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Salt Lake County Regional Development News

What Lessons Are Salt Lake County and its Private Partners Learning in Reaching Out to Diverse Businesses in 2021?

November 19, 2021

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By Spring 2021, Salt Lake County, in its COVID-19 recovery efforts, was aware of a problem. Amid the rush of initial pandemic aid, diverse small business owners did not connect with resources, for lots of different reasons.

How do we attempt to address this economic inequity?

“Where do we start if I haven’t created a program with diversity and inclusion?” Tracey Dean, Chairwoman of the Utah LGBTQ+ Chamber of Commerce, echoed in a panel at the recent Utah Business Diversity Summit.

Going to stakeholders like the Utah Muslim Civic League, Utah LGBTQ+ Chamber, Pacific Island Knowledge 2 Action Resources (PIK2AR), Westminster College, and Pacific Island Business Alliance with this intention to listen has been critical.

A group of people sitting in chairs.

A group of 11 total partners joined Salt Lake County to build a new program together: Economic Impact Community Assistance Program (EICAP). Several of the program partners spoke about the program at the Utah Business Diversity Summit on "Building Public-Private Partnerships to Support Diverse Businesses and Communities."

“EICAP has been a breath of fresh air,” Susi Feltch-Malohifo’ou, CEO of PIK2AR, said.

A Program with Diversity and Inclusion

The program gave grants to these organizations in May 2021 with the goal to achieve a more inclusive economic recovery. It started by engaging with the partners’ own experiences seeing businesses' needs, gaps, and obstacles. What that looked like started with an open mind and flexibility.

“The goal was connecting businesses with resources, and one-size-fits-all wouldn’t work. We learned everyone has different standards, ideals, values, and sets of needs. We came out with the message: ‘We want to talk about resources available to you.’ Then we took a different approach from let me come help you, to ‘Can you help me?’” Daniel Tuutau, Membership & Resources Liaison at Pacific Island Business Alliance, said.

Partners also shared that this only works if you create trusted pathways and build relationships. Then, they connected business owners with things like bookkeeping, business plans, and networks to help them not feel alone. 

“It’s important to care, but it wasn’t enough in our case. It’s resource mobilization,” Luna Banuri, Executive Director of Utah Muslim Civic League, said. “If you’re a business running long term, you have to think about planning, bottom line resources. We’ve provided that to businesses through the funding received in EICAP. It’s a long, hard journey for them and us. We weren’t built to serve businesses; we’re built to serve community.”

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Beyond the Pandemic

“Everyone can do this; this is not something that we’re all special unicorns. I’m saying everyone can [engage diverse businesses]. And we all need to do this. Make partnerships count and successful for the communities we serve,” Susi said.

The EICAP program’s work is far from over. Creating more trust and relationships with diverse residents and business owners became more visible to institutions during the pandemic. But it’s become clear this, too, must be a new normal.

“Impact investment takes time,” Luna emphasized. “Sustainability is key. Yes, we’re a part of a great program, but we just got done getting trust from the community and want to do this long term. For anyone engaged in diverse public-private partnerships, don’t pull away.”

Luna Banuri Tracey Dean Chairwoman Utah LCBTQ+ Chember of Susi FL Malohi Pacific l: owledge

EICAP is all about partnership. 

When Salt Lake County first heard about diverse business owners missing out on the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), we wondered if we were the right entity to take on this problem. But the insight from the 11 partners showed us challenging work must be done to solve the issues we see. Together.

“There’s a Jevon [Gibb] fan club because of his listening ear,” Luna said. “There’s shared diversity among diverse groups, and shared diversity with certain experiences that run through all of us.” That’s how we achieve a truly strong and inclusive recovery. 

Is There Hope for Future Homeowners in Utah? New Report Details Scope of Problem, Potential in Middle Housing

November 17, 2021

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A new housing report was released as the first in a series serving as a "Guide to Expanding Options for Utah Homebuyers and Renters," by Utah Foundation on Tuesday.

The report, which Salt Lake County Regional Development was a partner on, provides context on just how large the scope of the housing challenge is in Utah — and in Salt Lake County. It examines Utah’s housing problem and introduces Missing Middle Housing as one solution to address it.

Among the key findings are that a staggering 80% of Utahns surveyed in September 2021 feel home prices and rents are too high.

Another key finding saw 90% of survey respondents worried about housing costs, but even more so for young Utahns’ housing costs. Paired with the fact that while the younger population is expected to shrink in percentage, the number of young households is expected to grow in sheer numbers. This clearly shows a need for entry-level housing options at prices they can afford. 

"Middle housing is a possible answer in terms of prices," the report states. "For instance, in Salt Lake County, the August 2021 median (or middle) sale price of townhomes was $390,000, while for single-family homes, the median sale price was $546,450."

Middle housing — or Missing Middle Housing in Utah's case — is house-scale multi-unit housing and incorporates naturally into neighborhoods in ways that encourage walkability for residents with a variety of incomes.

A Housing Solution?

According to the report, middle housing may help relieve some of the issues such as lack of stock of housing, costs, and more. Apartments are not entirely the answer when seeking ownership, but single-family home costs are simply not attainable for many in Utah's market. The guide suggests:

  • Middle housing could provide a greater range of price points for sale or rent
  • Because middle housing often doesn’t include luxury amenities common with large developments, prices are typically less 
  • Because these structures are house-scale, costs can be lower per square foot because the materials and construction parameters are more simple than high rise structures.

Upcoming Series Installments

Utah Foundation’s reports historically look at how Utah can continue to grow, while improving quality of life and maintaining local fiscal health.

Additional reports in this Middle Housing series will be released in the following months and detail:

  • Middle housing and where it is located in the State; 
  • Utahns’ housing preferences; and
  • Obstacles and opportunities to increase the availability of middle housing.

Download and read Part 1 of the Missing Middle Housing Report.

Public Comment on Initial Upper Mill Creek Canyon Road Improvement Plans Open Thru Dec. 9, 2021

November 09, 2021

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Salt Lake County and its partners shared more proposed details in a Nov. 9 open house on the scope of work suggested for the Upper Mill Creek Canyon Road Improvements Project announced on Nov. 3.

The scope of the project includes roadway improvements between Big Water Trailhead and Winter Gate, a total of 4.5 miles.

The project total is estimated to cost $19.6 million, with $15.3 awarded from a Federal Lands Access Program grant. FLAP improves transportation facilities providing access to, near, or within federal lands. Much of the lands east of Salt Lake Valley are managed by the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest.

The public can view details of the proposed project scope on Salt Lake County's website and submit comments there if you were unable to attend the open house in person.

For questions, email

To submit comments, visit

Nearly $20 Million in Improvements Being Planned for Upper Mill Creek Canyon, Public Feedback Sought at Nov. 9 Open House

November 03, 2021

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Upper Big Water TRAILHEAÖ WASATCH Nküonag

Salt Lake County received $15.3 million in funding, with a local match of $4.2 million required, through the Federal Lands Access Program (FLAP) to make needed improvements to the upper 4.5 miles of Mill Creek Canyon Road between Big Water Trailhead and the Winter Gate.

An open house will be held from 4:30-9 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 9 with project information stations at Millcreek City Hall, 3330 S. 1300 East.

“We’re thrilled we’ve been able to obtain this huge investment for Mill Creek Canyon; it’s treasured by people all across Salt Lake County, and I urge residents to provide feedback on the thoughtful improvements proposed by our staff and partners,” Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson said.

Representatives from the Federal Highways Administration Central Federal Lands Highway Division, the USDA Forest Service, and local project team members will be available to answer questions about these Mill Creek Canyon improvements from the public during the open house.

“The Federal Highway Administration, Central Federal Lands Highway Division has years of expertise designing and constructing similar roadways to provide access to public lands in scenic and challenging terrain,” Bekee Hotze, District Ranger for the Salt Lake Ranger District, said. “They will assist the project partners in improving access and safety in the Canyon, while preserving its natural and historical characteristics, so that public may continue to experience and enjoy National Forest System lands in Mill Creek Canyon.”

Improvements will prioritize safety and access through roadway, crosswalks, and parking area enhancements, as well as the enhancement of users’ recreational experience through improved signs and informational wayfinding.

Other improvements will also be completed that are not a part of the FLAP funding, including picnic area parking and trailheads.

“Mill Creek Canyon is our ‘back yard’ here in the City of Millcreek. We are excited to partner with Salt Lake County and the US Forest Service to provide much needed transportation improvements while maintaining the character of this beautiful recreational gem,” Millcreek Mayor Jeff Silvestrini said. “With our population booming, it is imperative that we address access and safety in the canyon. We are happy that we have the opportunity that this FLAP grant will provide to improve this special place.”

Public input provided between Nov. 9-Dec. 9, 2021, will be considered by the project partners during the initial design of the improvement project. Feedback can be submitted by completing a paper form at the open house on Nov. 9 or online at the project website 

PDF Handout: Upper Mill Creek Canyon Road Improvements Project Timeline & Scope of Work

For questions, email Jordan Carroll at