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Let’s talk about tourism and events.
TOLIVER: The tourism outlook in our county is good; 2014 is going to be a great year for us. Our bookings are up about 350 percent over last year, so we’re really loving 2014. And that’s business that hasn’t even hit our market yet. So the pipeline is filling up.
On the meetings and conventions side, a lot of that is tying into the economic development efforts of the city and being able to focus on things like cycling groups. Cannondale is bringing their global sales summit to our community this June. It’s a two-week conference that we’ll be able to host. We have, obviously, the relationship with Hill Air Force Base and their conferences. The sequestration had an enormous impact on it last year, and it’s great to see all those meetings coming back on line and people being able to gather again.
SMITH: With the closing of the Davis Area Convention and Visitors Bureau at the end of December, many in the community felt like Davis County was perhaps taking a step back from tourism and meetings and conventions. That’s not the case. In fact, we’re full steam ahead. We’re looking at where we market and how we market. In the future what you’ll see is a stronger footprint here in Utah and within a 300-mile radius. So as that brand, tag line and identity is created, it will be much more visible in our cities and just outside of our cities. We want that tag line and identity to be focused within as many cities that lie south-north who want to be embraced by every attraction—the restaurants, the hotels, our shopping centers and our meetings and convention venues.
LUNT: Regarding occupancy, I haven’t seen final numbers for the first quarter yet, but I would say it’s probably the best first quarter Davis has ever had in the 10 years that I’ve been at Davis. All of that money that sequestration saved—they’re spending it this year. Our hotels are just jammed in Layton. It’s hard to get rooms midweek any week going forward.
The convention market is coming back. We are now booked into 2018 with several groups we just signed contracts with. That’s not happened in the past very often. So for us, that’s really encouraging. People are feeling a lot more confident.
Tim, can you touch on healthcare?
PEHRSON: We know that quality healthcare is critical for businesses wanting to relocate. And this community has wonderful healthcare. All the hospitals and health systems here are absolutely committed to providing the highest-quality, most affordable and sustainable healthcare possible. There was an article that came out about a year or so ago that said the Ogden-Clearfield area has the least expensive healthcare in the entire country, period. And the highest quality.
When you have businesses that are looking at coming into your communities, we’re happy to sit down and walk them through what we’re doing, because we think that it’s a selling point. People want to make sure that their employees are going to get high-quality, affordable healthcare, and we’re planning to serve those needs.
Chris, discuss the Northern Utah Chamber Coalition and its impact.
DALLIN: We’ve combined legislative efforts on common issues in Box Elder, Cache, Weber and Davis counties. Our voice is much bigger than it has been in the past. For example, if you just look in the House of Representatives, there are 27 representatives who represent Salt Lake County. Fifteen represent Utah County. In Box Elder there’s two, Weber has five, Davis has eight and Cache has three. If we stay separate of each other, we don’t have the votes to get the things done that we need to get done. But if you combine those, that’s 18 votes. What NUCC does is bring everyone together. We have common goals.
Some of the great things that we’ve been able to accomplish are around transportation, healthcare, capital facilities and other things, because we stuck together. As a result of that, you see more and more leadership in the House and the Senate from Northern Utah, because we’re working with one another and supporting one another.
How is the financial sector faring?
PARKINSON: We just came off of the last best years we’ve ever had in the market. I won’t say that the availability of financing and capital is totally frictionless. Credit quality is still important, it’s really in the back of our minds—actually in front of our minds.
We’re a home-based bank. We’re based in Ogden, although we have banks along the whole Wasatch Front, including Cache Valley. We grew our loan balances last year by 14 percent. Had a ton of liquidity. So there is a lot of capital availability out there, and I’m looking forward to providing it.