Salt Lake City is rated in the most recent edition of Places Rated Almanac as the "Number One Place to Live" in the United States. Our economy is strong, our unemployment rate is consistently low, and our quality of life is extraordinary. We can maintain the very best of our community, and build upon it, if we support our existing businesses and resist the trend of homogenizing cities by subsidizing chain stores and downtown-destroying malls. In short, long-term vitality results from quality growth.
Loyal, locally-owned businesses deserve our support. When we "buy locally," our economy is strengthened and our quality of life is enhanced. Consumer dollars are regenerated within our community and we help preserve the charm and uniqueness local businesses provide.
Those considerations should also guide our decisions regarding public subsidies. We are better off helping Sam Weller's Books and The King's English Bookstore avoid the lamentable fate of Waking Owl Books (a wonderful bookstore that was forced to close last year) than pouring public funds into developments comprised of national chains. Those chains are driving out independent booksellers, whose market share has declined from 58% in 1972 to just 17% today.
We have a relatively fixed retail-spending market. Wishful thinking notwithstanding, the retail segment of the Gateway Project will divert consumer dollars from existing retail areas of our city. Likewise,the proposed Grand Mall would divert limited retail spending, further undermining local merchants.
My efforts to preserve the retail sector in our downtown area and to assure that public investments are not used to undermine the existing business community have been enthusiastically supported by members of the Downtown Alliance, Vest Pocket Business Coalition, and the Downtown Retail Merchants Association. Likewise, Utah's weekly business newspaper, The Enterprise, endorsed my mayoral candidacy because of my position on these matters. My Administration remains committed to quality growth and to fiscal policies leading to a long-term healthy business environment.