2023 was full of challenges for small businesses in Utah but resources are available

Dec 20, 2023, 4:14 PM

Image of Diggity Dog Resort at 245 West Paramount Avenue in Salt Lake City, one of the businesses t...

Diggity Dog Resort at 245 West Paramount Avenue in Salt Lake City. (Adam Small/KSL NewsRadio)

(Adam Small/KSL NewsRadio)

SALT LAKE CITY — 2023 was a challenging year for businesses in the Beehive State, but owners have a lot of options for support within the state.

The President and CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber, Derek Miller, said interest rates, inflation, wages and worker shortages were all challenging.

“We certainly need to get inflation under control. We just put too many dollars in the system,” he said.

Miller said that although Utah has done well dealing with those higher rates, we should be doing even better. 

On top of that, growth in the state has also brought about challenges. But Miller said the growth isn’t all bad.

“All of our challenges in Utah come by virtue of the fact that we’re growing,” he said. “Challenges with housing costs, challenges with transportation constraints. These challenges are much better than the challenges that come with decline. We would not want to trade our challenges of growth with the challenges that come with decline.”

Worker shortages

Miller said there are tens of thousands of job openings in Utah.

“Even with the high birth rate that we have in Utah, even with the high population growth that we have in Utah, the fact of the matter is we cannot keep up with the number of jobs that we’re creating for the people that we have,” he said.

Additionally, he said there are several things business owners could do to ease that shortage. For one, wages are, unsurprisingly, a big factor in hiring and keeping employees.

“We find businesses, particularly in the hospitality industry, that are already recognizing that increasing wages is an important part of keeping the workforce that they have. Every business understands it’s much better, much less expensive to keep an employee rather than losing an employee and having to retrain,” Miller said.

Beyond increasing wages, businesses can ease worker shortages by offering on-the-job training like upskilling or apprenticeships.

Miller also suggested that businesses can find more opportunities for a workforce by opening their doors to people who have a past criminal record.

“People trying to move on with their lives want a second chance. But often that criminal record keeps them from that,” he said.

Where small business owners in Utah can go for help

Amid the challenges, Miller said, “The good news that is we have so many resources available for small business[es] in this state.”

According to Miller, it’s key for business owners to develop resources and find support. He said there are several organizations, like the Salt Lake Chamber, whose sole purpose is to help businesses succeed.

“We have small business resource centers that come out of the Governor’s Office of Economic Opportunity. Local chambers of commerce have resources for their small businesses. And here at the Salt Lake Chamber, we have a women’s business center to help those women-owned small business owners to develop their plans and to take them to the next level,” Miller said.

According to Miller, the Salt Lake Chamber just launched a diverse-owned business accelerator to help owners with fundamentals like creating business plans or expanding their business.

On top of offering resources, Miller said one of the things the Chamber has been working on is removing overburdensome regulations.

“At the end of the day, every small business … what they think about all day, and frankly often during the night, is ‘What am I gonna do to keep my doors open? How am I going to keep my head above water,'” he said. “And so they need advocates on their behalf that are looking out for these kinds of things.”

Related: Mortgage rates back below 7%, how does it affect Utah buyers?

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Business + Economy

Rural wildlife firefighters, "Hot Shots"...

Michael Camit

Utah is struggling to retain its rural ‘Hotshots’

Filling jobs of rural wildlife firefighters can be difficult due to the cost of living according to the Utah Division of Forestry, Fires and State Lands.

2 days ago

A car is filled at a gas pump in Sandy on Tuesday, March 19, 2024....

Adam Small

Experts predict record number of drivers, lower Memorial Day gas prices

Experts have predicted that 43.8 million people will travel this weekend. They could experience lower gas prices.

2 days ago

People skate at Millcreek Common in Millcreek on Monday, Dec. 5, 2022. The New Americans Internatio...

Eric Cabrera

New Americans International Market offers space for newly settled Americans to share culture and connect

The New Americans International Market at Millcreek Common is helping new refugees and immigrants connect with the community.

6 days ago

A customer checks prices while shopping at a grocery store in Wheeling, Ill., Friday, Jan. 19, 2024...

Curt Gresseth

Inflation eases but grocery store prices in Utah still stinging

Inflation eases slightly in April, but in Utah, consumers are still feeling the pinch of grocery-store prices.

7 days ago

FILE - A street sign is seen in front of the New York Stock Exchange June 14, 2022. The U.S. stock ...

Simone Seikaly

LISTEN: Utah analyst on stock market highs

Stock market investors are reportedly energized by a report showing inflation is cooling somewhat across the U.S.

7 days ago

An EV charging in Salt Lake City. SLC, like many cities around the United States, lacks the chargin...

Alexandrea Bonilla

EV charging is lacking in Salt Lake City

Only about 1.6% of Salt Lake City listings are EV friendly. That makes homes with electric vehicle chargers a hot commodity.

7 days ago

Sponsored Articles

a doctor putting her hand on the chest of her patient...

Intermountain Health

Intermountain nurse-midwives launch new gynecology access clinic

An access clinic launched by Intermountain nurse-midwives provides women with comprehensive gynecology care.

Young couple hugging while a realtor in a suit hands them keys in a new home...

Utah Association of Realtors

Buying a home this spring? Avoid these 5 costly pitfalls

By avoiding these pitfalls when buying a home this spring, you can ensure your investment will be long-lasting and secure.

a person dressed up as a nordic viking in a dragon boat resembling the bear lake monster...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

The Legend of the Bear Lake Monster

The Bear Lake monster has captivated people in the region for centuries, with tales that range from the believable to the bizarre.


Live Nation Concerts

All the artists coming to Utah First Credit Union Amphitheatre (formerly USANA Amp) this summer

Summer concerts are more than just entertainment; they’re a celebration of life, love, and connection.

Mother and cute toddler child in a little fancy wooden cottage, reading a book, drinking tea and en...

Visit Bear Lake

How to find the best winter lodging in Bear Lake, Utah

Winter lodging in Bear Lake can be more limited than in the summer, but with some careful planning you can easily book your next winter trip.

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Ski more for less: Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

2023 was full of challenges for small businesses in Utah but resources are available