Visit Salt Lake is getting a $2.66 million grant from the Governor’s Office of Economic Development to build a huge exhibitor tent that tourism and economic development officials hope will ensure that the twice-a-year Outdoor Retailer trade show will stay in Salt Lake Cityat least through 2016.
GOED’s board of directors on Thursday approved the grant, which Visit Salt Lake will use as part of a package it will present to the owner of the ever-growing trade show, said Scott Beck, CEO of Visit Salt Lake.
"This is the final piece of our proposal" to Nielsen Business Media, Beck said.
How this might fly with Nielsen was unclear Thursday because representatives of the California-based company did not return calls seeking comment. Late Thursday, GOED spokesman Michael Sullivan said a Nielsen official told him the company appreciated the offer and would consider it before announcing a decision on the show’s future in a few weeks.
In May, Nielsen asked seven cities, including Salt Lake City, for proposals to house the trade show, whose summer version has outgrown the 670,000-square-foot Calvin L. Rampton Salt Lake Palace Convention Center, forcing some vendors into temporary structures. Nielsen whittled the number of candidates to Salt Lake City and two other cities in August. A final decision about where Outdoor Retailer will be held beyond its 2014 contract with Salt Lake City is expected soon.
Visit Salt Lake, formerly known as the Salt Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau, will erect a temporary 150,000-square-foot tent on vacant land just north of the Salt Palace to add space for the summer show, which draws exhibitors from around the world. The show had 300 new requests for exhibition space last year.
Shows are held twice a year, usually in January and August. During last year’s shows, the events provided more than $16 million in wages for 611 temporary jobs. GOED’s grant would help the retailers group, which stages the show for the 4,000-member Outdoor Industry Association, continue to provide roughly 550 jobs a year that would pay close to $75 million in new wages through 2016. The group would also pay more than $14 million in taxes to the state over the next four years.
A call for comment to the Outdoor Industry Association was referred to Nielsen and Outdoor Retailer.
Nearly 26,000 buyers and sellers attended the 2012 summer show, bringing $25 million in visitor spending to the state, according to GOED. Another 18,000 people attended the winter show. Together, the summer and winter shows bring about $40 million in spending to the state.
Sullivan cited research that found show participants have demonstrated a fondness for Utah that goes beyond the semi-annual show. Twenty-eight percent return with family members to Utah to vacation within a year of the show. A survey released by the Outdoor Retailers and the Outdoor Industry Association in October showed that Salt Lake City is the top choice for both retailers and exhibitors.
In other action, GOED’s board also approved an $886,712 post-performance tax incentive for GAF, which makes roofing and decking materials, to build a manufacturing and distribution center in Cedar City. GAF has pledged to hire at least 50 workers over the life of the 15-year agreement, although most workers will be hired shortly, Sullivan said.
New Jersey-based GAF will invest $40 million to buy and remodel a 400,000-square-foot building that has stood vacant for four years. The building should open by the end of 2013.
The company is expected to pay $3.5 million in taxes to the state. Employees will earn an amount equal to 175 percent of the average annual compensation in Iron County.
The average county wage is $536 a week, or $27,872 a year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Startup Ogden, which supports young technology companies, will receive a $100,000 grant that will go toward completing a three-story incubator building in downtown Ogden.
The grant will be added to more than $2 million provided by Weber State University, the city of Ogden and the U.S. Economic Development Administration.
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