The Church holds business interests that are primarily an outgrowth of enterprises which were begun when the Church was isolated in the West. The commercial businesses owned by the Church help serve the needs of the Church in accomplishing its mission. The money made from these commercial enterprises is relatively small; the majority of financial resources in the Church comes from the tithes and offerings of Church members.
President Gordon B. Hinckley described, “Essentially, the business assets which the Church has today are an outgrowth of enterprises which were begun in the pioneer era of our history when we were isolated in the valleys of the mountains of western America. For instance, a newspaper was then needed to keep the people advised of what was going on at home and abroad. The result was the Deseret News, which has been published now for 135 years. In the 1920s, government officials encouraged newspapers to set up radio stations. That was in the infancy of the broadcasting industry. One such radio station was established by the Deseret News here in Salt Lake City. From that has grown, by the natural process of development, holdings of a number of broadcasting properties.
“As all of you will recognize, the ability and the facilities to communicate are among our great and constant needs. The ownership of these properties, both newspaper and broadcasting facilities, while they are operated as commercial entities, both directly and indirectly helps us in our responsibility to communicate our message and our point of view.
“The Church was a pioneer in the sugar beet industry to help our farmers who needed a cash crop. One of our present properties is an outgrowth of that.
“A beautiful hotel was constructed adjacent to Temple Square seventy-five years ago to provide a comfortable hostelry for visitors to this city.
“Merchandising interests are an outgrowth of the cooperative movement which existed among our people in pioneer times. The Church has maintained certain real estate holdings, particularly those contiguous to Temple Square, to help preserve the beauty and the integrity of the core of the city. All of these commercial properties are tax-paying entities.
“… The combined income from all of these business interests is relatively small and would not keep the work going for longer than a very brief period” (Gordon B. Hinckley, “Questions and Answers,” Ensign, Nov. 1985, 49).
“The Church and Its Financial Independence,” LDS Newsroom