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Sundance Film Festival brings economic boom to Utah, officials say

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PARK CITY, Utah – Economists estimate the Sundance Film Festival will bring in over millions of dollars to the Utah economy. They say it’s already one of the largest economic generators for the state.

In 2015, the festival brought in just over $83.4 million, just under $7 million of that was in state and local tax. Financial analyst and Ciscero Group CEO Randy Shumway said the festival also adds to the local job force.

“The Sundance Festival is the largest international event of this nature for Utah,” Shumway said. “Last year the Sundance festival created 1,350 new jobs.”

Sundance film directors said a lot of that impact has to do with the growth in attendance. Managing Director Sarah Pearce said the core of the festival is the same, but more and more people come to Park City every year.

“What’s grown is the interest,” Pearce said. “The desire for people to come here and be part of a community that’s talking about these amazing stories, and meeting these artists.”

It’s growth that local businesses appreciate. For some, the crowds at Sundance make up about between 15-20 percent of their yearly sales.

“When it first started out there was just a few people, a few extra people in town drinking a cup of coffee, having a slice,” said The Red Banjo Pizzeria Manager Scott Toly. “Now it’s business every day.”

But Shumway said the financial impact goes far beyond what’s spent this week. People come back after the festival and spend more.

“They say, ‘wow! We love it’ and they come back,” Shumway said. “They come to our national monuments and national parks… they come to our ski slopes.”

Directors estimate more than 46,000 people will visit Park City during the festival.