East Side looks businesses seek their own identity
December 9, 2011
An economic development task force comprised of East Side business owners told the Summit County Council on Wednesday that the rules and regulations that help the economy on the West Side often hinder the East Side.
Coalville business owner DeAnne Geary told the Council that while the Park City Chamber/Bureau has offered to share some resources, East Side businesses should form their own partnership to address the area’s specific needs.
"We need a voice for the East Side and a gathering of the businesses, and these people don’t really gather," Geary said. "We do benefit from the economic work that is done on the West Side, but we are different businesses and a different culture. We want all the other business owners to get engaged and have an input on the direction the county is going to go."
Francis resident Alison Weyher said that in order to make an integrated business community work in the East Side, the organization has to be organic and created in a ‘peer-to-peer sort of way’ if businesses are going to join.
"Park City is like our rich uncle, and we are grateful for everything, but we don’t want to have to rely on it," Weyher said. "There are unique hardships to businesses over here. There is a shortage of labor and a lot of areas don’t have the sewer or water capacity to provide services to new businesses. Often new roads need to be put in, and that cost goes directly to businesses. Business owners feel isolated and we need to create a cohesive group for them."
Carsten Mortensen, a Coalville resident who runs a shale plant, said that his million-dollar business would not be able to be created today under the county’s strict zoning laws and that many businesses are unable to expand or buy property because of them.
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"The zoning that the county has set up, which is wanted and beneficial to West Side businesses, only allows certain industries in. And the East Side thrives off of industries like timber, oil and mining, not tourism," Mortensen said. "If we are just a tourism county, then me and my business will not be here very long. Families are already having trouble expanding their property to allow their children to live on it. The additional red tape the county is creating only makes that harder."
Geary told the Council that laws restricting what property owners can do on their land has been a point of contention between the East Side and the county government. She described the East Side as "family-owned," a main difference between that region and the West Side.
Councilmember and East Side resident Dave Ure said the presentation did away with "10-years of animosity" between East Side residents and the County Council.
As part of the proposed East Side business alliance, an online directory of local businesses would be created, highlighting the economic diversity of the county. Geary said the website would allow residents to search for a local service provider, such as a plumber, instead of hiring one from Salt Lake.
"If done correctly, it will be a positive thing for existing businesses," Geary said. "If done great, it will encourage new businesses to come in when they see what services are, and are not, established and the marketing that is available."
Summit County Manager Bob Jasper said the online directory and business alliance sounded promising and encouraged them to use the Park City Chamber/Bureau until the East Side business alliance matured.
"Down the road, we will have to continue to come to this table and sit down and discuss the needs of the East Side businesses," Ure said.
The county’s business directory is expected to be online next year. Geary said now that the economic task force has the Council’s approval, they will move forward with creating a Chamber of Commerce for the East Side.