Incoming Chamber/Bureau chairman sees change in future
Times are changing in Park City, and Chris Eggleton wants to ensure the Park City Chamber/Bureau is ready to adapt.
Eggleton, managing director of Destination Hotels Utah and a longtime prominent figure in the Kimball Junction business scene, is set to take over as chairman of the Chamber/Bureaus board of directors. He sees a town and a business community in the midst of a shift. As companies such as Armada Skis, 3DSIM and SnowSports Industries America — which all have recently moved here or announced plans to do so — begin to see Park City as an attractive destination, the town may begin to become less resort-oriented.
What that means for the Chamber/Bureau, Eggleton said, is that it must be ready to adapt alongside the community. Fortunately, the organization’s leadership team has already been working hard to keep up. Eggleton said his goal as chairman will not be to overhaul anything but rather to keep up the momentum.
“We’re all more and more adept at changing much more rapidly than the past,” he said. “So we can’t sort of sit back on our laurels and stamp and repeat, whether that’s membership programs or other things, the same way we did 15 years ago.”
It’s been helpful to have assistance from people like Jeff Jones, Summit County’s director of economic development. Jones has been critical in getting companies to relocate to Park City, and Eggleton is optimistic more will be on the way in the coming years, as Utah continues to be seen as a great place to do business.
“I think we’ll continue to see Park City as an attractive destination,” Eggleton said. “As people look to Utah as a welcoming state, certainly Park City is in a prominent spot among places to live and work.”
Like the Chamber/Bureau, existing businesses must also adapt to what’s coming. Eggelton said the future of the town was shrouded during the litigation surrounding Park City Mountain Resort, but it’s become more clear since Vail Resorts bought PCMR in 2014.
Some see the change in the future as a good, while others are less optimistic. Eggleton can understand both perspectives, but said it’s coming either way so it’s important to make the best of it. He believes there’s a tremendous opportunity for growth if the community can do that.
“It really becomes a situation where the business community and the leadership and the municipalities can really partner to say, ‘How do we manage the change?’ We’ve got to make choices that create the most benefit with the least amount of downside or cost,” he said. “It’s a difficult position to be in because, for many people, change is difficult inherently.”
In addition to managing change, Eggleton sees transportation as an issue that will define the community in the coming years. He said being able to market Park City’s accessibility is crucial for the Chamber/Bureau because it represents a major advantage over other ski destinations in the region.
“Our physical distance to Salt Lake is definitely closer to most, and that’s valued, but if it takes three hours to go 25 miles, there’s probably nothing more frustrating from a destination visitors perspective,” he said.
He also said the Chamber/Bureau is paying close attention to developments that might lead to another Olympics being held in Salt Lake City. Park City has been able to maintain its assets from the 2002 Games and would look forward to helping host another Olympics. But ensuring the town is ready isn’t easy.
“That’s certainly something we don’t want to lose sight of because before we know it, it’ll be upon us,” he said. “The planning takes place so early.”
Through all the challenges and transitions Park City will face in the coming decade and beyond, Eggleton is optimistic. And he’s confident the Chamber/Bureau can help build a future the town can be proud of. That’s the primary reason he’s looking forward to his term as chairman of its board.
“Having come from Southern California, a very large space where you don’t have a sense of community, it’s great being able to have access to decision-makers that are willing to care and reach out and be collaborative,” he said. “That’s whats exciting.”
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