How the 2014 General Session impacted business

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

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

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

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

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


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


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


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


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

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


Curiosity Unleashed is about more than great jobs

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

Editor’s note: Originally published on, written by Prosperity 2020 Chair Alan Hall. 

Last week in collaboration with the Governor, the STEM Action Center and others, STEM-related companies launched a series of videos about opportunity for Utah children and young adults in STEM fields.

A number of STEM jobs are among the highest paying jobs in Utah. The Utah Technology Council (UTC) created a list of “Hot STEM Occupations in Utah,” many of which are in growth areas. The annual median wage of occupations on the list of 50 occupations related to science, technology, engineering and math ranges from $43,000 for support positions to $187,000 in the medical field.

A number of positions on the list have annual median wages in the $70,000-$90,000 range, including such positions as: software developer, medical and health services manager, industrial engineer, electrical engineer, civil engineer, mechanical engineer, database administrator, physical therapist, occupational therapist, physician assistant, and mining engineer. Chemical engineers and petroleum engineers each fall around the $90,000 mark. Positions like computer and information systems managers can be even higher.

It’s one of my passions in life to help create good jobs that enable more people to make a good living and care for their families. STEM careers provide exceptional opportunities. One of our goals at Prosperity 2020 is to help Utah become a top-10 center for these kinds of jobs. It will lift our economy and it will lift our lives.

The business community has rallied around STEM education and expanding opportunities for young people. Our most recent contribution is a series of videos called Curiosity Unleashed.

As important as jobs are, Curiosity Unleashed is about more. It’s about discovery and wonder. It’s about realizing new possibilities, stretching minds, and expanding horizons. It’s about personal growth and the joy of learning and making things better. It’s about the mind, but also about the heart. It’s about fulfillment. It’s about loving to learn and the pull to learn more.

STEM careers allow people to make better life-saving devices, expand the human capacity to organize and create, enrich life, increase comfort, expand capacity, and simply make life better.

As business leaders behind Prosperity 2020, we believe life is about learning and experiencing the wonder of it all. And we believe in the remarkable kids in Utah.

Enjoy Curiosity Unleashed and share it with young people you know who might be a little curious about their futures.

The 2014 Public Policy Guide and business priorities released

Wednesday, January 8th, 2014

The Salt Lake Chamber released the business community’s priorities for the upcoming General Legislative Session within the 2014 Public Policy Guide. The Public Policy Guide was presented to the speaker of the House of Representatives Rebecca Lockhart and Senate President Wayne Niederhauser Wednesday morning. The guide outlines the Chamber’s position on policy issues including economic development, education, transportation, water, energy and minerals, clean air, outdoor recreation and tourism, Downtown Rising, immigration, international competitiveness, and small business.

“The 2014 Public Policy Guide is a Chamber publication, but it represents the broad-based support of chambers of commerce across the state as well as other important business associations,” said Lane Beattie, president and CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber. “These are the priorities of Utah’s diverse business sectors from across the state and it’s critical that we speak with one voice.”

View and download the 2014 Public Policy Guide PDF here.

Economic Development 
Economic development and job creation is the cornerstone priority for Utah’s business community. The 2014 Public Policy Guide highlights and supports the “Your Utah, Your Future” quality growth strategy, initiated by Gov. Gary Herbert and Envision Utah, in taking the long-term view on public policy issues. The guide also outlines priorities that will facilitate economic growth and strengthen the economy, including a continued stance against general tax increases not supported by the public, a commitment to eliminating harmful regulation and a collaborative challenge to enhance Utah’s competitiveness through attracting regional corporate headquarters to the state.

“Utah’s economy is extremely well-positioned for continued growth in 2014. The private-sector is set to accomplish the significant goal of creating 150,000 jobs since the recession–more than a year ahead of schedule,” said Natalie Gochnour, chief economist of the Salt Lake Chamber and associate dean of the University of Utah David Eccles School of Business. “However, Utah’s economy faces economic headwinds from our nation’s capital and risks economic hardship if we do not address our education system and transportation infrastructure.”

Prosperity 2020
An educated workforce has a direct correlation with economic prosperity and is a top priority for Utah’s business community. To be globally competitive, Utah must return to a top-10 state in overall education rankings. To meet this challenge, the Chamber outlines key priorities to improve: 4th grade reading scores; 8th grade math scores; high school completion and college and career readiness; innovative teaching in public education; and Utah’s ability to reach 66 percent of Utahns with postsecondary degrees or certificates.

“Investing in our children is the best investment we can make as a community,” said Alan Hall, Chair ofProsperity 2020, founder and co-managing director of Mercato Partners, and chairman of Marketstar. “Facing unprecedented growth, we need to ensure that the largest population of young people in the country will be deployed as the best educated workforce, propelling Utah to enduring prosperity.”

Prosperity 2020 and the business community, through school-business partnerships, can improve school environments and boost outcomes for students. In addition to advocacy, the Utah business community has developed partnerships that support our education system and improve outcomes. The guide highlights how businesses across the state are becoming directly involved in the educational success of Utah’s children through a myriad of partnerships, including tutoring students, volunteering in classrooms, sponsoring activities, advising programs of study, providing internships and funding scholarships.

“Utah’s business leaders understand the urgency of addressing our education challenges,” said Beattie. “As a strong backer of the Prosperity 2020 movement, we are very supportive of the priorities and commitment of the Legislature’s Education Taskforce and will work to make these policies a reality.”

Recent completions of major transportation initiatives have made Utah a national example in our commitment to disciplined planning and investment in transportation infrastructure. As one of the fastest growing states in the nation, continued investments are critical to economic growth and accommodating future generations of Utahns.

“Our community continues to rapidly grow,” said H. David Burton, co-chair of the Utah Transportation Coalition.  “We must act now to ensure future generations can enjoy economic prosperity and a high quality of life.”

The guide outlines support for a five-year action plan to fully fund Utah’s prioritized transportation needs identified in Utah’s 2040 Unified Transportation Plan. This action plan includes allowing local governments to address their urgent transportation challenges, investments to improve our transit system, and a call for the expansion and inflation-adjustment of user fees to meet critical needs.

“Investments in transportation infrastructure benefit every aspect of our economy,” said David Golden, co-chair of the Utah Transportation Coalition, and executive vice president and manager of Wells Fargo Commercial Banking Group’s Mountain Division. “The need for investment is critical and requires immediate action in order to sustain and enhance our world-class business and economic climate.”

Natural Resource Business Council
Utah’s spectacular natural environment is a legacy passed to us from preceding generations and is a key component of the state’s economy and high quality of life. The guide is the debut of the Chamber’s Natural Resource Business Council, which represents a comprehensive approach to the state’s natural environment and important sectors of Utah’s economy. The Chamber’s clean air and energy and minerals task forces, as well as two new Chamber initiatives in Water and Outdoor Recreation and Tourism, are organized under the Council.

“Utah’s natural resources provide Utah families with unparalleled life quality and economic opportunities,” said Senate President Wayne Niederhauser. “We owe future generations our best stewardship efforts to ensure they enjoy the same advantages we now enjoy.”

The Natural Resource Business Council priorities include developing a long-term vision on Utah’s water needs, enhancing rural economic development, improving transportation options to Utah’s energy rich Uinta Basin, supporting Utah’s tourism marketing and addressing air quality issues.

Specifically, the guide highlights the Chamber’s support for: the PM2.5 State Implementation Plan, increased transportation funding to improve our transit system and reduce idling on Utah’s roadways, cleaner vehicles, increased efforts for public awareness and research, and incentives to facilitate small businesses’ participation in emission reductions.

“Air quality for many Utahns’ is the state’s most pressing issue,” said Beattie. “Clean air makes good business sense and the Utah business community is committed to being a champion for improving our air quality.”

The 2014 Public Policy guide is available online at

Here are some photos from the event where we presented speaker of the House of Representatives Rebecca Lockhart and Senate President Wayne Niederhauser:

Education Summit promoting Prosperity 2020 & Business Promise

Friday, October 25th, 2013

This week, Ogden/Weber Chamber along with Partners in Education put on the Education Summit in Ogden. Prosperity 2020 chair Alan Hall, an Ogden native, keynoted the event, elaborating on the education movement’s goals for Utah and how we are working to achieve those goals. Hall expressed that he is very impressed by how involved the Weber and Ogden school districts have been in furthering the goals of Prosperity 2020.

One of the things Hall will be working towards is taking Prosperity 2020 to the next level by incorporating statewide action. The Standard Examiner reported:

Hall said he plans to visit every school district, university and trade school across the state to spread his message of the importance of education and how Utah can and should be rising to the top.

“In the 1960s we were third in the nation. Now we are somewhere in the middle. I think we can get back in the top 10,” Hall said of Utah’s education scores.

Ogden/Weber Chamber President and Business Promise chair Dave Hardman said that there has been an uptick in volunteers, but they still would like to see more.

Volunteerism is another key to Prosperity 2020′s goals for education in the state. The Prosperity 2020 Business Promise aims to have 20,200 volunteers in Utah schools by the year 2020. An ambitious goal, but one that can greatly increase positive educational outcomes.

You can read the Standard Examiner’s coverage of the event here:

About Prosperity 2020
The Prosperity 2020 movement, the largest business-led movement ever assembled in Utah to advance educational investment and innovation, is supported by 20 chambers of commerce across the state as well as multiple business associations and individual businesses. This robust group of business leaders has played a critical role in establishing three goals to be achieved by 2020:

·       66 percent of Utah adults with a postsecondary certificate or degree
·       90 percent of elementary students proficient in reading and mathematics
·       STEM Top Ten center for technology jobs and businesses

During the 2013 general legislative session, the Utah Legislature officially adopted the first two goals and formed a committee to chart a path toward meeting them. Prosperity 2020 will continue to play an active role in supporting the completion of these goals. Learn more by visiting

State grant to help fill needs in workforce

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

Utah business leaders know just how essential skilled workers are to the long-term strength of our state economy. They’ve come together to support the Prosperity 2020 movement in an effort to encourage more students to earn college degrees, particularly in the high-demand, high-compensation STEM jobs (those that require skills in science, technology, engineering and mathematics).

Today, the Utah Department of Workforce Services announced a new grant program to spur workforce alignment and economic growth, specifically in technology, manufacturing and health care.

Here’s the news release from DWS:

$1 million to fund Higher Ed Programs in High Demand

SALT LAKE CITY—Utah students and business owners with a focus on technology, manufacturing or healthcare will soon reap the benefits of a newly approved grant program that funds training for students in highly sought-after fields. $1 million was approved Tuesday to expand or create programs at higher educational institutions throughout the state. These programs range from IT, energy research and medical assisting to advanced machining and manufacturing .

“Business owners throughout Utah are clamoring for skilled workers, and this program helps train students in these growing fields,” said DWS Executive Director Jon Pierpont. “This newly approved grant money will fund vital high-tech learning programs that our students want and our businesses need.”

The grants are part of the Utah Cluster Acceleration Partnership project, known as UCAP, which was created to better align industry workforce needs with education programs. It is a partnership between the Department of Workforce Services, the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, and the Utah System of Higher Education. The money goes to expand or create programs in information technology, healthcare, energy and manufacturing, among others.

“As our state economy grows businesses are counting on the state to have a partnership in place that will train the workforce of tomorrow, “said Spencer Eccles, GOED executive director. “Today’s students need training that will insure our businesses have a workforce with the right skill sets and the UCAP program helps to meet that need.”

“Investing in education today builds the foundation for a strong economy tomorrow,” said Commissioner of Higher Education Dave Buhler. “We’re pleased to implement these programs and expansions to support Utah’s economic engine.”

The money comes from the Unemployment Insurance Job Growth Fund, and is available for programs to immediately access. For more information on the programs approved, see the attached summary.

Science: Learning through inquiry

Monday, October 14th, 2013

Ask most employers and they will tell you critical thinking is an important skill for job seekers to have.

While schools don’t have classes specifically called, “Critical Thinking,” there’s one topic that can open up student’s minds to thinking out of the box.

Science, in particular, challenges students to ask questions, gather information, deduce and explain a decision based on their experiments. Science encourages exploration, reflection and application of principles. Essentially, science is a machine requiring critical thinking to find new solutions.

A secure grasp of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education is important for students who want to succeed now and in the future. Many of the high-paying jobs of the 21st Century involve these subjects. Such positions help further the technology of the world, improving the quality of life for many, and lead those who do this kind of work into a prosperous future of their own.

That’s why Prosperity 2020 greatly encourages STEM education and shares a goal with the Utah Legislature to make Utah a top ten tech center. The key to a prosperous future for Utah and people in Utah starts with education.

The infographic, published by the Smithsonian Science Education Center, below goes into more detail about science education and what kind of a difference a STEM education can have.

Learning Science Through Inquiry

by TimothySanders.
Explore more infographics like this one on the web’s largest information design community – Visually.


STEM pilot program is underway

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013

Utah has one of the most diverse economies in the nation. More and more of the jobs we’re creating, and those we’ll create in the coming years, depend on a well-educated workforce, particularly in critical science, technology, engineering and math (or STEM) fields.

Earlier this month, 53 middle and high schools were selected to participate in the STEM technology pilot program this fall, as designated by HB 139 in the 2013 General Legislative session. Last week, 120 teachers from those schools were trained on the technologies approved for implementation this coming school year as part of the program.

The STEM Action Center, approved by the Utah Legislature this year, and the Salt Lake Center for Science Education gave the teachers a full day of training on eleven different technologies selected for the STEM pilot program. The technologies were selected by representatives and experts from the community, the Utah State Office of Education, the Utah System of Higher Education and private industry.

The STEM Action Center was established to help drive research and the implementation of the best STEM education practices across the state. The Utah State Legislature has invested $10 million into this initiative. To learn more, click here.

Business leaders supporting the Prosperity 2020 movement have set the goal to make Salt Lake a STEM Top Ten Center for technology jobs and businesses.

You can read more about this in an article on Utah Business week here.


An active role for business in education

Thursday, July 25th, 2013

Editor’s note: This post was authored by Tom Donohue, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and was originally published on the official blog of the U.S. Chamber, You can find the original post here. 

Cracks in the U.S. workforce suggest that our legacy of ever-expanding opportunity and advancement is under threat. Even as unemployment remains high, some 3 million U.S. jobs sit vacant because businesses can’t find qualified workers to fill them. And the current generation of students could be the first in our history to be less educated than their parents.

Fewer Americans are emerging from our public education system with sufficient skills in math, science, reading, communications, and critical thinking. Without that foundation, it’s harder for them to advance their education or careers in our modern economy. Consequently, the United States has fallen to 10th in the world in the percentage of young adults with a college degree—we used to be 1st.

Complicating matters, the jobs of the 21st century are becoming more specialized and technical, requiring more education, advanced training, and sophisticated skills. Approximately 90 percent of the jobs in the fastest-growing occupations require some postsecondary education and training. By 2020, there will be 120 million “high-skilled” and “high-wage” jobs.

To ensure a steady flow of American workers to fill those jobs, we must strengthen U.S. education and job training, aligning those systems with the needs of our economy.

U.S. businesses can and must play a role. The business community continues to advocate for policies that better prepare students to be college and career ready—such as Common Core State Standards—and supports an overhaul of current job training systems. Companies also invest heavily in education, contributing more than $4 billion a year. But we’ve largely left the job of educating our workforce to the educators. Business needs to take a more hands-on approach.

We’ve got to clearly articulate what we need: competitive workers who can write, reason, solve problems, and apply their learning and use their diplomas or degrees to contribute to our economy.

We must help students see a clear connection between their programs of study and tangible opportunities in the labor market. And we need to bring more American students into our businesses through internships and apprenticeships. “Work-linked” learning can enrich their education and help decide career paths.

The bottom line is that the education and competitiveness of our workers affect all of us. It determines the economic strength and global competitiveness of our country. So we’ve got to work together to make sure that we’re improving and investing in one of America’s greatest assets—the U.S. workforce. And if we do that, we’ll be able to protect the great American legacy of opportunity and advancement too.


Education impacts Utah’s business rankings

Wednesday, July 10th, 2013

A top five ranking among America’s best states for business is generally something to celebrate. Unless you’ve dropped from second place a year ago.

CNBC released its rankings today and Utah finds itself tied for fifth with Virginia; the commonwealth had claimed the top spot in the ranking three times since 2006. South Dakota claimed the top spot for 2013.

Business is tied to education
The Beehive State’s overall ranking was hurt by its 39th overall ranking in education. This is not a new issue to the business community; the warning signs are clear:

- We have a rapidly diversifying population that requires a new approach to education.
- We have lower test scores than states with similar ethnic/minority diversity, education levels of parents and student poverty levels.
- One out of every four high school freshman will not graduate.

All that comes as we rank 32nd  among states in public education spending per $1,000 of personal income.

We used to do more with less. Now we just do less.

On the same page
Utah’s secret sauce is our ability to work together to solve problems. Through the Prosperity 2020 movement, the business community, has called for greater innovation, investment, accountability and collaboration in education. Gov. Gary Herbert and the Utah Legislature have made education a priority by setting goals to have 66 percent of all Utah adults hold a college degree or skilled trade certificate, and for 90 percent of all elementary school students to be proficient in reading and mathematics by the end of the decade.

With the governor, the Legislature, educators and the business community driving toward the same, well-defined, challenging goals, we can make a significant improvement.

Silver lining
The good news is Utah still scored very high in business friendliness thanks to our regulatory environment and five percent corporate and individual tax rates.

We have rightfully touted ourselves as a great place to do business. We rank very high in many rankings like this. We’re still Forbes Magazine’s Best State for Business and Careers– a title we’ve held for three years in a row.

But just like the road to enduring prosperity, if we want to claim the title as the Top State for Business, it starts with education.

You can read the CNBC article here and find complete rankings here.


A business case for education reform

Friday, June 28th, 2013

The Salt Lake Chamber knows education is the key to enduring prosperity. We’ve joined nearly 20 other chambers of commerce and business associations as part of the Prosperity 2020 movement.

As the infographic below illustrates, the U.S. education system is failing to equip students with the skills required for the jobs of the 21st century. In some communities, however, local business leaders are leading the charge for outcomes-based reform.