Utah’s Economy Expected to Keep Humming in 2015

Thursday, October 30th, 2014

Download a PDF copy of the Fall 2014 Economic Outlook here.

Chamber and CBRE provide economic outlook

SALT LAKE CITY- (October 30, 2014) The Salt Lake Chamber and CBRE released the 2014 Salt Lake County Economic Outlook, moving forward in a dynamic global environment. This bi-annual report summarizes key factors, including international and national geo-political instability, labor market changes, and demographics shifts and their effect on the economic future of Utah’s most populous county and the state in general. The report also details business activity, commercial real estate and notable projects such as the Salt Lake International Airport terminal redevelopment project and its impact on Salt Lake County and the economy in the coming years.

“Today’s global environment changes quickly and various forecasters, investors, policymakers, businesses and consumers are on edge while trying to understand developments here and abroad,” said Natalie Gochnour, Chief Economist, Salt Lake Chamber and Associate Dean, David Eccles School of Business, University of Utah. “Utah’s economy is becoming more and more global and world events can—and do—impact us locally.”

Due to the complicated nature of today’s economy, this report details both sectors and issues relevant to the state and metro outlook. Topics explored include the labor market, demographics, Utah’s tech sector, general trade and commerce, notable development projects and commercial real estate markets. Examination of these topics will provide a greater understanding of today’s complex economic environment.

Dynamic Global Environment

The report features how global events far from the mountain west are affecting the economic well being of Salt Lake County and Utah in general. Utah is more connected to the world than ever before as international trade supports 356,000 jobs within the state, and the share of jobs tied to trade more than doubled over the last two decades. Slowing emerging markets, conflicts in Russia, Syria and throughout the Middle East, an increasingly assertive China, and changing demographics all influence markets, sentiment and economic activity – impacting a more global Utah.

“Globally, the economic picture remains complicated,” said Darin Mellott, Senior Research Analyst, CBRE. “Though Utah’s economic growth is outperforming the national economy and looks bright, further examination demonstrates a very complicated global economic environment.”

Labor Market

The labor market is a focal point of economic discussion in Utah. With an unemployment rate of 3.5%, Utah now lauds the second-lowest unemployment rate in the nation. This is especially impressive considering that statewide unemployment peaked at 8.4% in January 2010. While this certainly indicates a recovery, experts close to the issue remain cautious. Unemployment rates alone do not provide a complete picture of conditions and must be considered in the context of other employment figures—some of which raise concerns about Utah’s labor market.

Traditionally, low unemployment rates are indicative of markets at full employment. But even as Utah boasts a low rate, wage levels have been slow to rise. In Salt Lake County, nominal wage growth averaged 2.1% per year over the last five years—which is essentially flat in real terms—and similar trends can been seen at a state and national level. This suggests Utah remains below full employment despite its low unemployment rate. Such a seemingly contradictory condition raises questions about the condition of the labor force itself, its makeup and skill.“Adding to the complexity of the economy is Utah’s student debt, having increased by 58 percent since 2005,” said Joseph Farrell, Research Analyst, CBRE. “Utah had the fifth largest increase in student debt from 2005 to 2012. More than half of this increase can be traced back to tuition hikes. Though Utah’s average student loan debt is among the lowest in the nation, decreased parental and state contributions leave Utah more reliant on debt to finance their education.”

Business Activity

Despite the mixed labor outlook, Utah has outstripped nominal values of venture funding by high profile tech hubs such as California and Massachusetts. A recent CNBC poll put Utah in first place for access to capital. Utah County alone outperformed 39 other states in terms of venture capital per capita. Overall, Utah placed third behind California and Massachusetts.

Notable Projects

Several notable projects across the valley will provide significant impact to the local economy. Most notable among them is the redevelopment of the Salt Lake International Airport. The $1.8 billion dollar project will not be funded by taxes or public funds. Passenger fees, retail rents, bonds and airport usage fees charged to airlines will cover the tab.

“Indicative of Utah’s growing global connections, we as a community are choosing to invest in a world-class airport,” said, Gochnour. “Prudent financial management and thoughtful economic leadership are allowing a project of this magnitude to move forward without a single tax increase.”

Commercial Real Estate

The industrial market has experienced strong demand; over 2.5 million square feet of industrial space broke ground during the first three quarters of 2014, and large amounts of new supply are planned to enter the market in coming months. Availability continues to remain favorably low, ending the third quarter of 2014 at 8.4 percent.

Utah’s strong economy is supporting demand for commercial investment properties. Asset prices in Salt Lake are favorable relative to many larger metro areas, thus providing investors with higher returns compared to primary markets. Going forward investor activity is expected to remain strong with higher levels of market activity through the end of 2014.

To learn more about the 2014 Economic Outlook, visit http://slchamber.com.

About the Chamber

The Salt Lake Chamber is Utah’s largest business association and Utah’s business leader. A statewide chamber of commerce with members in all 29 Utah counties, the Chamber represents 7,700 businesses and approximately 500,000 Utah jobs—nearly half the workforce of our state. With roots that date back to 1887, the Chamber stands as the voice of business, supports its members’ success and champions community prosperity.

Public Policy – October Update

Monday, October 27th, 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Public Policy – October Update

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 October and beyond.

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Public Policy 

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. The Salt Lake Chamber will be working over the next few months with key partners, legislators and the Governor’s office to address Utah’s big three — education, transportation and water — which 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.

In addition, the Salt Lake Chamber’s executive board will be reviewing and approving the 2015 policy positions in the coming months. 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 mmerrill@slchamber.com.

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Energy and MineralsFall Energy Trip (Oct. 21-22) 

The next Energy Mineral Task Force meeting will be held November 12th from 8:00 to 9:00 a.m.

Last week the Salt Lake Chamber and Utah Office of Energy participated in the 2014 Fall Energy Excursion into Utah’s coal country and southeastern energy producing counties. The one-night, two-day excursion built on the success of previous excursions to the Uinta Basin (Fall 2013) and Milford/Beaver (Spring 2014). A report of this successful trip will be at the upcoming Task Force meeting.

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

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Prosperity 2020

On Tuesday, October 28, Prosperity 2020 and Education First will announce a 5-year plan to take Utah’s education to the top ten by 2020. The plan is the result of collaboration over the past few years with education stakeholders and will serve as a starting point for a long-term state plan to improve education outcomes in Utah.

Key drivers of performance have been identified in discussions at the Governor’s Commission on Educational Excellence, the Legislative Education Task Force chaired by Senate and House leadership, Legislative education committees, in focus groups with superintendents, principals, teachers and others, and elsewhere.

The plan will be announced publicly at the AcademicXL conference to a select group of 300 leaders in education, government, businesses and parents. Details will be shared through social media throughout the morning.

Review the plan and sign up to support education by following prosperity2020.com. Tune in on October 28, 8:30 a.m. to noon to follow the discussion.

Please contact Allyson Bell at abell@slchamber.com or Jana Scott jscott@prosperity2020.com for information.

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Natural Resources Business Council

The Natural Resource Business Council represents an inclusive approach to multiple sectors of Utah’s economy. The Council is the guiding body for the water, energy and minerals, and outdoor recreation and tourism task forces.

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.

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

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

The Next Clean Air Task Force meeting will be held November 4th.

This month the Clean Air Task Force met with the Natural Resources Business Council to discuss Envision Utah’s Clean Air Action Team Policy recommendations. The recommendations include actions related to Tier 3 fuels and vehicles, addressing wood burning, investing in public and active transportation, adopting a rule to require supplies to sell only ultra-low NOx water heaters and adjusting new building codes to promote energy efficiency. The Chamber is currently in support of several recommendations, but is not endorsing or adopting all the recommendations at this time. In addition, the Clean Air Task Force heard from Representative Becky Edwards to discuss legislation regarding the state’s air quality regulatory powers. 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 continue to develop an agenda for the 4th Annual Clean Air Summit scheduled for December 4, 2014.

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

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Water: Water Task Force

The next Water Task Force meeting will be held November 20th.

Natalie Gochnour, Associate Dean in the David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah and chief economist for the Salt Lake Chamber, spoke at the Utah Water Law Conference about the future of Utah. The conference included keynote speakers Tage Flint, CEO of Weber Basin Water Conservancy District and Warren H. Peterson Vice President of Farmland Reserve. Water conservation remains a critical issue for the state. As we enter the 2015 legislative session it is important to make water a continual priority.

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

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Outdoor Recreation & Tourism

The Outdoor Recreation Office has been working on new policy initiatives. The first concerns HB 133, which established priorities for opening and maintaining Utah’s national monuments, national forests and national recreation areas during fiscal emergencies. The second initiative is to advocate new legislation to fund backcountry rescues. New legislation would establish a secondary source of funding for the existing search and rescue programs. Additonally, a voluntary search and rescue card could be purchased by individuals or families. Utah has suffered heavy financial burdens from search and rescue assignments and the SAR cards would provide an insurance against costs of rescue within the state. Colorado and New Hampshire have implemented similar programs. It is important to continue to promote best practices to help overcome issues within the outdoor recreation industry.

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

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

The Utah Transportation Coalition will be holding their next executive committee meeting on November 13th.

Later this fall the Utah Transportation Coalition will be unveiling their public education campaign to communicate the value of transportation in local business communities. Last week the Utah Transportation Coalition hosted a roundtable discussion with former New York City Transportation Commissioner, Janette Sadik-Kahn, at the Salt Lake City Chamber. We’re excited to announce that the Utah Transportation Coalition Chairman, David R. Golden, was invited to speak at a Colorado Transportation Summit at request of the Colorado Department of Transportation. In addition, H. David Burton has stepped down as co-chair of the Utah Transportation Coalition because of his recent appointment as Chair of Utah Transit Authority; we deeply appreciate H. David Burton’s leadership and contributions to the coalition during his role as chair.

For more details visit www.utahtransportation.org or contact Michael Merrill at (801) 328-5068 or mmerrill@slchamber.com. 

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Downtown Alliance: Downtown Still Rising

Downtown property owners met with Salt Lake City planning staff to discuss the Downtown Master Plan after it received a favorable recommendation for the Salt Lake City Planning Commission. The Master Plan is intended to be a 25-year vision and implementation plan that will guide future growth and development downtown. Property owners voiced several concerns to the city over the regulatory nature of some of the visioning principle,s as well as the lack of a cohesive economic development strategy that will help to define downtown’s future as the regional center for culture, commerce and entertainment. The plan and its subsequent recommendations from the business community, are set to be reviewed before being adopted by the Salt Lake City Council in November.

For more information on the Downtown Master Plan, please visit downtownplanslc.com. If you are interested in learning more please contact Director of Urban Development, Jesse Dean, at jesse@downtownslc.org.

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Health System Reform 

The next Health System Reform Task Force meeting will be held November 20th.

The Health System Reform Task Force hosted a casual breakfast discussion with 4th District Congressional Candidates Mia Love (R) and Doug Owens (D). Both candidates addressed their views on implementation of the Affordable Care Act, Immigration Reform Efforts, Federal Transportation Efforts and Federal Regulations. Expect more updates from the Task Force in the upcoming weeks. In the most recent meeting, the Health Systems Reform Task force addressed Governor Herbert’s Healthy Utah report. The Governor has decided to not call a special session for the plan, and instead wait for the legislature to address it in the upcoming 2015 session. An article about the Governor’s plan can be seen here.

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

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International: Utah Global Forum

World Trade Center Utah is hosting Rural Utah International Business Forum on November 3rd from 11:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. in Vernal. The Forum will discuss opportunities for rural businesses to participate in the global economy and the process for international expansion and exporting. Registration is free, but is limited to 90 attendees. Register online here.

For questions regarding the Utah Global Forum please visit: http://www.utahglobalforum.com/.

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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: http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865612299/Utah-state-budget-2-the-rest-of-the-story.html.

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 mmerrill@slchamber.com.

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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 mmerrill@slchamber.com.

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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 abell@slchamber.com or Jana Scott jscott@prosperity2020.com 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 mmerrill@slchamber.com. 

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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 jjones@slchamber.com.

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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 mmerrill@slchamber.com.

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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  jesse@downtownslc.org.

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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 www.utahtransportation.org or contact Michael Merrill at (801) 328-5068 or mmerrill@slchamber.com. 

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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 jesse@downtownslc.org.

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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 jjones@slchamber.com.

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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: http://www.utahglobalforum.com/.

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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:

STRENGTHENED COMMITMENT TO EDUCATION

•  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

ENHANCED COMMUNITY AND ECONOMIC PROSPERITY

• 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

ACTED TO IMPROVE AIR QUALITY

• 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

ESTABLISHED PLATFORM FOR FUTURE ACTION

• 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: http://utahbusiness.com/articles/view/going_to_pot

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 slcc10skb.com.

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 slcc10skb.com.

* – 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.

ABOUT THE CENTER FOR PUBLIC POLICY & ADMINISTRATION

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 http://cppa.utah.edu.

ABOUT THE BUREAU OF ECONOMIC AND BUSINESS RESEARCH

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 www.bebr.utah.edu.