SALT LAKE CITY – Very few people will be in the audience when Republican Vice President Mike Pence and Democratic California Sen. Kamala Harris face off at the University of Utah Wednesday night for the vice presidential debate. Even so, Utah is counting on an economic boost from the debate.
Salt Lake Chamber President and CEO Derek Miller said that, typically, cities earn $13 for every $1 they spend on the debate, which can add up when towns shell out millions to host the event.
But even with few people in the audience due to COVID-19 restrictions, Miller said the debate could be good for Utah down the road.
“The good news for us is that it’ll shine a light on the good things that are happening in our state. So, it is probably more of a long-term impact to our economy than … a short-term impact,” Miller said.
Companies looking to relocate will like, Miller believes, how Utah is handling the COVID-19 pandemic.
“[We have] the lowest mortality rate in the country, the second-lowest unemployment rate in the country. From the very beginning, we as a state and our state leaders … have focused on a balanced approach, and I think we’re seeing that balance pay off,” Miller said.
Miller believes that a balanced approach will make Utah an attractive place for employees as well.
“Some industries are already growing again. It doesn’t mean that we’re out of the woods, but if you’re looking for a job, there’s probably nowhere better to be than the Salt Lake metro area,” Miller said.
Utah benefitted from The Great Recession, Miller said, when people and companies looked to relocate. And he believes that could happen again as the debate happens during the pandemic, along with the increasing popularity of working from home.
“People no longer have to work in the same place they live. It will be to Utah’s benefit for a number of people to say, ‘Look, my job may be in Silicon Valley, but I want to live in Silicon Slopes,'” Miller said.