June 1, 2012

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Summit/Wasatch Regional Outlook

Utah Business Staff

June 1, 2012

HAMAWAY: The “Silicon Migration”—this trend we’re seeing where folks in Silicon Valley love to ski in Park City. They’re coming here and they’re staying at our resorts. Then they go, “Wouldn’t it be nice to spend more time here?” That talent pool is starting to be here from Silicon Valley on a more continuous basis.

We can start feeding some of that piece as well, because to build anything in Palo Alto now or anywhere in the Silicon Valley—we look extraordinarily affordable from a Park City standpoint. So it’s neat to watch the migration of people coming here, staying, buying and now starting to deal.

We have Skullcandy, BackCountry.com, Rossi. But I keep wondering if it’ll ever take off to the point where there really is a viable group of industries up here that are here for the recreation, but have these thriving companies.

FLORANCE: There is a group of young guns, and they call themselves the Summit Series. And as I understand it, they have [Powder Mountain] under contract, and they want to turn it into a center for entrepreneurship.

WHEATON: In the past, when we talked about economic diversity, we meant having different store fronts around, whether it’s retail or industrial or whatever. What we’re seeing now on economic diversity isn’t necessarily more signs and more store fronts, it’s a whole economic wave that will come in. I’ll use clean industry for an example—that is an economic infusion into our county that does not necessarily need additional infrastructure, additional support, all that kind of stuff. So what we’re seeing now is extremely important and a big part of current economic diversity.

I’m a little prejudiced here on the resort side of it—I would like to think the resort industry here is incubating this economic diversity and bringing those people in. The groups that we’re now getting include individuals that have a respectable amount of influence in worldwide industry. We’re not talking about ski clubs that are coming in for $10 lift tickets and $2.50 burgers. We’re talking about people that have the ability to come back with their families, whether it’s on vacation or to buy a place and then move a company and all that. I mean, that’s the growth.

What’s going on in Heber Valley?

STARKS: Maybe now more than over the past few years, our phone’s ringing a lot more. People are realizing that we’re open for business. And on the south end of the Heber Valley we have this Wal-Mart project, and as a result of that we have eight other businesses that are opening in June. It’s going to be a retail center. That’s something that has been a void over the past number of years for the Heber Valley. A lot of those tax dollars are going to stay in the valley.

We’re also seeing a lot of high-tech manufacturing companies that are bringing good paying jobs. So maybe the takeaway is this: the Heber Valley is open for business.

What is Utah Valley University up to?

SPARKS: President Holland and his cabinet have done an outstanding job of entertaining our proposals. In fact, we have another meeting set up where we’re trying to express our interest in building some more partnerships and programs that will serve the needs of the local community, but also bring in more students and create some more specialized programs for both Summit and Wasatch counties.

We all stand on the decisions that have been made before us. Is there some decision we’re not making now, or that we should be making now, that’s really going to benefit our kids and grandkids?

ELLIOTT: We need to congratulate ourselves for our very, very large amount of spending on open space and trails. That’s going to guarantee a place in the future of tourism and active livability for us that is going to pay rich rewards even beyond our children and grandchildren.

HAMAWAY: We need to focus on the meeting and convention side. I know it’s not a legacy decision, but when we talk about seasonality and the ups and downs, realize that on the meeting and convention side, we’re booking 2013, 2014 and 2015. If there’s anything to mitigate seasonality—not only is it bringing great clients in town, it’s the blanket of security that you know that business is coming and you can layer everything else. You’re not going to wait on snow. You’re not going to wait on anything else. I can tell you now that 2014 is going to be good.

Look at Canyons—the critical mass, the number of rooms out here, the meeting business that just Canyons could attract is extraordinary. It all works its way through the system. 

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