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Salt Lake County Regional Development News

Salt Lake County Prioritizes 100% Net-Renewable Energy by Joining Community Renewable Energy Agency


December 08, 2021

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Many cities in Utah are pursuing adopting 100% net-renewable electricity by 2030. Salt Lake County is officially among them.

What is 100% Net-Renewable Energy?

"Net-100% renewable energy means purchasing the amount of electricity from renewable energy resources in equal amount to the electricity consumed in one year," Utah 100 Communities describes.

One-hundred percent net renewable doesn't get rid of fossil fuel use. All homes are still attached to the power grid and there will be times when power is from fossil fuel assets. But customers will be paying for 100% renewables.

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Why Salt Lake County is Joining a New Energy Agency

Utah 100 Communities is the first renewable energy program of its kind in the United States. Local governments are partnering with Rocky Mountain Power to buy net-100% renewable electricity for residents and business by 2030. 

Utah House Bill 411 created the Community Renewable Energy Program (CREA) in 2019. Since February 2020, it has met bi-monthly to build the electricity bulk-purchasing program for cities that join.

Salt Lake County has been involved since 2019 in this environmental sustainability effort and officially joined the new agency after the Salt Lake County Council approved an agreement in Fall 2021.

By joining, we will serve 11,000 residents living in unincorporated areas with renewable energy. Salt Lake County must contribute $24,000 to the program over two years and will have an elected board seat.

“The program shows Salt Lake County is committed to a clean energy future,” Michael Shea, Salt Lake County’s Sustainability Director, said. “It will help provide low cost and sustainable power to residents of unincorporated areas of the County.”

Other cities participating include Salt Lake City, Millcreek, Holladay, Cottonwood Heights, and Kerns.

What it Means for Residents

During 2022 and 2023, the renewable energy agency will negotiate with Rocky Mountain Power and then submit a plan. Then, Salt Lake County Council will decide if it wants to adopt the ordinance. The public will be involved and notified of any coming changes to electric bills. When the time comes, residents will have the ability to opt out or move to the new renewable energy rate structure. 

Learn more about the Community Renewable Energy Program by contacting Michael Shea, Salt Lake County's Sustainability Director,  at mshea@slco.org or visiting https://www.utah100communities.org/.


Magna Main Street Joins New Utah Main Street Program


December 06, 2021

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Salt Lake County is happy to announce that Historic Magna Main Street is part of the Utah Main Street Program. The State of Utah's program was announced and launched by the Governor's Office of Economic Opportunity in November 2021.

Magna joins 15 other communities in Utah that have iconic and historic Main Streets. The program will revitalize communities’ economy, appearance and image of downtown commercial districts.

What does acceptance into the Utah Main Street Program mean for Magna?

  • Professional workshops offered by the Governor’s Office of Economic Opportunity (Go Utah). These workshops discuss revitalization, small business growth, and how to make communities vibrant destinations.
  • One-on-one consultation with economic experts at Go Utah.
  • Networking and idea-sharing with other Utah Main Street Program communities.
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Has Magna Main Street received any other awards?

The Utah Main Street Program is not the only one that has recognized Magna Main Street as an icon. In early 2021, Magna Main Street joined the National Register of Historic Places. This is the official list of the nation's most historic places deemed worthy of preservation.

Why is Magna Main Street special?

Magna Main Street is a charming downtown that hearkens back to the main streets of old America. Magna began around 1905 when the Utah Copper Company constructed copper facilities in Magna. Magna embodied the American dream: many early residents were immigrants from Eastern Europe and Asia. The original main street included churches, fraternal halls, saloons, and shopping.

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Magna Main Street is even a popular filming location for film and TV companies, including Disney Channel, ABC, CBS, the WB, and Travel Channel. Visitors of Magna Main Street can watch a musical at the Empress Theatre, learn at Magna's historical museum, and visit unique shops. The street is also home to the Fourth of July Parade, Halloween on Main, Magna Main Arts Festival, and car/motorcycle Shows.


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.

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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.”

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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.