SALT LAKE CITY — The rapid expansion of Utah's homegrown Silicon Slopes Tech Summit could get a huge boost under changes proposed in SB146, an effort sponsored by Sen. Jake Anderegg, R-Lehi.
After drawing 5,000 to its debut in 2017, the tech summit brought over 14,000 to the Salt Palace Convention Center in mid-January, which included two days of workshops and presentations by national leaders from the innovation sector. Organizers have ambitious goals for growing the annual gathering and are aiming to reach the 40,000-50,000 attendance mark in the next three to five years.
Anderegg said his proposal would help make available up to $1 million in ongoing funding to help the event expand its reach.
"Our hopes would be that this could be used for marketing purposes and promotional services outside of the state to bring people nationally and internationally to the festival," Anderegg said.
Current language in the bill would modify provisions that apply to disbursements from the state's Industrial Assistance Fund, but Anderegg said the funding could end up coming via a stand-alone allocation managed and overseen by the Governor's Office of Economic Development.
Anderegg hopes the assistance, if approved, will help grow the tech summit to the level where it rivals the previous attendance and economic clout of the now-departed Outdoor Retailers convention. The event was attracting 20,000 to 25,000 and generating around $45 million in economic activity at each of its twice-annual shows in Salt Lake City. After 20 years in Utah, Outdoor Retailers relocated to Denver and just completed its first show there following a dispute between organizers and state lawmakers over public lands policy.
Anderegg, whose Lehi district is home to a slew of technology and innovation companies, said the funding, if approved, would be accompanied by robust oversight to ensure a worthwhile return on investment, as well as a five-year sunset clause.