September 2, 2014

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SUMMIT/WASATCH ECONOMIC OUTLOOK

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SUMMIT/WASATCH ECONOMIC OUTLOOK

Sponsored by Wadman Corporation

September 2, 2014


We’d like to thank Deer Valley Resort for hosting the event and Myles Rademan, leadership director at Park City Municipal Corporation, for moderating the discussion.

Participants:

  • Myles Rademan, Park City Municipal Corporation
  • Bill Malone, Park City Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau
  • Brad Dickson, Pando Labs/Park City Angel Network
  • Hans Fuegi, Grub Steak Restaurant
  • Bob Wheaton, Deer Valley Resort
  • Roger Armstrong, Summit County
  • Debbie Batt, Zermatt and Homestead Resorts
  • Keith Buswell, Wadman Corporation
  • Russ Olsen, Stein Eriksen Lodge
  • Andy Garland, Zions Bank
  • Jonathan Weidenhamer, Park City Municipal Corporation
  • Jason Glidden, Park City Municipal Corporation
  • Michael Kilchenstein, RAMP Sports
  • Rich Sonntag, Promontory Development
  • Curt Bassett, Impact Investment Leaders
  • Alison Butz, Historic Park City Alliance
  • Laurie Backus, Jordanelle State Park
  • Mitchel Burns, Red Ledges
  • Tim Anker, Cushman & Wakefield | Commerce
  • Jack Thomas, Park City Municipal Corporation       

Summit:

  • 3.9% unemployment rate
  • 38,486 population
  • $84,672 median family income
  • Park City largest city
  • Deer Valley Resort  largest employer

Wasatch: 

  • 5.1% unemployment rate
  • 26,437 population
  • $62,014 median family income
  • Heber largest city
  • Wasatch School District largest employer

Source Department of Workforce Services

Summit and Wasatch counties have successfully bounced back from the recession, which has resulted in major growth in a myriad of industries. Here area leaders discuss key trends and challenges the area is facing, from a ski industry lawsuit to transportation constraints.

Is the Great Recession over for us?

THOMAS: I can definitely see the wave of change. The friends I have that have architectural practices and businesses in the city have an influx of new work and it’s pretty staggering. They’re all very busy again, as they were prior to 2008. We know from our data that all aspects of the community are up. Lodging is up, restaurants are up. We’re really exceeding that curve of 2008. It’s a cautious, optimistic environment.

OLSEN: We’re seeing a number of different positive trends right now. We saw a great winter season, especially in our food and beverage. I always have what I call the “wine index.” People are spending more on bottles of wine than they have in the past. It isn’t really scientific, but during the economic decline, people spent less on bottles of wine.

The other indicator is our occupancy. Our occupancies are almost there, but that has more to do with the number of luxury hotels we have in the market. We’ve increased 400 to 500 percent over what it was in 2008 with the Montage, St. Regis, Waldorf and what have you. We have our own development, Stein Eriksen Residences. We built a model home this last winter and opened in the first of January. Of the 54 units, 30 have already been pre-sold and have hard money on them at very high prices. The money is out there. People are spending it, and that’s the biggest indicator.

A lot of corporate groups have come back. They’re still a little hesitant because of the beating they got back in the recession, where people were a little prone to jump on the bandwagon and say, “Why are you spending this money when everybody’s hurting?” A lot of them have changed their travel. They don’t go to the extremes they did back then. They’ll come and do shorter events, spend less money at the events, but they’re traveling again.

The financial sector is a little more leery of traveling, but we are seeing them come back. The JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs type groups are traveling again. They’re not traveling in the volumes they did pre-recession. There’s still a little bit of hesitancy for people to come to a five-star resort simply because of shareholders and people in the public sector looking in and saying, “Why are you spending this rate at a five-star hotel when you can go to a four-star hotel and spend a little less money?”

BACKUS: We’ve really seen an increase on the recreation side. State parks are doing better than ever with less money than ever. We were forced with the cuts that we had from the recession to constantly think and act more like a business and become self-sufficient. Jordanelle itself has now been self-sufficient for the third year in a row. We’re turning money back into the system to help the museums and things that cannot be self-sufficient. It’s been a lot of hard work. We’re thinking outside the box.

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