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Nu Skin convention brings crowds, economic boost to Utah

Published: 10/25/2013

By Jasen Lee, Deseret News — This weekend, about 16,000 people from around the world will descend on Utah’s capital city as part of the third largest convention hosted in the Beehive State this year. Nu Skin Enterprises is hosting its biannual global convention.

The convention, which got underway Thursday and runs through Sunday, is expected to attract visitors from Asia and Europe, as well as all across the United States.

Visit Salt Lake, a nonprofit organization that promotes Salt Lake City as a convention and travel destination, estimates that more people attend the Nu Skin convention than any other similar event, with the exception of the Outdoor Retailer Summer and Winter Markets.

The top-drawing event, the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market, attracts 1,200 vendors, nearly 27,000 attendees and generates almost $25 million in visitor spending. The Winter Market brings in about 22,000 people, while generating around $19.3 million in visitor spending.

For its part, the Nu Skin convention generates more than $14.7 million.

Visitor spending figures are based on surveys of convention delegates conducted by the University of Utah’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research. Surveys over the past five years indicate the average delegate spends $923 while attending a convention in Salt Lake City.

“(The Nu Skin event) impacts restaurants, transportation and shopping,” explained Shawn Stinson, communications director for Visit Salt Lake. “It’s a far-reaching positive impact (attendees) will have in Salt Lake and take back and become ambassadors (of Utah) on our behalf.”

Stinson said Salt Lake City has hosted 16 direct marketing conventions this year, all but two of which have been Utah-based companies. The total economic impact of those events has been more than $57 million, he said.

“Direct marketing plays an important role in Utah’s economy,” Stinson said. “It’s really a substantial impact.”

On Wednesday, Nu Skin announced the opening of its $100 million Innovation Center and expanded U.S. headquarters in downtown Provo.

Designed by Seattle-based architecture firm Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, the expanded U.S. headquarters campus includes more than 300,000 total square feet with amenities such research laboratories, a state-of-the-art data center, office and meeting space, a gym, dining facilities, an auditorium, an indoor fountain and an atrium.

According to Nu Skin Chief Financial Officer Ritch Wood, the company currently employs more than 5,500 people worldwide, with about 1,300 workers in Utah — 900 at the new headquarters. He said the company hopes to increase its workforce by 10 percent by next year.

Over the past three years, sales revenues for Nu Skin have grown from $1.5 billion to nearly $3 billion, Wood said. The company's global sales goal for 2020 is $10 billion, he said.

Wood noted that the company is already at 90 percent capacity at its new facility and could be in line to expand even further in two years.

The company also announced that its new Greater China regional headquarters and Innovation Park in Shanghai is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

“These new facilities reflect our investment in our future and our commitment to advancing Nu Skin’s long-term growth potential,” Wood said. “These new facilities also reflect the hard work and dedication of the entire Nu Skin family and our vision to become the leading direct selling company in the world.”

The new research facilities will be instrumental in the development and evaluation of Nu Skin products, Wood said.