Among the leaders in the Local First community who will share their experiences during the ABA Pre-Winter Institute Conference on Local First/Shop Local Initiatives is Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon, who has supported independent business throughout his political career. He will share insights on how Local First efforts can gain support from local governments at the panel "Establishing Critical Connections: How to Broaden the Appeal and Value of Your IBA So That Governments and Other Institutions Will Support and Sustain It," scheduled from 1:45 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Thursday, January 29.
BTW recently had the opportunity to ask Mayor Corroon about the ways indie businesses contribute to Salt Lake County and what local government has done to support their growth.
BTW: In what ways have independent businesses been important to the development and flavor of Salt Lake County?
Mayor Corroon: Independent businesses here are more important than in most counties in the U.S .of similar size, since there are about 30,000 businesses in Salt Lake County and over 70 percent of them have fewer than 10 employees. These are independent small businesses but they generate over three quarters of the job growth in the County and exemplify an entrepreneurial tradition. Independent businesses also create the character of a business community that distinguishes us from other communities around the country.
BTW: How has your administration supported the growth of independent businesses?
Mayor Corroon: Since taking office as the Mayor of Salt Lake County, I have budgeted for a direct payment of $20,000 annually through our Economic Development Department in support of the "Buy Local First Utah" program, as well as indirect support through the Vest Pocket Business Coalition, the founding entity of Local First Utah and cooperative support for Local First businesses. Salt Lake County also financially supports and works closely with 17 Chambers of Commerce operating in Salt Lake County.
Finally, Salt Lake County created our own small business help and procurement program that we call "UPGRADE." This program provides information and training for local businesses, and provides an Internet resource to provide "one-stop" information about how to start and grow a business, as well as how to do business with government entities.
BTW: What are some of the topics you'll be discussing at ABA's Winter Institute?
Mayor Corroon: Salt Lake County's financial and other support of Local First such as the UPGRADE and procurement help for small independent business programs.
BTW: What should visiting booksellers be sure to experience while they're in town?
Mayor Corroon: Our Salt Lake County Arts and Entertainment venues, owned and operated by the County, such as the Clark Planetarium, Capitol Theatre, perhaps catch a performance by Ballet West or a performance by the Utah Symphony Orchestra at our Symphony Hall. Also walk around the 20-acre "Downtown Rising" project in the Salt Lake Central Business District, one of the largest such projects in the Country right now.
I would also suggest a visit to a Buy Local First business ... and of course, don't miss some of our local delicatessens and restaurants. --Interviewed by Karen Schechner