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Salt Lake County Regional Development News

Rides and Concessions at Liberty Park Hopeful to Remain After COVID-19

September 25, 2020

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Rides and Concessions at Liberty Park

Utah has many hidden and beloved gems.

One of those is the Rides and Concessions at Liberty Park in Salt Lake City.

Liberty Park was created and opened in the 1880s, the decade before the first Ferris Wheel was invented and showcased at the World’s Fair. It is among the oldest and most popular parks in the state.

Liberty Park has held many attractions and features in its 100-year history, but it has consistently included amusement rides and concessions.

The Ferris Wheel.

A carousel.

Boats – rowboats, a riverboat, now paddle boats.

A train.

And a whole lot of joy.

“Visitors come all the time and say, ‘Oh, I used to come as a kid and walk here on 13th South,’” owner Craig Silverstein said.

While ownership of the rides varied over the decades, Craig has owned and operated the business for the past nine years. Amusement and carnivals are a nostalgic and cherished part of his life. At the age of 15, Craig got a job working at the Buddies Amusement Park in his Brooklyn neighborhood. (He ended up calling Utah home after he and a bunch of buddies graduated from amusement parks to skiing.)

It takes commitment and time to own and operate rides that emanate nostalgia and the feeling of decades past. It requires constant attention, upkeep, and maintenance to minimize risk and provide safe experiences.

“You don’t see these parks anymore,” Craig said.

While it’s something Salt Lakers might take for granted, visitors are constantly suggesting the operation set up something similar in their own hometowns.

The Ferris Wheel that operates right now in Liberty Park was fully restored and is from 1956. The carousel, while not the original, is thought to date from the 1930s. Craig says it’s hard to find parts for it these days. Old chairs were purchased and restored. New bearings were installed in the past seven years.


One of Craig’s goals is to raise money to restore the carousel to its glory – fresh, vibrant paint and the works. Once restoration would be complete, he’d make it free to ride.

While Liberty Park in yesteryears past featured a set of train tracks, and train to go with it, Craig now has an electric train to pull kids along, in addition to swings, cars and the popular paddle boats.

In normal years, staff begin dusting off and setting up rides in early spring and operate on weekends until schools let out for the summer. Then, it operates fully through the last weekend of September with 40-45 part-time staff (usually high school teens) until it gets packed up for the winter again.

In 2020, that hasn’t been the case. While staff began setting up rides in February 2020, news and restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic in March stopped the operation in its tracks.


Rides and concessions didn’t open until June, and even then, only on the weekends with increased safety measures and precautions suggested by public health.

Craig saw a 70% decrease for Liberty Park Rides & Concessions in July 2020 compared to July 2019.

To sustain the operations through a part of the pandemic, Craig applied to Salt Lake County’s Small Business Impact Grant and received funds to mitigate the losses.

“The grant is great. … It’s a lifeline, without it we might have even closed,” he said.

Craig voiced that there have been many great programs for struggling business owners like himself, from the Paycheck Protection Program to Tip Your Server.

“The game is to survive. I feel lucky. Think about restaurants. If you do half the volume, you can’t do it,” he said. “You have to improvise and do what you can.”

For now, Craig continues to coach his staff on sanitizing until its last weekend. He hopes Liberty Park Rides will be back to normal in 2021.

“It was good to hear and see people come out,” he said. “They’re craving it more.”

Millions of Dollars in COVID-19 Rental Assistance Available to Salt Lake County Residents

September 24, 2020

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Housing is health care.

And housing is essential during COVID-19, as we attempt to limit the spread of the coronovirus, work from home, do school from home, as well as worship and recreate at home.

The State of Utah, as well as Salt Lake County and Salt Lake City, have contributed funds in 2020 for COVID-19 housing relief. 

What that means is, right now, millions of dollars are sitting and ready to be given to SLCo residents that are having a hard time paying rent.

Maybe you lost your job? Or your hours were cut? Or you've had a loss in revenue or clients? Or you had to quarantine and stay home without pay?

With more than 45,000 renters in SLCo, we know thousands are in need of help. 

The good news is there is help. Right now.

If you, a neighbor, friend, or relative have been unable to pay rent because of COVID-19, call 801-359-2444.

The Utah Community Action hotline is open Monday-Thursday 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and has language assistance.

Calling this number will setup an appointment to assess how much assistance you can receive, with up to $2,000 per month between March-December 2020.

If you live outside Salt Lake County, visit

6 Ways to Support Salt Lake County Small Businesses

September 22, 2020

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5 Ways to Support Small Business (1)

National Small Business Week, beginning Sept. 21, is being celebrated across the U.S. With COVID-19, support of local, small businesses has never been more critical -- their success is the foundation of our local economy. So, this week we're sharing six concrete ways Salt Lake County residents can jump into action and support local business operations in 2020.

1. Use a Small Business's Website

Innovation isn't exclusive to big tech companies. In fact, innovation is a key driver and hallmark of small businesses. COVID-19 has pushed small businesses to more heavily develop online presence. What does that mean for you?

Instead of shopping at mega giants like Amazon to avoid in-person shopping, you can order products directly from local shops and arrange for pick up before that (delayed) Amazon package would ever hit your doorstep. Some of your favorite Mom-and-Pop shops have probably put off bridging that digital connection, but in 2020 we've seen many finally join the ranks. Support their efforts to do so.

2. An Excuse to Order Takeout

It's no secret that one of the sectors most financially and deeply impacted in 2020 is restaurants and food service. Six months into the pandemic, more families have navigated takeout and delivery as an alternative to dine-in. While national delivery options are convenient, try and use the most direct method possible -- like takeout when available. This allows the business to serve you directly and cut out costly fees from national delivery companies. 

3. Drop Referrals Like They're Hot

Best kept secrets hardly do anyone any good. One of the most valuable things you can do to support that darling boutique, your dedicated handyman, your stylist or tattoo artist is to leave them glowing reviews online. And then tell your friends and family -- or even co-workers. This kind of support is more critical now that online shopping and research is more prevalent during COVID-19. So, where do you start? Try these places:

  • Google Business Review
  • Nextdoor App
  • Yelp Rating
  • Post your experience on your own social media pages
  • Facebook: You can do this on the business' page or in your city group where residents share tips and discuss happenings
  • "Best Of" Awards -- typically carried out by organizations like City Weekly, etc.

4. Book a Staycation

Utah's hospitality industry has suffered greatly during the pandemic. It's a large sector supporting the economy, and accommodations, tourism and other related businesses are bouncing back much slower than others as international and domestic travel remains reduced. 

We're all a little stir-crazy after six months, so why not book a staycation? From the Wasatch and Park City, to State Parks and wonders of the desert, you've got options. In 2020, explore and love where you live.

  • Stay at a local bed-and-breakfast.
  • Take advantage of the fall foliage by camping or lodging in one of the canyons for a weekend.
  • Travel and view kokanee salmon spawning through October.
  • Stay in downtown SLC and enjoy restaurants opened out onto Main Street Thursdays-Saturdays through Oct. 10 as part of the new "Open Streets" program. Dining outside is our new favorite thing. 

5. Make 2020 Holidays Completely Local

While you're staying safely downtown during a staycation, maybe get some holiday shopping done early!

We know, it seems early. Costco skipped Halloween and already has Christmas decor out. We're shocked, shocked I say!

But, we challenge Salt Lake County residents to commit to buying the majority of their gifts from local businesses this year, and for those early planners that might start relatively soon.

  • If you're on a tight budget or embracing the minimalist lifestyle, gifts might look like services or experiences rather than physical goods. Maybe it's tickets or a livestream performance. Or a giftcard to a mutually beloved restaurant.
  • Many companies are delivering their products directly to customers and clients. Send your best friend a bag full of fresh salsas and chips from places like Salsa Queen. (Mad Dough and Challah Back Dough are two great examples of businesses started during the pandemic, deliver, and are insanely delicious.)
  • While many festivals have been canceled in 2020, local artisans are still producing crafts, art, and other locally-inspired materials for Utahns to buy. Check out Urban Arts Gallery in Salt Lake City, or other local art galleries across the valley. While large, original pieces may not be in your budget, there's often prints and other pieces that are affordable and can easily be shipped.

Perhaps you're one of many, though, that are anxious about being able to afford buying gifts for loved ones this year after the loss of a job or loss of clients. Making gifts with your own skills is the epitome of local entrepreneurship and small business.

6. Practice Safety Measures

We know. You've heard this a lot this year. But, public health and economic stability go hand-in-hand. Without feeling safe, consumers will not engage with small businesses. To ease those fears, we all must do our part to wear masks, wash hands, and social distance as much as possible. Consumers in Salt Lake County shared in a formal survey that they feel more comfortable engaging with businesses when these safety measures are in place both for customers and employees.