’re about to engage in a pretty large project to revitalize our Main Street with some amenities. Jonathan, why don’t you talk about that.

WEIDENHAMER: As part of our redevelopment plans, we’re going to put about $15 or $20 million into our downtown, redoing all the infrastructure, utilities, sidewalks, and then building attractions at the top of the street—a brew pub, a central gathering area, a park, and then some smaller pocket parks just to help subsidize and support events so people are going to want to come to town.

The traffic—I hear it over and over and over; people forgot what traffic was like in 2007. But we’re going to start seeing that again. As a city, we’ve spent some time putting together transportation master plans and thinking about light rails and people-movers, that kind of thing. Traffic is going to be a big deal over the next three to five years. And lagging behind that is going to be the impacts of that traffic. There’s no place to park. There’s not enough roads. There’s load-in and load-out problems. Every day of my life I hear those things.

We have to be consciously and constantly aware of what the impacts of our growth mean and what’s the best way to try to stay ahead of those. And there’s no way to do it myopically or only looking in. We have to look outside of Summit County. We have to look outside of Wasatch County—the roads, the connectivity, that kind of thing.

STARK: The population is going to continue to grow, too. Wasatch County now has 25,000 residents. By the year 2040, it’s projected that we’ll have 60,000—more than double within the next 27 years. By the year 2040, we’re talking big numbers, high congestion.

WEIDENHAMER: The one thing we haven’t talked about is mountain transportation and what that may or may not mean. If we were regionally connected all the way through the valley, through the back range and up the Cottonwoods and into Park City, that could provide a giant marketing engine, a giant resort economy engine, and a great way for people to move around through those different nodes with less of an impact.

Has some of this been spurred by the rekindling of the interconnect idea of connecting the resorts? Or is this just more strictly transportation, or is it both? Is it transportation and tourism promotion?

SMITH: It’s both. The real driver has been Salt Lake County and Salt Lake City—and UTA—trying to address the traffic into the Cottonwood Canyons as well as Millcreek Canyon. Because they realize that a lot of their people want to recreate and visit the canyons. Residents want to recreate on this side, so how do we get them here, and how do we do it with less traffic?      

We feel very strongly that interconnect should be a part of this, that somehow a ski aspect should be a part of this. It’s all kind of bound together, and it’s going to be a really interesting process. But it’s going to take probably more time than any of us would like to see it take.

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