Natalie Gochnour: Utah state budget — ‘The Rest of the Story’

Thursday, October 9th, 2014

Natalie Gochnour, associate dean in the David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah and chief economist for the Salt Lake Chamber, addresses the Utah state budget in her article published on October 3, in the Deseret News:

Paul Harvey used to end many of his radio broadcasts with the tag line “and now you know the rest of the story.” It was a signal to listeners that every story has a story behind the story and only when you probe a little deeper do you capture the whole truth.

The same thing is occurring right now with the Utah state budget. There is a well-deserved but incomplete story about surpluses backed by a strong economy … and then there is the story behind the story. Utah lawmakers keep robbing Peter to pay Paul. Ultimately something will break.

Like a lot of idioms, the term “robbing Peter to pay Paul” has uncertain origins. I like the version that describes the act of taking money from St. Peter’s Cathedral in Westminster to pay for St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. Both cathedrals serve an important and valued service. By taking from one, you hurt the other, and yet both are important. Eventually you pay the price.

The same thing can be said about the Utah state budget. For over a decade the state has been cutting taxes, earmarking revenues and shifting funds to pay for critical state needs. It has worked great in the short term, but it is not a long-term strategy for success.

Here are the facts:

Tax cuts — Utah’s post-Olympic prosperity led to significant tax cuts. We reduced the sales tax on food and went to a flat 5 percent income tax. Together these changes reduced state revenues by approximately $400 million annually. Utah’s tax burden has now fallen from the 13th highest in 1999 to 32nd today.

Road building — Utah started an unprecedented and needed road-building campaign that included the I-15 core. We did so without raising the motor fuel tax, the primary and best user fee to pay for highway construction.

Lost purchasing power — Utah’s 24.5 cents-per-gallon motor fuel tax has lost approximately 45 percent of its purchasing power since 1997, the last time the Legislature raised this tax. Motor fuel tax is a per gallon tax and does not keep pace with the price level. Just to stay even the state must increase it regularly.

Earmarking — The Legislature began earmarking significant amounts of sales tax dollars to build roads. The earmarking of general fund money used to be frowned upon and avoided because it limited legislative flexibility. Now it is an accepted practice. General fund earmarks have grown from approximately $42 million in 2005 to $527 million today. Gov. Gary Herbert tried to reverse the trend by vetoing the last major earmark bill but was overridden by the Legislature.

Constitutional amendment — Utah voters passed a ballot measure that enabled legislators to use income tax dollars for higher education. This, combined with the use of sales tax earmarks for roads, started the complex practice of robbing Peter to pay Paul. In fiscal year 2015, the state spent $630 million from the education fund for higher education, $432 million in general fund for higher education, and $458 million in sales tax earmarks for transportation. The budget buckets have become completely co-mingled.

Significant need — Utah’s big three — education, transportation and water — all have significant needs. A growing economy requires investment in human and physical capital. As a high-growth state, Utah must provide Utah’s workforce with the skills of the 21st century and constantly maintain and invest in roads, pipelines and other infrastructure. It costs a lot of money to stay in front of the curve.

The president of the Utah Senate, Wayne Niederhauser, understands this dilemma and has been using his bully pulpit to force the difficult conversation. “The solutions are simple,” he says, “but they are politically charged.”

What are the solutions? I’m sure there are many worthy of consideration. We certainly need to be more innovative with the money we have. I also believe Utah should raise motor fuel taxes to recover lost purchasing power, increase water rates to help with water infrastructure needs, and consider a variety of ways to improve education funding.

Herbert and the Legislature deserve our praise for managing state finances so admirably during the Great Recession. Now we need to stop shifting monies and make the difficult decisions that lie ahead.

Now you’ve heard the rest of the story.

Public Policy – September Update

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

As the “Voice of Business” and Utah’s statewide Chamber, the Salt Lake Chamber leads out on critical issues that impact Utah businesses and our community. In the coming weeks, here is how we plan to “move the dial” to grow our economy, promote community prosperity and champion business in Utah, as well as ways for you to participate for the month of September and beyond.

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Public Policy 

The Policy Chairs meeting gathered to discuss legislative priorities and to plan the upcoming 2015 public policy guide. The Chamber’s intent remains to enhance major initiatives including economic development, infrastructure, environment and Utah’s workforce, thereby ensuring Utah’s has the premier business climate in the country.

The public policy guide serves as the platform for the business community’s priorities for the upcoming legislative session, desired action in Washington and other key community issues. You can find the 2014 Public Policy Guide here.

If you have any questions or comments, please reach out to Michael Merrill at (801) 328-5068 or

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Energy and Minerals: Fall Energy Trip (Oct. 21-22) 

The next meeting will be with the Natural Resources Business Council on October 8th from 7:30 to 9:00 a.m.

The Salt Lake Chamber and Utah Office of Energy are excited to announce the 2014 Fall Energy Excursion, October 21-22, 2014, to Utah’s coal country and southeastern energy producing counties. The one-night, two-day excursion builds upon the success of previous excursions to the Uinta Basin (Fall 2013) and Milford/Beaver (Spring 2014). Join us as we head south to explore, engage and learn in southeastern Utah. Register here.

The September task force meeting included an excellent presentation from Alan Westenskow from the Utah Economic Council and Zions Bank Public Finance on the energy economies of Uintah and Duchene counties, an update from Tammie Lucero from Uintah County Economic Development, the high-level details regarding our Fall Energy Excursion, and an update from the Office of Energy Development on their office including, recent new staff additions, partnering with Chamber on the aforementioned trip, a new electric vehicle website they will be rolling out in the near future, videos of energy jobs and opportunities and developing an economic impact for energy on Utah’s economy. We will have updates in the near future on the committee, including meeting dates and ways to participate.

If you have any questions or comments, please reach out to Michael Merrill at (801) 328-5068 or

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Prosperity 2020:

The U.S Chamber Foundation released the Leaders and Laggards report which ranks Utah in the middle of the pack. Of particular interest are Utah’s low scores in student proficiency and postsecondary and workforce readiness. Prosperity 2020 is actively engaged in improving education outcomes and building a better workforce.

A five-year plan has been drafted to take Utah to the top ten in education in the country. These policies have been outlined in detail in a plan being developed by Prosperity 2020 and Education First, with input from major education stakeholders throughout the state. We’d like your feedback on the draft. If your organization would like a presentation on the plan’s objectives, please contact us.

The plan will be rolled out at AcademicXL, a TED-style conference in Salt Lake City in October presenting innovative practices to make Utah a leader in education. Sponsorship opportunities are available.

Please contact Allyson Bell at or Jana Scott for information.

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Natural Resources Business Council:

Every other month, we meet as a group of four-task forces and then in the off months each task force meets independently. This not only drives unity, but helps the Chamber maximize its staff resources and alleviate conflicts and silos.

In addition to driving fidelity, the Council provides a unique venue for the Chamber to speak on stewardship and sustainability and position the business community as a leader on energy issues. The next Natural Resources business council will be on October 8th from 7:30 to 9:00 a.m. and will focus on natural resources principles.

If you have any questions or comments, please reach out to Michael Merrill at (801) 328-5068 or 

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Regulation: Solutions Summit a Success 

Thursday, August 21, 2014 8:00 AM – 2:00 PM

We partnered with Sen. Mike Lee, Gov. Gary Herbert, the Utah League of Cities and Towns, the Utah Association of Counties and over 200 attendees for the Utah Solutions Summit on Thursday, August 21, 2014  to discuss the vast and uncertain regulatory burden under which businesses are required to comply and develop solutions to move our economy forward.

The agenda included discussion with business leaders and government offi­cials about regulation compliance and the relationship between regulation and economic development. This event included featured keynote speakers U.S. Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Utah Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox.

If you have any other questions or comments regarding regulation solutions, please reach out to Justin Jones at (801) 558-9371 or

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Clean Air: 4th Annual Clean Air Summit Scheduled for Early December

Over the next few months the Clean Air Task Force will spend time identifying potential legislative issues that will help clean our air including Tier 3 Fuels and Vehicles, incentives for cleaner burning autos and the revised State Implementation Plan developed to bring Utah into compliance with federal air quality standards.  Additionally, the Task Force will begin work on the second Inversion Mitigation Effort, through which we encourage the business community to do what they can to reduce emissions during our winter inversion season.  The Task Force will also start developing an agenda for the 4th Annual Clean Air Summit scheduled for early December.

The Chamber is also pleased to announce that Chris Lee, President of Deseret Digital Media, has accepted the role of Chair of the Clean Air Task Force.  Chris takes over for Jonathan Johnson who led the task force for approximately four years.  We appreciate the many years of leadership Jonathan provided and look forward to having Chris help guide our clean air efforts.

If you have any questions or comments, please reach out to Ryan Evans at (801) 328-5063.

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Water: Water Task Force Spinning Up

The next water task force meeting will be held September 18th 2014. The Salt Lake Chamber’s first water task force will focus on best practices for business in water conservation and management. It will also look at current and future infrastructure needs. The Chamber launched its efforts in water last month with “Utah | Water Is Your Business” and will continue to meet in the coming months to address this critical issue for business.

If you have any questions or comments, please reach out to Michael Merrill at (801) 328-5068 or

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Outdoor Recreation & Tourism:

Working with Office of Outdoor Recreation and EDC Utah, we will host a series of discussions over the coming months to promote best practices, build partnerships and discuss issues facing the Outdoor Recreation and Tourism community.

If you have any questions or comments, please reach out to Jesse Dean at (801) 328-5045 or

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Utah Transportation Coalition: Unified Plan Needs a Unified Front to Fund Transportation

This past month Lane Beattie spoke before the Utah League of Cities and Towns Fall Conference concerning funding Utah’s transportation infrastructure, specifically the local roads in our cities and towns.

With Utah’s anticipated population growth, it’s important to maintain a quality transportation system that benefits the entire business community. The 2040 Unified Transportation plan is a comprehensive approach that provides the outcomes required to successfully support our communities. Additionally, the Coalition is working on a comprehensive communications plan with details to be released in the near future.

In addition, The Utah Transportation Coalition and Parsons Brinkerhoff will be hosting an Aerotroplis forum on October 16th to discuss the importance of the connection between Salt Lake City International Airport and Utah’s economy. The airport just recently broke ground on a 10-year terminal rebuild and released a report detailing the economic impact of the airport to Utah’s economy.

For more details visit or contact Michael Merrill at (801) 328-5068 or 

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Downtown Alliance: Downtown Still Rising

Construction continues at unprecedented levels in downtown Salt Lake City, pushing the urban center to new heights with the following signature projects well underway:

George and Dolores Eccles Theater On Main 

Construction for the $117 million project began in Spring 2014. This 2,500 seat, Broadway-style theater is expected to be completed by the summer of 2016 and will be designed to enhance the culture and economic vitality of the region by attracting first-run touring Broadway shows, as well as other national and local music, comedy and family entertainment acts.

111 South Main 

This Class A office development is currently under construction just north of the Eccles Theater on Main Street. The building will feature 440,452 sq. ft. of office space and be integrated with the Eccles Theater project in terms of functionality and design.

300 South Protected Bike Lanes

Salt Lake City Transportation began its protected bike lane project along 300 South between 300 West and 600 East in August with an estimated completion in October. These protected bike lanes are part of the city’s initiative to create low stress urban bikeways connecting neighborhoods to the heart of downtown and will be similar to bike lanes in other major cities like New York, San Francisco, Chicago and Minneapolis.

If you are interested in learning more about the Downtown Alliance’s initiatives or if you have any questions, please contact Jesse Dean, Director of Urban Development at

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Health System Reform: Meet the Candidates Breakfast and Governor’s Healthy Utah Plan

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary and the State of Utah have reached a conceptual deal regarding the Governor’s Healthy Utah Plan. As you know, the Governor has been working hard to close a gap in coverage for people who do not qualify for Medicaid and also fall under the coverage of health exchanges required by the Affordable Care Act. The Chamber has been working closely with the Utah Hospital Association, Chamber members and others to gather support for the Governor’s effort.

We will continue to be an avid supporter with other key partners in urging thoughtful leadership on this key priority. As an example, the Chamber’s Health System Reform task force chairs, Andrew Croshaw and Marc Bennett, did a great job lending the Chamber’s support by testifying to the Legislature’s Healthcare Reform Task Force, urging their support for the Governor’s plan. There will be more details to come in terms of the final agreement for a waiver, as well as next steps for Legislative approval here in Utah, but this update is good news. The Health System Reform Task Force will have a “Meet the Candidates” breakfast on September 25, in lieu of a task force meeting.

If you have any other questions or comments, please reach out to Justin Jones at (801) 558-9371 or

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International: Utah Global Forum

Utah Global Forum – Wednesday, Sept. 24, 2014

On September 24, 2014, Utah will host the first of its kind Global Forum. Topics will include Building a Global Brand; Doing Business in Europe, Mexico, Canada, and China; Shared Stories of Success from Utah Companies Abroad; Financing Your Global Expansion; and Global Operational Efficiency Through Sound Legal, Tax and Accounting Practices. The agenda for the event has been release and features a number of world-renowned business and trade experts. If you’re thinking about exporting, looking to invest in one of the fastest growing economies in the United States or seeking inspiration to take your business to the next level, you won’t want to miss out.

For questions regarding the Utah Global Forum please visit:

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Utah unemployment lowest since 2008

Monday, June 23rd, 2014

The numbers are in. Utah has the lowest unemployment rate it has seen since before the recession–3.6 percent. This is a 0.2 percent drop from April.

The Utah Department of Workforce Services (DWS) released the numbers for May on Friday. With a modest rise of 37,500 jobs from May of last year, Utah’s non-farm payroll employment grew by an estimated 2.9 percent. DWS reports that approximately 52,000 Utahns were unemployed and actively looking for a job last month. This is the kind of slow and steady improvement that proves Utah is doing something right.

“Strong economies don’t occur by accident,” said Natalie Gochnour, the Chamber’s chief economist and associate dean of the David Eccles School of Business. “Utah has a vibrant economy because Utah companies and the workers they employ create value. Elected officials have also helped by creating a business-minded environment with appropriate infrastructure investment and a reasonable tax and regulatory structure.”

“The advantage Utah has is its broad range of industries, many of which are performing well,” said Salt Lake Chamber president and CEO Lane Beattie. “It’s encouraging to see numbers like these come out and show that Utah is ahead of the curve, creating jobs, and proving itself as a great place to live and work with ample opportunity.”

DWS also reported growth in all 10 private sector industries groups, each posting net job increases. The largest increases were in trade, transportation and utilities (9,800), followed by construction (5,400) and even government (5,200). These numbers continue to show that Utah is showing steady and varied growth across all industries–something that the strength of our economy depends on.

On a national scale, the unemployment rate didn’t budge from 6.3 percent, further proving that Utah is performing well.

“While we have the third lowest unemployment rate and the fourth highest job growth rate of any state, it’s even more important that our growth is distributed across a broad spectrum of industries,” said Utah Gov. Gary Herbert.

“The goal is to have balanced, strong and consistent economic growth and that’s exactly what we have in Utah,” said Juliette Tennert, chief economist for the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget.

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 May 2014, Utah has created 103,000 jobs since November 2011, reaching this goal well ahead of schedule. The Chamber also has a complementary 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.

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.