Salt Lake County Regional Development News
September 22, 2020
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.
For Sandy resident Eduardo Hernandez, architecture and design is a family business. COVID-19 Hasn't Changed That.
September 17, 2020
For Sandy resident and business owner Eduardo Hernandez, architecture and design is a family business.
Eduardo operates H4 Design & Construction – a company offering services from architectural and engineering design to various aspects of construction. It’s a set of skills running through the blood of the Hernandez family.
After growing up surrounded by architecture, construction sites, and buildings due to his father’s work, Eduardo decided to study architecture at the Universidad Autonoma Metropolitana in Mexico City.
Three years after graduating, he won an award for his architectural design of a monument — a contest with fierce competitors, among them famous Mexican architect Pedro Ramirez Vazquez. From there, he grew his business and made several buildings in Mexico featuring contemporary designs and saw more awards for his hard work.
With 10+ years of experience and success under his belt, in 2006 he set his eyes on the American market and started a business in Texas. Unfortunately, shortly thereafter the Great Recession hit which created widespread difficulties for many in the construction and real estate sectors. It was a setback.
When his oldest daughter Rebeca moved to Utah to attend Brigham Young University and study civil engineering, the family saw it as an opportunity to relocate together and grow the family business.
“When I moved to Utah, we started slow and steady making some house remodels and residential projects,” Eduardo said. “When people came to know us, we got more projects — interesting ones — like we’re doing now. The cities trust us. We have good communication.”
His other son and daughter are also studying to become architects at Salt Lake Community College and plan to transfer to the University of Utah. Once they graduate, they plan to work alongside each other and eventually take over H4 Design. In the meantime, both of his daughters are gaining valuable experience in their roles as project manager and drafter.
A new setback, however, caused the business to adapt once again: the economic and health impacts of COVID-19.
“We have had a setback, but it is not too hard like the one during the [Great] Recession,” Eduardo said.
This year, H4 changed its approach. Previously, the business was invested in designing and constructing restaurants. The food service industry is within the top 3 industries most significantly impacted in Salt Lake County, according to taxable sales decreases reported the past five months. H4 lost two major buffet-style restaurant accounts after COVID-19 forced the restaurants to cancel their plans. It significantly changed the business’ schedule.
“I had a lot of clients in the restaurant sector. Since May-June, we decided to move from that sector, so we are mostly into residential and commercial projects; like apartment complexes, condos and commercial clients not in the restaurant industry.”
To help H4 in adapting its focus, the family business applied for Salt Lake County’s Round 2 of the Small Business Impact Grant on August 11. He was approved and received funds by August 26.
“We’re glad to receive it. It helps a lot right now because [the grant] helps to keep the business running. It gives us the chance to move from point A to B, to survive. We will survive with this.”
The Small Business Impact Grant, that helped Eduardo and H4 Design, closes applications on Sept. 18 at 5 p.m. There's still time for more small businesses to apply. Do it now at slco.org/covidgrants/.
September 17, 2020
To remember and mark the 19th anniversary of 9/11 in 2020, Salt Lake County’s AmeriCorps Most Vulnerable Populations (MVP) Program gave back to the refugee community in Salt Lake City.
The AmeriCorps MVP Program aims at providing support to Salt Lake City’s homeless and refugee populations by assisting them in gaining employment and stable housing.
Representatives from partners at the Road Home, Utah Community Action, International Rescue Committee, Catholic Community Services, First Step House, and Housing Connect all came out to help!
Salt Lake County partnered with the International Rescue Committee's New Roots Program at their Wheadon Farm in Draper assisting with beautification projects. County volunteers helped refugee farmers to harvest tomatoes and Serrano peppers. Residents can even purchase some of the produce harvested at several farmers' markets throughout the County and support these refugee Utahns!
Learn more about the New Roots Program and the International Rescue Committee at https://newrootsslc.com.
September 03, 2020
A second survey of 800 Salt Lake County residents during the Summer of 2020 by Y2 Analytics gives local elected officials and decision makers greater understanding of local consumer confidence and trends during the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are four top economic takeaways.
1. Negative Outlook Despite Upward Economic Trends
Residents were substantially more concerned about about the present and future of the coronavirus crisis than they were in May. Unfortunately, only 16% thought the worst of it is behind us (though cases peaked in July, they have been on the decline and plateaued in August).
2. Residents Support Mask Up
The summer saw significant increase in consumers' widespread support across Salt Lake County for safety measures that involve requiring face coverings. Mayor Jenny Wilson first required face coverings at the end of June, and in August it was extended through the end of the year. The Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute has said that the mask requirement has been one of the most important economic tools deployed by Salt Lake County.
3. Let Them Eat Cake (or Pizza)
Residents are more comfortable now eating out at restaurants than they were earlier in the pandemic. Of course, more restaurants and businesses also opened for service this summer, which were previously closed by public health orders or later by personal choice. This is good news for the food service industry, as it's been one of the hardest hit financially during COVID-19, losing millions of dollars.
The survey suggests there has also been an increase in residents visiting salons and barbershops — a good sign for those employed in personal services.
4. If You're More Comfortable Doing Leisure Activities, You're Probably High Income
Residents earning more than $100,000 or more continue the trend of being the most comfortable in going to a store, gym, sporting event, or theater. Meanwhile, Salt Lake County residents who have lower incomes (less than $50,000) are much less comfortable engaging in these activities, and are also less motivated by concerns about a recession.
Other Survey Data Highlights:
- Concern of public health impacts versus economic impacts
- Favorability decline of local business, county, and city leaders, as well as Gov. Herbert and President Trump
- COVID's negative impacts on mental health and social life
Interested in more Summer 2020 Consumer Confidence Survey data? View the full 40-page report here.