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Taylorsville officials travel to Las Vegas in hopes of ‘winning’ some new businesses for the city

Aug 01, 2018 12:51PM ● Published by Carl Fauver

Economic Development Corporation of Utah (edcUTAH) officials say Taylorsville representatives have learned how to make the most out of the Utah booth they sponsor each year, at the annual International Council of Shopping Centers Real Estate convention in Las Vegas. (Taylor Brightwell/edcUTAH)

By Carl Fauver | carlf@mycityjournals.com 

“It’s like ‘speed dating’ for economic development.” 

That’s the best way Taylorsville Mayor Kristie Overson could describe the whirlwind three days she recently spent in Las Vegas — with City Council Chairman Brad Christopherson and Economic Development Director Wayne Harper — as they met with people who could change the city’s shopping and dining landscape at the drop of a hat. Or the investment of several million dollars, to be more precise. 

Overson, Christopherson and Harper were the city’s three-member lobbying tag team at the annual International Council of Shopping Centers Real Estate Convention (ICSC RECon) in Las Vegas. And at least one person who is in a position to know said the Taylorsville team does it better than anyone from our state.

“(Taylorsville representatives at the ICSC RECon) are the best in the business when it comes to this kind of show,” said Economic Development Corporation of Utah Community Strategy Director Max Backlund. “They run a very good, clean process of lining up meetings ahead of time and then not wasting any time, talking with potential developers. We (edcUTAH) help them prep for the meetings. But the city reps take the meetings themselves and are pretty tight-lipped about who they speak with.”

Indeed, when you try to ask Overson, Christopherson or Harper who they met with, “speed dating” quickly becomes more of an espionage spy thriller. 

“We really can’t talk about what particular businesses are considering coming because it is so competitive trying to get them here,” said Christopherson. 

“You really should talk to (Economic Development Director) Wayne (Harper),” Overson said. “He might be able to give you more specifics.” 

Then Harper is quick to add, “I would really love to talk specifics, but the businesses have asked me not to.” 

So no one is saying exactly who the Taylorsville people met with in their more than 20 meetings with various commercial representatives at the conference. But they are quick to explain, the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” recently passed by Congress should help grease the wheels for more economic growth in the city, through the creation of something called “Opportunity Zones.” 

“In a nutshell, these zones provide tax incentives to businesses that invest in lower income areas,” Harper explained. “Here in Taylorsville, we have several large areas that have been identified as ‘Opportunity Zones.’ This designation gives us one more strong point to make to potential investors, that establishing a new business in our city makes good economic sense.” 

Christopherson also added, a recent decision by the Wasatch Front Regional Council (WFRC) to invest some $18 million to “spruce up” Taylorsville shopping areas is also very attractive to potential investors. 

“In years past, developers at the ICSC convention have said Taylorsville looks ‘dirty,’ and we don’t want to locate there,” Christopherson said. “But now, the WFRC has agreed to invest millions to help us bury power lines, replace gutters and sidewalks, create bus route pull outs and install some decorative rock walls. All of these improvements will make it easier to convince businesses to locate here.” 

While this year was the first time Christopherson attended the ICSC RECon — and it was Overson’s first trip to the Las Vegas convention in six years — Harper almost never misses it. And he agrees, the combination of new tax law incentives and the WFRC commitment to make improvements made this one of the best years ever to get potential investors to hear the Taylorsville story. 

“This conference is one of the most impactful and important meetings we have for economic development,” Harper said. “Although I can’t give specifics now, most of these potential investors want to be open for the Christmas shopping season. So, the names will be coming out soon.” 

Much of the city’s economic development and new business focus remains on the west side of Redwood Road in the shopping plazas both south and north of 5400 South. But Harper said investors are evaluating some other areas of the city. 

“Our Economic Development Department is doing so many things to help draw businesses to Taylorsville,” Overson said. “Because we were so well prepared, we accomplished as much in two days of meetings (at the Las Vegas convention) as we would have in months, here at home.” 

 

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