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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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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Public Policy – August Update

Thursday, August 14th, 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 August and beyond.

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Public Policy

We are excited to announce that Michael Merrill has been promoted to Director of Public Policy for the Salt Lake Chamber. Michael will continue to focus and enhance the Chamber’s major initiatives, including economic development, infrastructure, the environment, Utah’s workforce and ensuring Utah’s premier business climate.

Additionally, Jesse Dean has been promoted to Director of Urban Development for the Downtown Alliance, focusing on economic development and urban policies in Salt Lake City’s downtown.

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Prosperity 2020

Prosperity 2020 is actively engaged in ensuring that our state has a world-class workforce and supporting education in our state. This includes recently speaking out in favor of extending the No Child Left Behind waiver.

In addition to these efforts, Prosperity 2020is looking to share how businesses are engaged in supporting education. Please take five minutes to complete this short survey to provide insight for the policymakers and others who ask what industry is saying about education’s impact on their companies.

If you have any questions or comments, please reach out to Allyson Bell at 801-328-5076 or abell@prosperity2020.com.

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Natural Resources Business Council: August meeting focused on public lands initiative

Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2014 | 7:30 – 9:00 AM

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, clean air, and outdoor recreation and tourism task forces.

This month’s meeting will focus on updates from the Chamber’s efforts in these areas, as well as an update from Rep. Rob Bishop on the Public Lands Initiative.

If you have any questions or comments, please reach out to Michael Merrill at 801.558.5068 or mmerrill@slchamber.com.

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Regulation: Chamber partnering on Utah Solutions Summit regarding regulation

Thursday, Aug.21, 2014 | 8:00 AM – 2:00 PM

We are partnering with Sen. Mike Lee, Gov. Gary Herbert, the Utah League of Cities and Towns, and the Utah Association of Counties 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 includes discussions with business leaders and government offi­cials about regulation compliance as well as the relationship between regulation and economic development. 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, please reach out to Justin Jones at 801.558.9371 or jjones@slchamber.com.

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Clean Air: 6th Annual Clear the Air Challenge another success

We all have a role in keeping our air clean and the 2014 Clear the Air Challenge was another great success exhibiting Utahns and Utah businesses’ willingness to drive smarter and drive less. More than 6,800 participants eliminated over 140,000 single-occupancy vehicles trips, averting more than 2 million miles traveled.

The winners of this year’s challenge will be announced on August 16 at 9:00 a.m. at the Downtown Farmers Market at Pioneer Park on the main stage. If you have any questions or comments, please reach out to Ryan Evans at 801.328.5063.

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Water: Chamber announces new effort to address Utah’s water challenges

As part of the “Utah | Water Is Your Business” week, the Salt Lake Chamber announced a co-chair for the newly launched water committee: Rob Moore, president of Big-D Construction. The Chamber water committee will focus on best practices for business in water conservation and management, and will also look at current and future infrastructure needs. To learn more, please visit “Utah | Water Is Your Business.” You can also follow the discussion on Twitter with the hashtag #UTbiz4H2O.

We will have updates in the very 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 801.558.5068 or mmerrill@slchamber.com.

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Utah Transportation Coalition: Mountain transportation and Aerotroplis

Save the Date – Aerotroplis Guest Speaker – Thursday, Oct. 16, 2014

This past month Utah Transportation Coalition and Mountain Accord hosted business and community leaders to discuss the future of transportation in Utah’s Central Wasatch. Mountain transportation is one of the key transportation objectives for Utah’s business community because of its possible impact on our economy, quality of life, and opportunities to strengthen and enhance our natural environment.

The Salt Lake Chamber and Utah Transportation Coalition support these efforts to explore transportation options in the Wasatch Mountains that increase accessibility, are a net-positive for the environment, encourage transit, enhance Utah’s global brand, and pass a rigorous environmental and local process. For more information about the Mountain Accord Process, please visit www.mountainaccord.com.

Addtionally, the Utah Transportation Coalition and Parsons Brinkerhoff will be hosting an Aerotroplis forum on October 16 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.

For more details, visit www.utahtransportation.org or contact Michael Merrill at 801.558.5068 or mmerrill@slchamber.com.

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Energy: 2014 Uintah Basin Energy Summit

Thursday, Sept. 4, 2014 – Vernal

Utah’s rich and diverse energy sector is one key reason behind our state’s thriving economy. This September key stakeholders will gather in one of Utah’s richest energy regions. The Uintah Basin Energy Summit is a complement to the Governor’s Energy Summit that focuses directly on economic growth and energy development in the Uintah Basin. The summit will be in held in Vernal, Utah, on September 4, 2014.

This region is extremely important to Utah’s broader business community. Most recently, the Utah State Chamber, the coordinating entity for chambers of commerce throughout Utah, held its annual summer meeting in the Uintah Basin. If you have any questions or comments, please reach out to Michael Merrill at 801.558-5068 or mmerrill@slchamber.com.

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Outdoor Recreation and Tourism: 2014 Summer Outdoor Retailer and Economic Club of Utah

Outdoor recreation and tourism represent robust business sectors that benefit both urban and rural Utah. We view efforts to enhance these industries as vital to economic development. This past month we held an industry focus group and will continue to engage Utah’s outdoor products and services companies.

As part of that effort, the Salt Lake Chamber visited the 2014 Summer Outdoor Retailer show and connected with key industry leaders. Additionally, the Chamber is supporting the Economic Club of Utah’s Summer Meeting, which is focusing on Utah’s outdoor economy.

We are also excited about our continued partnership with the Utah Office of Outdoor Recreation and Office of Tourism, Global Branding and Film as we look to grow these industries.

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Downtown Alliance: Downtown still rising

In July 2014, the Downtown Alliance released the “2014 State of Downtown Economic Benchmark Report” from 2013 through first quarter 2014. This report tells a story of a constantly evolving and improving regional center for culture, commerce and entertainment. Economic activity and tax revenues continue to recover from the Great Recession of 2007-2009, with retail sales reaching over $800 million in eating, drinking, clothing department and other downtown retail categories. Over the last year, dozens of new office buildings, residential developments, hotels, theaters and public structures either broke ground or opened within 1.08 square mile Central Business District. For more information and a full copy of this report, please click here.

Looking forward to 2014-2015, there are several opportunities for improvement within the Central Business District. The Downtown Alliance will focus on policies and programs that impact the following areas:

- Redevelopment in downtown’s burgeoning entrepreneurial and transit-oriented neighborhood, the Depot District.
- Nightlife economy and creating a dynamic and diverse downtown that is welcoming to locals and visitors alike.
- Continued residential development to create a 24/7 urban center welcome to all ages, backgrounds and income levels.
- Development-friendly codes and zoning in order to remain a regional competitor for urban infill.

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

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Health System Reform: Governor’s Healthy Utah Plan

Health System Reform Task Force meeting – Thursday, Aug.28, 2014

We are actively engaged in a number of issues in regards to health care and the business community. This includes the discussions around the Governor’s Healthy Utah Plan, the continued implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“PPACA”) and its impact on businesses, as well as directly engaging Utah’s employers as the largest payer in health care spending.

The Health System Reform Task Force will be meeting on August 28. 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 released 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 on this forum.

For questions regarding the Utah Global Forum, please visit www.utahglobalforum.com.

 

GREENbike doubles in size in 16 months

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014

Since launching last April, GREENbike, Salt Lake City’s bike share, program has grown by 100 percent–to 20 downtown stations with 160 active bikes in less than 16 months. In addition to the eight new stations installed this July, six existing stations are being expanded to accommodate demand.

GREENbike’s 2014 capital expansion is being funded through grants from the Wasatch Front Regional Council, Salt Lake City Redevelopment Agency, Utah Department of Transportation and the Utah Clean Air Partnership.

In 2013, 6,100 people rode 65 GREENbikes 26,000 times, preventing over 54,000 miles from being driven. Each GREENbike averaged 400 trips during the program’s eight-month season. GREENbike launched in April of 2013 with 10 bike share stations and 55 active bikes.

“The Wasatch Front Regional Council is a proud GREENbike Strategic Partner,” said Andrew Gruber, Executive Director of the Wasatch Front Regional Council. “The program furthers our region’s goals to provide individuals with a variety of transportation choices, connect people with their destinations, and improve our community’s quality of life.” ”

GREENbike has received an unprecedented amount of private sector support for a program of its size, which is what allows GREENbike to offer unlimited 30-60 minute trips to annual members for only $75 a year, $15 for 4-Days or $5 for 24-Hours.

“The Redevelopment Agency of Salt Lake City believes in the value that GREENbike creates in our capital city,” said Stan Penfold, Chair of the SLC Redevelopment Agency. “Bike share expansion means there’s even more non-motorized travel options for citizens, which not only helps better our air quality, but I believe helps build a healthier, more connected, and socially-invested community. We’re thrilled about the program’s success, and hope to see more stations and GREENbikes in the years to come.”

GREENbike’s Title Sponsor & 2014 Basket Sponsor is SelectHealth, Helmet Sponsor is LDS Hospital and Annual Membership Card Sponsor is AT&T. Fifteen of GREENbike’s 20 bike share stations are sponsored by private organizations such as Key Bank, Backcountry.com, Harmons, Rocky Mountain Power, Radisson and Fidelity Investments.

New Station Sponsors Include:
- Sheraton Hotel
- Utah Clean Air Partnership (UCAIR)
- Salt Palace Convention Center
- Utah Office of Tourism, Film & Global Branding, Governor’s Office of Economic Development
- Telephone & Telegraph LLC
- Wasatch Property Management

Public Policy – July Update

Tuesday, July 1st, 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.

Public Policy

The Salt Lake Chamber has named Rich Walje, President and CEO of Rocky Mountain Power as Public Policy Chair starting July 1, 2014. The Policy Chair is an Executive Board member which guides the Chamber’s various public policy initiatives and acts as a liaison with the Executive Board on policy.

“The Salt Lake Chamber fills an essential role in our community as the voice of business on public policy issues. Apart from narrowly-focused industry associations, the Chamber gives a voice to broad-based business issues in the community and on the Hill,” said Walje.

Additionally, Chris Gamvroulas, President Ivory Development and Ivory Homes, was also named Vice Chair, Public Policy. Walje has set an aggressive agenda for the coming year for improving the chamber’s efforts in public policy and strengthening influence on key policy issues.

The Executive Board is the only policy body of the Salt Lake Chamber responsible for the Chamber’s commercial, industrial, public, legislative and financial policies. The Executive Board consists of members of the Board of Governors and the Downtown Alliance Board of Trustees. All of the Chamber’s extensive policy task forces and committees are advisory to the Executive Board through the Public Policy Chair.

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Clean Air

We all have a role in keeping our air clean. Businesses, citizens and government share our roads and breathe the same air. We should all do our part clean our air and the Clear the Air Challenge is perfect opportunity to show that you care about air quality! This statewide Challenge begins on Tuesday, July 1, 2014.

1. Remember, it’s all about driving smarter and driving less. Find out how your company and employees can participate at www.cleartheairchallenge.org.

If you have any other questions, concerns or comments about the Clear the Air Challenge, feel free to reach out to Ben Hoyle at 801.328.5056 or bhoyle@slchamber.com.

Also – our next Clean Air Task Force meeting will be Wednesday, August 13, at 7:30-9:00 a.m. with the Chamber’s Natural Resources Business Council. For more information about the task force, please contact Ryan Evans at 801.328.5063 or revans@slchamber.com.

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Capitol Club

“The Salt Lake Chamber Capitol Club gives business professionals unrivaled access to Utah’s leaders,” said Dan Harbeke, director public affairs of Union Pacific Railroad. “If you are interested in an inside look to how policy in Utah works, I’d encourage you to join.”

The Capitol Club provides the opportunity to gain professional development in public policy, public affairs and  especially for those interested in the policy issues affecting Utah’s business community. The next Capitol Club event will be Monday, July 16, with the newly appointed executive director of the Utah Technology and Research Initiative (USTAR), Ivy Estabrooke.

If you are interested in participating in Capitol Club contact Michael Merrill at 801-328.5068 or mmerrill@slchamber.com.

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Regulation

We advocate for simplified and reasonable regulation as well as predictable and certain laws, so rational people can be confident in deploying resources into a productive economy. To that end we are partnering with Sen. Lee, Gov. Gary Herbert, the Utah League of Cities and Towns, and the Utah Association of Counties 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.

We will have more information about the Solutions Summit, including sponsorship opportunities, in the coming days. If you have any other questions, concerns or comments, feel free to reach out to Justin Jones at 801.558-9371 or jjones@slchamber.com.

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Water

We invite you to join business and community leaders to discuss the importance of water infrastructure and the impact of water availability on our economy, business environment and economic development efforts, as well as how Utah businesses are making a difference with “Utah: Water is Your Business Week,” which will take place the week of August 4 – 8, 2014. This will include a number of items including the launch of Chamber’s Water Task Force.

We are looking for great stories about how your business is practicing water management and conservation. We invite you to join in sponsoring this great event. For more information and to share your company’s water stories, please contact Michael Merrill at 801-328.5068 or mmerrill@slchamber.com.

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Prosperity 2020

The Salt Lake Chamber has partnered with chambers of commerce and business associations from all over Utah in a movement called Prosperity 2020 to strengthen our economy by improving education. Prosperity 2020 is currently working towards an Education Forum later this fall as well as working closely with the Legislature’s Education Task Force. The next Prosperity 2020 Founders Council meeting is Monday, August 25 at 1:00-2:30 p.m.

To become involved in Prosperity 2020, please contact Jana Scott at 801-328-5043 or jscott@prosperity2020.com.

Additionally, the Prosperity 2020 Business Promise seeks to deploy 20,200 volunteers into Utah’s school system. If your business is interested in taking a more active role to support education, please contact Julie Johnsson at 801.328.5082 or jjohnsson@slchamber.com.

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Utah Transportation Coalition

On June 23, the Utah Transportation Coalition held the 2014 Open House with terrific presentations from UDOT Executive Director Carlos Braceras, Utah Transit Authority General Manager Michael Allegra, and House Transportation Committee Chair and Interim Transportation Committee Co-Chair Rep. Johnny Anderson. The event is just one of dozens the Utah Transportation Coalition hosts every year to promote continued investment in Utah’s transportation infrastructure. These events are reserved or significantly discounted for Coalition members and include an upcoming Mountain Transportation event that we will have more details on in the coming weeks.

The Coalition is currently looking for new members to collaborate with our partners to make smart and sustainable transportation choices and to secure adequate, stable and long-term funding to support a high quality of life and economic growth in Utah.

If your company is interested in participating, contact Michael Merrill at 801-328.5068 or mmerrill@slchamber.com.

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Natural Resources Business Council

Our Natural Resources Business Council (Council) is an inclusive approach to multiple sectors of Utah’s economy including the Chamber’s Water, Clean Air, Energy and Minerals, and Outdoor Recreation and Tourism Task Forces. This past month the Council heard presentations on the nexus between transportation and the NRBC, as well as the possibility of developing a Chamber corporate sustainability report.

The next Council meeting will be on Wednesday, August 13 at 7:30-9:00 a.m. For more information, please contact Michael Merrill at 801-328.5068 or mmerrill@slchamber.com.

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Outdoor Recreation and Tourism

The Salt Lake Chamber held its first Outdoor Recreation and Tourism meeting on June 5 with an industry focus group to better understand the needs of this critical asset to Utah’s economy. The groups discussed challenges with regulation, coordination with our economic development partners and perceptual issues faced by Utah’s tourism industry. We want to thank all of our participants.

The Chamber will be working closely with the Utah Office of Outdoor Recreation, Office of Tourism Global Branding on a number of events in the coming months and establish an ongoing task force. If you would like to participate in future events, please contact Michael Merrill at 801-328.5068 or mmerrill@slchamber.com.

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Energy and Minerals

Utah’s rich and diverse energy sector is one key reason behind our state’s thriving economy and the third annual Utah Governor’s Energy Development Summit on June 3-4, 2014, honored that contribution by setting the stage for the sector to continue to power our state’s economy. The Salt Lake Chamber welcomed the opportunity to support the summit. Read more about the summit.

To build on the summit, the Energy and Minerals Task Force meeting on Wednesday, July 9 at 8:00 a.m. will receive a briefing on the Utah Energy Efficiency and Conservation Plan from the Office of Energy Development and a presentation on clean energy technology start-ups. For more information, please contact Michael Merrill at 801-328.5068 or mmerrill@slchamber.com.

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Health System Reform

The Salt Lake Chamber in collaboration the Utah Hospital Association, American Cancer Association, AARP of Utah, Voices for Utah Children and Utah Health Policy Project sponsored a phone and email survey to better understand the public’s sentiment of the Governor’s “Healthy Utah Plan.”

A poll of 623 registered voters in May and June by Dan Jones & Associates found:

• 88 percent favor Herbert’s “Healthy Utah” plan over doing nothing.
• 70 percent prefer Herbert’s plan to a straightforward Medicaid expansion as envisioned by the Affordable Care Act.
• 59 percent say they support or strongly support Herbert’s plan.

The Health System Reform Task Force received a briefing on this polling data at our June 26 meeting and you can read about the results here.

The next Health System Reform task force will be Thursday, August 28, at 8:00 a.m. If you would like to participate in future Health System Reform events, please contact Justin Jones at 801.328.5071 or jjones@slchamber.com.

 

Downtown Alliance

Join the Downtown Alliance on Friday, July 11, for the 2014 State of Downtown, which celebrates our evolving urban center. Downtown is in the midst of a remarkable transformation with new residents, businesses and buildings shaping our urban fabric. This event will highlight these dramatic changes and forecast our future.

Also at the 2014 State of Downtown, the Downtown Alliance will be releasing the 2013 Economic Benchmark Report for downtown Salt Lake City, which presents facts about the downtown economy to stakeholders, property owners, tenants, investors, developers, retailers, brokers, theaters, museums, policy makers and civic leaders. You can read the 2012 report here.

If you would like to participate in future Downtown Alliance events, please contact Jesse Dean at 801-328.5045 or jesse@downtownslc.org.

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International – World Trade Center

Derek Miller, former chief of staff to Utah Gov. Gary R. Herbert, has been named president and CEO of the World Trade Center Utah, a licensed and certified member of the World Trade Centers Association, which is headquartered in New York City.

The World Trade Center Utah is strategic partner of the Salt Lake Chamber and you can read more about Derek’s appointment here.

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.

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. Visit wtcutah.com.

Clear the Air Challenge aims high for 2014

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

The 6th Annual Clear the Air Challenge is starting again in Utah this July—with goals to take it further than any year prior and new tools to help make it possible. The Clear the Air Challenge will take place July 1 – 31, 2014.

“We’ve had big successes in the past, but we can and will strengthen our efforts this year,” said Jonathan Johnson, Chairman of the Board of Overstock.com. “During the month-long Clear the Air Challenge, we encourage Utahns to drive less and drive smarter to reduce vehicle emissions and collectively improve Utah’s air quality. Each trip saved makes a difference to the quality of our air.”

The Clear the Air Challenge goals for this year aim to:
• Eliminate 250,000 vehicle trips (up from the 176,000 trips eliminated last year)
• Save 2 million vehicle miles driven (up from the 1.9 million miles saved last year)
• Engage 10,000 participants (up from the 8,400 participants last year)

Over the past five years, Clear the Air Challenge participants have saved more than 7.1 million vehicle miles traveled, saving more than nine million pounds of emissions and eliminating more than 600,000 car trips. We encourage people and businesses throughout Utah to take the Challenge this summer to increase those numbers even further, to make an even bigger difference in Utah’s overall air quality.

Thanks to a partnership with UDOT TravelWise and a grant from UCAIR, the Challenge invested in new tracking technology this year that makes logging your trips saved faster and easier—from your mobile device or computer. There is a built-in trip planner as part of the new tracker. Anyone can enter in a starting and ending location and receive carpool options, transit routes, or biking and walking routes. The new tracker gives the amount of emissions you’ll save and the time it will take to make your trip. The new tracker also integrates with social media and participants can, for example, share a trip saved on Facebook. Through this new tool, the Challenge hopes more people who don’t typically use transit or carpool programs see other options to get to their destinations. The new tracker can be found at ClearTheAirChallenge.org.

To encourage people to use transit, Utah Transit Authority is giving away 4,500 RideClear passes during the month randomly via Twitter.  Additionally, the Challenge has also established a partnership with Enterprise CarShare whereby they will provide Challenge participants usage of their cars in July.

By participating in the Challenge and tracking your miles saved, participants are eligible for great prizes from Clear the Air Challenge sponsors, from bikes, skis, clothing, gift cards and much more.

“The Clear the Air Challenge is the perfect opportunity for people in SLC, Ogden, Logan, Provo, Moab, St. George—everywhere,” said Amanda Smith, Executive Director, Utah Department of Environmental Quality. “We all need to think about how we travel and how it impacts the air we breathe.”

The Clear the Air Challenge is an excellent time to try new ways of transportation – from your daily commute to family errands. Our communities are changing quickly making alternative transportation easier and faster. These small personal actions add up to cleaner air for everyone.

You can sign up for the Clear the Air Challenge, join a team and start tracking your miles saved at www.cleartheairchallenge.org.

A big thank you goes to the sponsors of the Clear the Air Challenge for making it possible this year: Salt Lake Chamber, TravelWise, UCAIR, Fidelity Investments, Penna Power Brian Hayes, RioTinto, Overstock.com, UTA, Zions Bank and Enterprise CarShare.

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

 

UCAIR launches the Clean Air Assist Program

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

Clean air is a problem that everyone can address. Now there’s a little more help for small businesses to make a difference in Utah’s air quality.

The Department of Workforce Services (DWS), the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and the Utah Clean Air Partnership (UCAIR) have partnered to provide grants to small businesses to upgrade their current equipment to emission reducing equipment and improve air quality.

Small businesses can be awarded grants between $500 and $15,000. This grant program is available for businesses with less than 100 employees that are located in Box Elder, Cache, Davis, Duchesne, Salt Lake, Tooele, Uintah, Utah and Weber Counties.

Application Process:

Go to the UCAIR website www.ucair.org for information about UCAIR and the Air Assist Program application information. For questions about the program and individual help with the application process, please contact Gwen Springmeyer at 801.536.4218 or gwen@ucair.org.

There is no application deadline and no fees will be charged for the application.

Save a Drive: Cut down on driving and clear the air

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

Clean air is something that the Salt Lake Chamber is a big supporter of. Air quality greatly affects our health, quality of life and our state’s economy. We must all do our part to ensure Utah’s air can stay clear.

One new effort by Deseret Management Corp. (DMC) this month is called “Save a Drive”, in which a  $100 winner will be picked daily from online readers who pledge to cut down on the miles they drive until the end of February. Readers of www.ksl.com and www.deseretnews.com, both part of DMC, can pledge to “Save A Drive” and will be entered in a daily drawing for $100 throughout the month of February.

“We live here and breathe the same air as our audience,” said Chris Lee, president of Deseret Digital Media, part of DMC. “Our employees and our management all feel that we should do everything we can to build awareness and encourage solutions to this problem.”

The Deseret News print edition is also embracing the initiative by including tips on how readers can improve air quality at the top of their front page on inversion days.

“We’ll also let readers know the forecast health level for the day and explain that readers can go online to make their reduced-driving pledges,” said Dave Schneider, Deseret News assistant managing editor.

“We have learned more than half of of the pollution problems are caused by tailpipes on cars,” Lee said. “By saving a drive, each of us can help improve the air quality and if each of us will do a little a little bit, that will help a lot.”

“We do a lot of awareness building through our reporting in print, radio, television and online,” Lee said. “But this campaign is solution driven. We know this won’t solve the problem, but we are trying to stir solutions from the community. The creativity of how people save the drive is up to them.”

Lee said the digital campaign is the first by the corporation to link action with a monetary reward.

To combat the inversions this year, the Salt Lake Chamber implemented an Emergency Inversion Initiative to get businesses to take their efforts to the next level. We support and applaud our members to take steps to encourage their employees as well as the public to drive less, drive smarter and also implement more clean air practices in general.

 

OP-ED: Give Utah cities power to increase transit funding

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

Editor’s note: This op-ed was written by A. Scott Anderson, CEO and president of Zions Bank, and published in the Deseret News here

Air quality is one of the biggest issues facing the 2014 legislative session. “Red Air” days damage our health and keep sensitive people from enjoying the outdoors. Poor air quality is also hurting Utah’s economic development and tourism.

Many groups, including the Salt Lake Chamber, are working to improve air quality, and progress is being made. The Legislature could take another significant step forward by giving local governments an important tool to help clean the air along the Wasatch Front. It is one of the simplest, yet highly effective, things lawmakers could do for clean air in this session.

The Legislature should lift the cap on local-option sales tax funding for public transit and transportation, giving local governments, and ultimately voters, an important tool they need to combat dirty air.

Many citizens and local leaders would like to expand transit services in their communities, making it more convenient and frequent, thus taking cars off roads and improving air quality. But some counties are at the limit of what they can ask voters to approve for public transit, so they need the Legislature to lift the cap. Any additional funding would require approval by voters in an election.

In providing this critical tool, the Legislature would not be increasing taxes, or even authorizing a vote on taxes. They would simply be giving local leaders — and voters — some flexibility in combating dirty air. Local leaders, along with citizens, could decide if air quality and mobility are important enough to ask voters if they wish to increase sales tax funding for public transit. It would be entirely optional, and voters would have the final say.

We know that 57 percent of air pollution during inversions is emitted from vehicles. Less driving means better air quality. We know that increased use of public transit can make a real difference. Here are some facts:

· Transit currently takes more than 120,000 cars off Wasatch Front roads daily, the equivalent of more than 850,000 vehicle miles traveled (VMT) eliminated daily, netting about 1,500 tons of emissions eliminated annually.

· If Wasatch Front residents used transit instead of driving the equivalent of just one day per week for work and college trips, weekday ridership would triple, taking another 240,000 cars off the roads each day, saving 10 million VMT daily and reducing vehicle emissions by 3,000 tons annually.

· Across the entire Wasatch Front, transit accounts for about 5 percent (90,000) of total daily work and college trips. For every 1 percent increase, 16,000 new transit trips would be added, 14,000 vehicles would be removed from the roads each day, with more than 103,000 VMT eliminated daily and about 88 tons of emissions reduced annually.

If the Legislature lifts the cap, and citizens decide they want more public transit, then cities, counties, and Wasatch Front planning organizations are well-prepared to direct the Utah Transit Authority to use additional funding in ways that will significantly improve transit convenience and frequency, increasing ridership and helping improve air quality.

Improvements can come quickly. Studies and experience in other markets show that when buses come by more frequently, with more stops in more neighborhoods, with fewer required transfers, ridership increases significantly.

But increased transit frequency and convenience will require more investment. Most Wasatch Front peer regions (Denver, Dallas, Houston, Austin) fund their transit systems at the sales tax equivalent of a penny per dollar. Wasatch Front counties currently vary between 1/2 and 5/8 of a penny. If public transit was funded at a full cent, as recommended in the state’s Unified Transportation Plan, UTA could quickly increase service of existing bus and train lines, double ridership within a few years, and increase transit access for more than 275,000 additional households. Many high-use routes would see service every 10 to 15 minutes.

I’m not suggesting the Legislature raise taxes or even authorize a vote for more taxes. That would be left entirely to local governments and voters. Lifting the cap would provide this important tool to local governments. In the interest of improved air quality and mobility, I encourage lawmakers to do so.