How the 2014 General Session impacted business

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

The Utah business community commends the Utah legislature for another great year for business. The 2014 General Session wrapped up in March, and the newly released Salt Lake Chamber 2014 Legislative Scorecard highlights how the business community’s policy priorities fared.

“Utah’s economy 
is in a spectacular position because
 of the leadership 
of our Governor, Legislature and
 our great business community working together to bring compromise for important progress for our state,” said Lane Beattie, president and CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber.

The Salt Lake Chamber Vote website monitored the course of 298 bills that had an impact on business through the legislative session. Through that website tool, more than 9,800 emails were sent to state representatives, asking them to act on policy decisions. Eleven of 13 business community priority bills passed, and the average of “yes” votes on priority bills stood at 83 percent. With a 93 percent passage of supported bills, 2014 was an excellent year for Utah’s business community.

Here’s what the Utah’s Legislature helped accomplish this year:


•  Provided $62 million to public education, increasing the weighted pupil unit by 2.5 percent and
another $62 million to fund 10,300 new students
• Invested toward goal of 66 percent of adults with a postsecondary degree or certificate, providing $50 million to equalize funding and increase capacity in our state’s higher education institutions
• Expanded efforts to reach goals of 90 percent proficiency in reading and math among Utah students, allocating more than $7 million for preschool and early intervention programs for at-risk children, and $20 million to STEM education


• Approved a multi-decade effort to support the development of a convention center hotel, benefiting
the entire state
• Authorized $400,000 in business marketing, corporate recruitment and business expansion efforts, as well as $15 million in tourism marketing
• Addressed critical community issues through investing $100,000 to incentivize employers to hire the homeless
• Tackled issues of panhandling and solicitation around Utah’s highways and sidewalks that negatively impact the ability to conduct business in a safe manner
• Partnered to fund $400,000 for the Your Utah, Your Future quality growth initiative


• Funded a $500,000 air quality education campaign
• Provided $1 million in scientific research to help better understand the causes of air pollution
• Established a $200,000 fund to help small businesses reduce air emissions through new technologies and programs
• Created a $250,000 fund to incentivize the conversion of sole-source wood burning homes to cleaner energy heating
• Addressed mobile emissions through enabling enhanced infrastructure for electric vehicles,
providing tax credits to purchase alternative fuel vehicles and mandating 50 percent of the State’s vehicle fleet to be highly efficient vehicles by 2015


• Jump-started a robust conversation to address both the $11.3 billion funding gap outlined in the 2040 Unified Transportation Plan and the significant need for increased education funding
• Moved toward improving Utah’s air quality and set the stage for further discussions on issues such as Tier 3 fuels and improving statewide transit systems

The 2014 Legislative Scorecard also has a bill-by-bill tally of priority bills and their impacts on Utah business. To see the PDF of the 2014 Legislative Scorecard, click here


Unemployment hits a five-year low in Utah

Thursday, March 13th, 2014


The beginning of March marked a great announcement from the State of Utah.

The Salt Lake Chamber joined Gov. Gary Herbert to announce that Utah’s unemployment rate dropped to 3.9 percent, according to the Department of Workforce Services. The unemployment rate in Utah hasn’t been below 4 percent since November 2008.

Currently, the national unemployment rate is 6.6 percent, which is 2.7 points higher than it is in the Beehive State.

This is a testament to the great work of Utah’s private sector business leaders for helping create jobs. In the past 12 months, Utah has added nearly 35,000 jobs to the workforce, contributing to a 2.8 percent job growth rate. Thanks to this, Utah’s economy is gaining momentum and moving towards a strong 2014.

The Salt Lake Chamber joins with Gov. Gary Herbert to make job creation a top priority. We support the governor’s plan to facilitate the creation of 100,000 jobs in 1,000 days. As of right now, Utah is over the 70,000 mark for this goal, which is ahead of pace. The Chamber also has a complimentary private sector job creation plan, the Utah Jobs Agenda. This year, Utah’s private sector is set to achieve the Utah Jobs Agenda goal of creating 150,000 jobs in five years—more than a year ahead of schedule. We will continue to make job creation a major focus.

Utah’s economy and business climate continues to be strong, thanks to sensible and stable taxes, a well-educated workforce and our investment in infrastructure. These are things we need to sustain in order to keep up this kind of progress–and with the collaborative spirit of Utah, that’s something we can certainly do.

Utah Business Column: Going to Pot

Monday, February 24th, 2014

Natalie Gochnour, Salt Lake Chamber chief economist and senior advisor, tackles the repercussions of the legalization of recreational marijuana use in Colorado in her most recent Utah Business column.

Gochnour draws comparisons between Colorado and Utah and examines the economic development consequences of this new policy–she even argues how Utah has an advantage over its neighboring state.

Here’s a snippet of the article:

The legalization of pot has lots of economic overtones, but none as significant as the economic development repercussions. Shortly after Colorado legalized pot, I heard a seasoned business leader with businesses in both states comment on the detrimental effect Colorado’s actions would have on its economy. With legalization, prices will fall. As prices fall and the legal barriers are removed, consumption will rise. Business leaders cringe at the thought of a workforce that is high.

You can read the entire column here:

Apply for the next cohort of 10,000 Small Businesses

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

Our economy relies on entrepreneurs to maintain a vibrant and prosperous economic environment. It’s only natural that an investment in small businesses and entrepreneurship would be a good decision.

In a $500 million nationwide investment, Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses aim to provide regional small business owners with a practical foundation for revenue growth and job creation through specifically tailored no-cost education and training, business support services, networking clinics, and capital acquisition strategies. As a scholarship program, 10,000 Small Businesses is completely free to those companies who are accepted. For Utah specifically, the investment in small businesses is $15 million.

10,000 Small Businesses program is now accepting applications for the next cohort of small business owners. The application deadline is this coming Friday, Oct. 4.* You can apply and learn more by clicking here.

Qualifications for the program are:

·     Verified ownership of a business entity for at least two years
·     Minimum of four employees
·     Gross annual revenue of $150,000 to $4 million (some flexibility to this requirement may be granted)

This Thursday, Oct. 3, a final application workshop will take place at Salt Lake Community College, which is Goldman Sachs’ educational partner for administering the 10,000 Small Businesses program. Learn more at

More than thirty people graduated from the inaugural 10,000 Small Businesses cohort this past spring. Over the five month period of the program, the participating companies created upwards of 100 jobs in our community.

The program is better than an MBA – you study your own businesses, not someone else’s. It is 100% focused on identifying and executing on opportunities for growth.

Small business owners and managers, you won’t want to miss out on applying for the next cohort of Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program, which begins January 2014. You can learn more and apply at

* – Even if you miss the October 4 deadline for the cohort starting Jan. 2014, you can still submit your applications to be considered for future cohorts.

Pac-12 football fans bring more than cheers to Utah

Thursday, August 29th, 2013

Image courtesy of the University of Utah

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared on UNews on August 20, 2013

An ongoing study shows the University of Utah’s move to the Pac-12 Conference in 2011 continues to generate substantial economic gain as well as improved perceptions of the U and the state.

According to the study, out-of-state football fans attending four Pac-12 football games at the U in 2012 spent an estimated $2.3 million on travel, food and lodging. Television revenues brought in an additional $8 million. Total revenues increased $1.8 million over the inaugural 2011 season, and are projected to support 275 jobs – generating earnings of $6.6 million and state tax revenue of approximately $660,000.

The number of out-of-state fans attending home games against Pac-12 opponents is double that for games played prior to joining the Pac-12 Conference. Although average per-game out-of-state ticket sales for home games in 2012 were lower than in 2011 – 1,056 in 2012 versus 1,272 for the 2011 – both years exceeded visitor ticket sales to home games in the Mountain West Conference, which averaged 546.

The study, which is being conducted over multiple years by the U’s Center for Public Policy & Administration and the Bureau of Business and Economic Research, also showed that the vast majority of visiting fans had a good experience during their stay. Of the fans polled, 87 percent said they were treated well or very well by Utah fans. Asked if their impressions of the university had changed during their visit, 43 percent said they had, and an impressive 98 percent of those say it changed for the better. Further, for those fans on their first visit to Utah, 62 percent said they were more likely to visit in the future because of their experience at the U.

“Since the U joined the Pac-12, more fans are visiting the state, spending more while they’re here and leaving with the idea of returning – that’s a win for the U and the state,” says Dianne Meppen, research associate at the Center who helped design and field the study for the 2012 season. “A bonus for the university is that nearly a quarter of those polled said they were more familiar with academics at the U than before.”

Other key findings

Television revenues account for nearly 78 percent of the total revenues and were significantly higher in 2012 than in 2011.

For the 2012 season, television revenues were estimated at $8 million, compared to $3 million in 2011. That compares to just $1.2 million under the Mountain West Conference in the 2010 season.  The U’s share of television revenues from Pac-12 play are expected to continue to grow in the coming seasons.

“Using football visitor spending and impressions as a key metric, the data continues to show positive benefits to the U from its move to the Pac-12,” Meppen concludes. “Further, the U’s share of television revenues provides an economic impact that was previously unachievable.”

About the survey

Opponents’ fans from outside the state of Utah were surveyed by trained interviewers prior to the four home games against Pac-12 opponents: University of Southern California, University of California at Berkeley, Washington State University and the University of Arizona. Target-intercept surveys were conducted at key spots at Rice-Eccles Stadium, in tailgate areas and on TRAX trains to the stadium. Only one person from each family or travel group participated. Inclement weather hampered data collection at some of the games. Information gathered included travel party size, number of days and nights spent in Utah, spending estimates and impressions of the University of Utah. Data collected were analyzed by the Bureau of Economic and Business Research at the U.


The Center for Public Policy & Administration at The University of Utah is home to vibrant education programs and top-quality research. The Center’s professional staff works with governments, nonprofits and businesses to examine and solve real-world problems. Coupled with extensive research, the Center’s two graduate degree programs – Masters of Public Policy and Masters of International Affairs and Global Enterprise – provide a stimulating intellectual environment to prepare students for a variety of positions in the public, private and nonprofit sectors. More about the Center is available online at


The Bureau of Economic and Business Research, or BEBR, is an applied research center in the David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah. BEBR interacts with both private and public entities, conducting independent studies and engage in sponsored research. Learn more about BEBR at

Proposed Tax Increase

Friday, June 21st, 2013

The Salt Lake City Council is considering a property tax increase as part of their 2013-14 budget. There has been very limited public discussion of this tax increase and Mayor Ralph Becker has indicated that he will veto the proposal. The Council is scheduled to vote on this issue next Tuesday, June 18, and at this point it seems likely to pass.

Currently, five members of the City Council have indicated that they will support the tax increase: Soren Simonsen, Jill Love, Luke Garrott, Charlie Luke and Kyle LaMalfa. Carlton Christensen and Stan Penfold oppose proposal. Once the Council passes the tax increase, and provided that they retain the votes necessary to override Mayor Becker’s veto, the Council will hold Truth in Taxation as required by State law.

We think it is important that you are aware of this discussion. It will have an impact on every property owner in Salt Lake City, but a disproportionate impact on business. We have expressed our concern to the City Council about the process for making this decision. We encourage them to engage in a more well-rounded and robust community dialogue before raising taxes.

Based on input from our local property owners and 2012 valuations, and given the complexity of the ever changing property values, the estimated additional property tax impact ranges from $631 for a small-business, such as Squatters, to $82,080 for the Wells Fargo Building.

In addition, Salt Lake City has a robustly growing sales tax base. The City realized a 7.6 percent growth in sales tax revenue compared to a state total of a 4.5 percent increase from Q4 in 2011 to Q4 in 2012. This 70 percent growth in sales tax calls the need for additional property taxes into question.

Additional information on the proposed tax increase can be found in these articles:

Salt Lake City poised to raise property taxes; Mayor Becker still opposed

Salt Lake City Council advances tax hike proposal despite threat of veto

Ralph Becker: Why S.L. shouldn’t adopt a property tax increase

Please let us know if you have concerns about this tax increase or the process for making this decision. If you are willing, please reach out to city officials to express those concerns.

District 1
Carlton Christensen -
801.535.7723Liaison: Brock Soper -

District 2
Kyle LaMalfa -
801.535.7781Liaison: Brian Fullmer -

District 3
Stan Penfold -
801.535.7726Liaison: Brock Soper -

District 4
Luke Garrott -
801.535.7782Liaison: Nick Tarbet -

District 5
Jill Remington Love -
801.535.7786Liaison: Amber McClellan-

District 6
Charlie Luke -
801.535.7784Liaison: Amber McClellan -

District 7
Søren Simonsen -
801.535.7715Liaison: Brian Fullmer -


This post was written by Jason Mathis,  Executive Vice President of the Chamber and the Downtown Alliance Executive Director. It originally appeared on the Utah Pulse

April 2013 export numbers surprisingly positive

Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

In the April 2013 Export report from World Trade Center Utah, the Beehive State saw more positive numbers than originally expected.

Despite dropping $31 million in exports from March to April, Utah is still giving a strong export showing. Total exports from Utah in April 2013 totaled more than $1.5 billion, which is quite a bit higher than last April’s total of $1.2 billion. This is the first month this year that came out ahead of its counterpart in 2012.

WTC Utah report noted that the Foreign Trade Division of the U.S. Census Bureau released revised final figures for 2012 that indicated a rise in Utah’s total from $19.11 billion to $19.25 billion.

“I wish it had stayed lower, because it’s going to take a lot of miracles to beat that this year,” said Lew Cramer, president and CEO of WTC Utah. “However, Utah does specialize in exporting miracles.”

Based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau, 60 percent of Utah’s exports were of primary metals in April, or approx. $922 million. There was some uncertainty surrounding primary metal export numbers because of the recent landslide at Kennecott, so the strong number was good news. It nearly matched the March 2013 figures for the industry, just shy of a $7 million difference.

What Utah saw a jump in exporting is transportation equipment (increase of 28 percent since April 2012) and computers and electronics (increase of 20.87 since April 2012). In April, the top five industries exporting from Utah include primary metals, computers and electronics, and chemicals.

Utah’s exports mostly head to Hong Kong, United Kingdom, China, Canada and Thailand. From April 2012 to April 2013, China saw the greatest jump in Utah exports from $174 million to $608 million (increase of 248 percent).

The number of positive revelations that came from the April 2013 Exports report are solid indicators that 2013 will continue Utah’s trend of being a strong and growing export state.

Shutting Ourselves Off From the Global Economy Won’t Protect American Jobs

Friday, May 31st, 2013

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on Free Enterprise

Those who think we can protect U.S. jobs by turning inward have got it exactly backwards. In fact, we must look beyond U.S. shores and pursue lucrative opportunities in world markets if we’re going to drive stronger growth at home, create more jobs for U.S. workers, and compete in a global economy.

Expanding our reach in the world will allow American businesses to grow. Five percent of global consumers live inside of the United States—the remaining 95% are spread out across the world. Foreign consumers represent 80% of the world’s buying power and 92% of economic growth. We need to go where the customers are.

Existing U.S. jobs and key industries depend on trade. Altogether, trade supports 38 million American jobs—more than one in five. One in three manufacturing jobs depends on exports, and for every three acres of American farmland, one is used to grow food that is exported to a growing, hungry global population.

U.S. small businesses are some of the strongest drivers of trade. More than 97% of the 293,000 U.S. companies that export their products are small and midsize outfits. While large companies account for a majority of exports, small and midsize businesses account for more than one-third of all U.S. merchandise exports.

Trade is also a two-way street. If we say ‘no thanks’ to global partners who wish to import goods and services to our markets, U.S. businesses and consumers will suffer. Imports mean lower prices and more choices for American families as they try to stretch their budgets and for companies seeking raw materials and other inputs. Access to imports boosts the purchasing power of the average American household by about $10,000 annually.

It’s true that the playing field for trade isn’t always level. Many countries slap tariffs on U.S. exports that are ten or twenty times higher than our own, and a web of other barriers often shut out U.S. goods and services. That’s why we must negotiate trade agreements to remove those obstacles. U.S. exports to new free trade agreement (FTA) partners have grown four times faster than U.S. exports globally in the years after they are implemented. The expansion in trade spurred by U.S. FTAs supports more than five million American jobs. And while they represent just 10% of global GDP, America’s 20 FTA partners buy nearly half of U.S. exports.

If we don’t engage in the world, we’ll get left in the dust while our global competitors do more business with each other. The world’s strongest and most dynamic economies are aggressively pursuing their own preferential trade deals. Nearly 100 free trade agreements are under negotiation worldwide. The United States has to be in the game so American workers, farmers, and companies can compete and win in the worldwide economy.

Finally, we must think globally in order to tackle our domestic unemployment crisis. Nearly 12 million Americans are unemployed. We estimate the United States will need to create 20 million jobs by the year 2020 to replace the jobs lost in the recession and to meet the needs of our growing workforce. Trade is one of the fastest, surest ways to meet that challenge.

The business community can play a role in expanding U.S. commerce around the world by pushing a number of trade priorities. We must throw our support behind new trade deals, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement in the booming Asia-Pacific region, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Pact with Europe, and a Trade in Services Agreement with nearly 50 countries. These and other opportunities would drive growth and job creation here at home. Global trade is not the problem, it’s the solution.

33 graduate from 10,000 Small Businesses, create 100+ jobs

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

Last week, the 33 small business owners graduated from Utah’s inaugural Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program cohort. The program, an overall $500 million investment, helps entrepreneurs create jobs and economic opportunity by providing them with greater access to education, financial capital and business support services.

The 33 graduates were selected out of a pool of 103 applicants to participate in the program on scholarship. Eleven sessions and more than one hundred hours of training from Salt Lake Community College (Goldman Sachs’ education partner in Utah) supported business growth by boosting operations and creating job opportunities.

“Goldman Sachs chose Salt Lake Community College because of our commitment to advance economic and workforce development,” SLCC President and CEO Dr. Cynthia Bioteau said in her Salt Lake Tribune op-ed. “The college’s first cohort of 33 companies has already created more than 80 new jobs — a remarkable accomplishment with just months of training.”

As it turns out, those numbers are actually even stronger. The business owners who participated in the 10,000 Small Businesses program created more than 100 jobs in the last five months. Those efforts boost other job creation goals including the Utah Jobs Agenda, a ten-point plan crafted by the Chamber to create 150,000 in five years, and Gov. Herbert’s plan to create 100,000 jobs in 1,000 days.

The graduates had nothing but glowing comments about the program, saying the best of the best were teaching and mentoring them, and that the resources and support they received were immensely helpful in furthering their business.

“The program helped me secure a line of credit to expand our business,” said Frank Dsouza, the owner of Seaich Corp., a Salt Lake City designer and importer of women’s accessories. He added three new employees to his business with help from 10,000 Small Businesses. “I needed financial resources, and the next thing I knew, I was in front of angel investors and bankers willing to do business with me. Growing up in India, I did not have an opportunity to further my education, so this was a dream come true,”

The businesses represented by the 10,000 Small Businesses participants covered a broad spectrum of industries, including manufacturing, transportation, design, retail, human services and more. Of the 33 businesses represented, 17 were women-owned making this the largest group of women that have participated in a single cohort since the program launched.

“Most of our large companies are not growing U.S. jobs, in fact many are doing the opposite,” wrote Jackie Zehner, CEO of Women Moving Millions, who attended the 10,000 Small Businesses graduation. “But the clouds parted on my gloomy view and the sun came out. Actually 33 suns came out. They were the smiling faces of the 33 graduates of the first cohort of the Salt Lake City 10,000 Small Business Program. In sharing their stories they gave me renewed hope that we can create jobs and grow our economy one business, one person at a time. Congratulations!”

If your business is past the start-up phase and ready to grow, now is the time to apply for the next cohort set to start this August. The application deadline is, Monday June 3. Learn more about applying at

Click here for the Salt Lake Tribune’s story on the 10,000 Small Businesses graduation.

Across the nation, more than 1,300 small business owners have participated in 10,000 Small Businesses program. Within six months of graduating, approximately 63 percent report increases in their revenues and 45 percent reported creating net new jobs in that same time frame.

With support of Governor Herbert, Goldman Sachs and the Goldman Sachs Foundation the program launched in Utah in July 2012. SLCC delivers the education portion of the program while capital is provided by Mountain West Small Business Finance. the State of Utah, Salt Lake Community College, Mountain West Small Business Finance, the Salt Lake Chamber, the Utah Hispanic Chamber, the Pete Suazo Business Center and the Utah Small Business Development Centers Network.

The program is currently operating in Chicago, Cleveland, Houston, Long Beach, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Philadelphia, New York and Salt Lake City and capital only states—Kentucky, Montana, Oregon, Tennessee and Washington

Enterprising States Are a Model for Growth

Thursday, May 16th, 2013

Last week the president kicked off a Jobs and Opportunity Tour in Austin, Texas—a city that’s flourishing because state and local leaders have cultivated a good business climate and helped nurture a booming high-tech industry.

The president is smart to step outside of Washington to see how enterprising states, like Texas, are driving stronger economic growth and job creation despite many antibusiness and antigrowth policies coming from the federal government. These states’ pro-growth policies are helping businesses succeed and people get back to work—and they are providing a good model for other state and national leaders on how to advance strong and competitive economies.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce just released its 4th annual Enterprising States study, which evaluates states’ policies in five areas essential to jobs and growth: exports and international trade, entrepreneurship and innovation, business climate, talent pipeline, and infrastructure.

We found the following common practices among economically thriving states:

Enterprising states create low-tax environments that attract businesses from around the country and enhance their competitiveness. They invest in infrastructure to keep people and commerce moving smoothly and efficiently. They encourage and reward innovation and welcome start-ups. They see the tremendous value of free trade and embrace it. They cultivate people through workforce development and strong schools. They keep regulations light and curb lawsuit abuse. They enable the private sector to responsibly develop energy resources. They take steps to attract and revitalize manufacturing. And their state leaders often work closely with local and regional economic development organizations to support entrepreneurship and business expansion.

States that are doing all or many of these things are more resilient and better able to compete in the national and global economies. They have recovered much faster from the recession than states that haven’t adopted pro-growth policies. And they are watching their state economies expand, their unemployment rates fall, opportunities rise for their residents, and prosperity spread more quickly across their cities and communities.

As the president maps out his ongoing Jobs and Opportunity Tour, he may find the Enterprising States study to be a useful guide. By visiting the states that are growing and prospering, he would get a firsthand look at what works. And he would quickly see that an agenda of higher taxes, heavier regulations, and unsustainable spending is exactly the wrong way to get more jobs and to create greater opportunity.

To see where each state ranks in jobs, economic growth, and competitiveness, visit


This article was written by Tom Donohue, President and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, for Free Enterprise