29 May 2019 KBJW Attends Chamber RVA InterCity Visit – Salt Lake City, Utah
KBJW Vice President Martha Shotwell had the opportunity to travel to Salt Lake City, Utah with the Greater Richmond Chamber of Commerce for their annual “InterCity Visit.” The InterCity visits were created to give Richmond region leaders an opportunity to “engage in meaningful dialogue and generate innovative ideas from peer cities that are open to sharing their successes and failures.”
This marked the 26th year of the program and we are eager to hear all the exciting news from our very own Martha Shotwell. Here is a brief Q and A we had with her upon her return from the 3 day adventure.
Q: This isn’t your first InterCity Visit with the Chamber – why do you enjoy going on these trips?
A: It’s interesting to look at cities through a different lens. Instead of travelling as tourists, we get an inside look at other cities’ approaches to economic development, transportation, housing and other issues. Talking about these things with other metro Richmonders, I come away with a deeper understanding of my own city. I also enjoy reconnecting with people I seldom see, and getting to know a few new people. And of course it’s fun to travel to new places.
Q: Why was Salt Lake City chosen this year?
A: SLC is similar to Richmond in size. The city has a successful track record in big projects such as the Olympics and light rail. SLC gets accolades as a top city to live and work. Their successful downtown redevelopment was of special interest as RVA contemplates the future of the Coliseum area. According to ChamberRVA, “Part of the city’s appeal for our visit is its strong sense of community, its success in navigating change and its overall economic health.”
Q: Tell us the top 3 things you learned from the trip this year?
First, the power of “starting with yes.” SLC has a can-do attitude and an entrepreneurial spirit. We heard a lot about trust between leaders and how they develop win-win scenarios to get more done. A non-profit called “Envision Utah” facilitates a community engagement process that includes public officials, business leaders, developers, conservationists, community leaders and others to establish a shared vision. With buy-in established up front, projects have a better chance of moving forward.
Second, shopping malls are still thriving in the right environment. SLC transformed its downtown with its City Creek Center, a 20-acre mixed-use development adjacent to Temple Square. Other downtown development followed. Not so applicable to RVA: the project was financed by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints at an estimated cost of $1.5 billion.
Finally – contrary to popular perception, there are plenty of places to get a drink in Salt Lake City! But draft beer is limited to 3.2% ABV and liquor pours are strictly measured.
Q: Overall what did you think of Salt Lake City?
A: I loved it. It’s the cleanest city I’ve ever seen, and easy to get around.
Q: Have you ever thought – gee I wish I lived in this city instead of Richmond after going on one of these trips? If so which city?
A: Sure – Salt Lake City in May is near perfect. But the thought was fleeting – I couldn’t endure such a long snow season! It is on my list to revisit, though, hopefully during a long visit to Utah.
Q: Do you have a favorite city that you’ve visited? If so which one and why?
A: Salt Lake City. It’s a progressive city with plenty to do, and the mountains are a quick 20 minutes away.
Q: Overall what was the best part of your trip to Salt Lake City?
A: The informal conversations with other attendees – on the bus, wandering around Temple Square, among the dinosaurs at the Natural History Museum. I learned more talking with others about what we had seen and heard than I did during the actual presentations.
Q: Do you know which city is on the agenda for next year? And will you be going?
A: Columbus, Ohio. Yes, I plan to go.
Q: How have these things you learned on these trips helped you as one of the leaders at KBJW?
A: We all have a part to play in representing KBJW to the community. My Chamber involvement gives me a chance to tell our story (and that no, we are not lawyers or CPAs). I get to talk with other business people, including other engineering companies. This time around it was helpful comparing notes on engineering software and IT issues.