Most people respect the opinions of outsiders. That's why consultants often starve in their hometowns but are welcomed as experts as soon as they cross the state line.
If that's the case, then Utahns might do well to listen to the ideas of George J. Kallis, the Denver-based senior vice president and Mountain Regional Manager of Coldwell Banker Commercial Real Estate Services, which has a Salt Lake office downtown.Kallis was in town last week to keynote Coldwell Banker's annual real estate forecast seminar and he impressed a lot of people with the research he had done on the Salt Lake market and what the city and state might do to help itself in its quest for the holy grail known as Economic Development.
Kallis, as you may have already heard, is the real estate guru who described Salt Lake City as "a well-kept secret" - not exactly music to the ears of the state's economic development people who spend $5 million a year trying to let the "secret" out of the bag.
Salt Lake, according to Kallis, is a "soft-belt" city (Denver and Albuquerque are others), and is in a prime position to benefit from the overflow of businesses disenchanted with the deteriorating quality of life in such mega-growth areas as Southern California.
To help Salt Lake position itself to capitalize on the spillover, Kallis came armed with a 10-point plan on what the city and state can do to speed things along. Here it is.
1. Continue to actively sell Utah and Salt Lake throughout the U.S. but pick target markets carefully using a "rifle-shot" rather than "shotgun" approach.
2. Capitalize on the state's beauty. Tourism is growing at a rate of 8 percent a year - among the most consistent of any U.S. industry.
3. Make laws governing consumption of alcoholic beverages consistent. "It is difficult to go into one restaurant and get one response on drinking and go into another and have the club approach to drinking. It become a topic of conversation and is confusing. The topic of conversation should be how wonderful Utah is."
4. "Do not be hesitant to welcome your global neighbors to enjoy the beauty of the city and state. There are European countries that have corporations and individuals that average more than 35 work days a year for vacations. They will all love the beauty of Utah . . ."
5. Attract foreign companies with the state's Customs port of entry and freeport zone. Properly market the concept in the U.S. and overseas. Continue unitary tax relief as it is also a stimulant to local existing businesses.
6. With foreign capital and major institutions buying most real estate and the holding period moving up to 15-20 years, a new emphasis on asset management and sincere care and servicing of tenants is mandatory for property managers.
7. Recognize that the U.S. population is aging and business owners and their employees will be older and expect more from the private sector as well as government. State tax laws should reflect this aging trend and not penalize empty-nesters or single adults.
8. Recognize the importance of small-in-size or boutique developers. They will continue to make an impact in the '90s as the incompetents have left the business. Those remaining should be encouraged to find their niche and they should receive financing if they are "truly market specific in their analysis."
9. Don't allow "one of the most classically beautiful downtown areas in the U.S. to have blocks of economic redevelopment in a state of limbo without economic or development solutions. It would be more advantageous if you bulldozed the buildings and made parks out of the sites than allow them to remain in place as they are, incomplete, run down, and providing a negative image to visitors."
10. Go after the Winter Olympics for 2006. "It is a showcase for your city and state. I realize some of your business leaders are concerned about the cost of hosting the Olympics. It is not a cost, it is simply an investment which will be returned to you many times over. Although your committee spent more than $100,000 on a proposal for the games, this money was basically donated by the private sector. To this day, Denver is referred throughout the U.S. as the city that voted against the Olympics. . . . Look at the long-term effect and benefits to your city and state. You can afford the project."