Back in April, I suggested that Provo could capitalize better on the LDS Church’s General Conference weekend. The idea is that tens of thousands of people come to Utah for conference and spend time and money in various Utah cities. Many of those visitors have, or could acquire, a connection to Provo, yet there is apparently no overt effort to entice them to the heart of Utah County.
In the time since I wrote that post, nothing seems to have changed.
However, ABC 4 reported this weekend that Salt Lake City reaps major economic benefits from conference. The article reports that more than 100,000 people flood to Salt Lake City for conference, often spilling out into surrounding businesses.
All five sessions fill up the 21,200-seat LDS Conference Center. Afterwards, people are hungry so they fill up local restaurants like the Blue Lemon right across the street.
The result, according to one business owner, is “pretty epic.”
Provo may never see the kind of influx that Salt Lake experiences, but with a huge LDS population, BYU, ample assembly space, and many other resources, Provo could still see greater economic benefits from conference. Those benefits won’t materialize on their own, however, and until there is a concerted effort to draw more visitors the city is essentially throwing away money.