Salt Lake City officials now routinely consider how their decisions might impact locally owned businesses, thanks to the work of a new independent business coalition and the election last year of Mayor Rocky Anderson.
The Salt Lake Vest Pocket Business Coalition was launched in early 1999 and now includes more than 150 local businesses. The Coalition works to generate increased awareness of the economic and community contributions of independent businesses.
Several members of the Coalition’s board serve on a newly formed business advisory committee, which provides feedback to the mayor and the Department of Economic and Community Development on issues affecting local businesses.
The Coalition scored a big victory this month when a proposal for a large shopping mall was dropped by the City Council. Coalition members had joined with other local activists, including the Sierra Club’s Utah chapter, to oppose the mall.
Mayor Anderson was an early opponent as well, contending that the “Sprawl Mall” would threaten the downtown economy and exacerbate sprawl. When asked about the developer’s threat to build in a nearby town, he said that the city’s policies should not be “dictated by other communities that have already shown that they will grab onto just about any kind of chain store development in an attempt to build up their sales tax base.” Salt Lake City, he said, has a charm and unique identity worth protecting.