I have been fortunate to work closely with and learn from many of our local business owners over the last few months in my new role as Mayor. I’m so impressed with the adaptability I’ve seen them display throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. And I appreciate all of you who have taken precautions for your employees and the public — often at great financial sacrifice — as we deal with this health crisis.
Just as some parts of our city and state have been disproportionately impacted by the health effects of the virus, I know some sectors of our business community have been particularly hard hit, and a lot of unknowns remain. If you haven’t already, please reach out to our city’s Economic Development team. We’ve started convening several small business and industry roundtables to identify pressing needs. Our Economic Development team also released another survey this week to better determine the impacts of COVID-19 on the local business community. We continue to develop products based on that data that will enable businesses to succeed and have already engaged stakeholders on our economic recovery plans.
Now that many businesses have reopened in Salt Lake City and throughout the state, it’s clear that flexibility and innovation will continue to be paramount. Here in Salt Lake City, we are still viewing this crisis first and foremost as a public health issue. The virus continues to spread faster among parts of our city compared to neighboring cities and counties, which means we’ve encouraged businesses to be vigilant and open as they feel comfortable. The health of our community, particularly those who are vulnerable, is vitally important.
During this moderate-risk phase, we are actively at work on implementing our economic recovery. We continue to engage our small businesses, which constitute 90% of our 17,000 businesses in the city. As we innovate our approach from those engagements, we want to share with others what we are doing to improve, and help other communities learn from what we are doing. As the capital city, we welcome collaborations from across the state in order to help us all achieve more for the residents of the state.
One exciting area that holds a lot of promise is our burgeoning life sciences sector. As we move from the urgent phase into stabilization, we are focused on imagining and amplifying the culture of tech that already calls the capital city home by building a more sustainable economy to benefit all city residents. We’ve seen just how important the life sciences industry is for public health during this crisis, but we also know it will be a key component to economic recovery in the months and years ahead.
Salt Lake City’s diverse and engaged community is what sets it apart from many places, and will be the key factor that propels us into a solid financial future. With that in mind, my team is working closely with our Business Advisory Board as well as a roundtable formed to capture input that will encompass the needs of the entire Salt Lake City workforce. The recommendations and perspectives gleaned will go a long way toward ensuring we can rebuild our economy in an equitable way.
There’s no denying that this has been a very difficult chapter, and I know many of you are feeling that difficulty intimately. But we learn and grow through tests like these, and I am more optimistic and feel more confident than ever that our economy will rebound and thrive going forward. Our business environment is a major draw that makes Salt Lake City the incredible, sought-after place it is, and I so appreciate all the great things you’ve done and will continue to do for this unique, lovely place as we recover and grow, together.