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.”

Transportation
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 www.slchamber.com/PPG2014.

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

Chamber applauds SLC-UTA programs to increase transit ridership

Friday, October 4th, 2013

This morning, the Salt Lake Chamber took part in a news conference to announce a program to help Salt Lake City residents take advantage of transit opportunities. The program would increase the number of riders, provide reduced fare and have an impact in several important policy areas to strengthen our economy.

Chamber Executive Vice President Marty Carpenter told reporters there are two things the business community appreciates: when a great deal comes together so everyone wins and maximization of the return on an investment.

He says this agreement between SLC and UTA will further increase already strong ridership and will help more SLC residents utilize a world class transportation system.

As for maximizing ROI… that usually makes people think of the bottom line dollar amount–the profit. But that’s not always the case. The return on our investment in our transit system is greater than that, touching transportation (relieving pressure on our roads), energy (reducing our energy consumption), air quality (fewer tailpipes means cleaner air), economic development (preserving our natural beauty that attracts top talent and businesses from around the country) all while improving our health, to help contain the cost of health care.

It’s a winning deal for everyone.

The Chamber applauds Mayor Becker for his leadership and UTA for constantly finding new ways to run the nation’s best transit authority.

Here’s the official news release from the Mayor’s Office.

Mayor Proposes New Residential Transit Pass Program to Address Air Quality

SALT LAKE CITY – On Friday, Oct. 4, Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker announced a fresh solution to help improve air quality – a new type of transit pass that may soon be available to Salt Lake City residents, helping minimize the number of car trips that contribute to poor air conditions.

Mayor Becker proposed an innovative partnership with Utah Transit Authority to offer the new transit pass option. Under the plan, Salt Lake City residents would be eligible to purchase a one-year transit pass for $360. Residents could pay all at once or in 12 installments of $30/month, charged to their utility bill. This would be the first pass to be offered to municipal residents as a group, although the plan is modeled after similar bulk pass programs offered by UTA.

The purpose of the pass is to incentivize use of mass transit and improve air quality. Studies show residents are more likely to utilize mass transit when they are pass-holders. The pass would be good for UTA’s regular bus, TRAX and FrontRunner services. In just six round trips per month, residents could break even on their investment. There would be no limit on the number of passes purchased per household.

Mayor Becker was joined for the announcement by Councilman Stan Penfold, the City Council sponsor of the proposal; Utah Transit Authority General Manager Michael Allegra; Breathe Utah Executive Director Erin Mendenhall; Salt Lake Chamber Executive Vice President of Communication Marty Carpenter and other community leaders. Attendees lauded the program as an important step toward creating sustainable solutions to Salt Lake City’s air quality challenges.

The residential pass is proposed as a one-year pilot program and, if approved by the City Council, is expected to launch in early 2014. UTA expects that up to 6,000 passes could be sold.

 

Utah’s Uinta Basin driving economic growth

Monday, July 22nd, 2013

While over 90 percent of Utah’s population lives and works along the Wasatch Front, many of the state’s assets are well outside that region. From the natural wonders of southern Utah, to Utah State University and our farming communities to the north – the economic vitality of our state is inherently interconnected.

That interconnectivity between eastern Utah and the Wasatch Front is becoming more significant and stronger as an energy renaissance is taking place.

This increased interconnectivity can be seen throughout the Wasatch Front. Our major local refineries have invested millions of dollars to upgrade their facilities to improve air quality and process larger amounts of product. A quality workforce in the trades is now higher in demand. And our research universities are becoming pioneers in energy innovation.

Development in the Basin
The Uinta Basin, which is home to roughly 33,000 Utahns, has a long history of energy development. The recent developments and innovations in the energy industry are powering a vibrant regional economy with an unemployment rate well below four percent and a booming 30 percent increase in the region’s population in past decade.

The economic growth of the Uinta Basin is projected to increase in coming decades. As this growth continues to expand, the region attracts investors and innovators from across the world.

Connecting energy to the market
Major infrastructure and development projects that will strengthen the Utah’s economy have come online and continue to be planned, including a new refinery in Emery County to process crude oil from the Uinta Basin. However, without support, this region’s vibrancy could be lost. A recent UDOT study found that if there are not significant improvements to the energy transportation infrastructure, billions of dollars in resource development will be lost to Utah’s economy.

“Incredible things are happening right in our own backyard to power our first-in-the-nation job growth,” said Lane Beattie, president and CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber. “It is vital that Utah’s business community understands firsthand the unique opportunities and challenges that drive that growth.”

This past month Lt. Gov. Greg Bell joined a select group of business and thought leaders see first hand the remarkable growth and potential of the energy-rich Uinta Basin firsthand. The trip, organized by the Salt Lake Chamber, was a two-day excursion on June 27-28 through the region. In addition to visiting the live production sites, the group gained insights and perspective from experts and community leaders on how the region is working diligently to understand and address air quality challenges, promote responsible environmental stewardship, resolve and facilitate productive lands agreements, and focus on sustained economic growth through tailored higher education.

Responsible energy development benefits
The Salt Lake Chamber envisions an environmentally responsible and innovative energy industry that is a pillar to Utah’s economic strength, which is supported by a responsive regulatory climate. This industry will be a global leader in energy technology as it strengthens Utah’s economy through an abundance of affordable energy that enhances Utah’s competitive advantages. It will provide tens of thousands of jobs and billions in tax revenue, help support a well-funded education system, and support the development of a diversified economy. The Uinta Basin and its industry are making this vision a reality.

Chamber Tackles Air Quality Issues, Saving Local Businesses Millions

Wednesday, May 15th, 2013

While clean energy progress remains slow at the national level, the Salt Lake Chamber has emerged as one of the top local chambers in the country driving economic development around clean energy, according to a first-of-its-kind report released today by Chambers for Innovation and Clean Energy (CICE).

With ten in-depth case studies of chambers located throughout the country, Local Chambers as Change Agents: Creating Economic Vitality through Clean Energy and Innovation provides the first comprehensive look into the role of the Salt Lake Chamber and other local chambers in attracting investment, supporting business growth and diversifying their local economies around clean energy and energy efficiency.

“Businesses look at our air quality as a major factor in deciding whether to relocate to the Salt Lake region,” said Lane Beattie, president and CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber. “By working with local businesses to reduce their fuel use or use cleaner fuels, the Salt Lake Chamber is helping to strengthen our economy and keep Salt Lake City competitive. The Salt Lake Chamber is proud to be recognized as a national leader in clean energy-related economic development.”

As highlighted in the new report, the Salt Lake Chamber founded the Clean Air Champions program in 2012, seeking to proactively address the impact of poor air quality on economic development along the Wasatch Front. Through its innovative program, the Chamber shares best practices and educates businesses on converting fleets to cleaner fuels, planning more efficient routes and using teleworking to cut fuel costs. The Chamber also recognizes companies that cut their fuel use—contributing to cleaner air—through its website and radio coverage.

Companies participating in the Clean Air Champions program include:

UPS, which has saved more than 10 million gallons of fuel since 2004 with smarter vehicle-route planning
Rio Tinto, a global mining company that operates in Utah and saves an average of $1.65 million per year with its no-idling policy for trucks
- Architectural Nexus, which has seen its travel expenses drop by nearly $72,000 annually after implementing a new video conferencing system in place of travel

“Our Clean Air Champions program shows fuel savings have a significant bottom-line benefit,” said Ryan Evans, vice president of business and community relations for the Salt Lake Chamber. “The program has helped establish the Chamber as a leader in addressing air quality challenges and has attracted many statewide partners to help convey they importance of clean air for Utah’s economy.”

“The Salt Lake Chamber’s Clean Air Champions program is improving the economic well-being and quality of life in Salt Lake City,” said Diane Doucette, executive director of Chambers for Innovation and Clean Energy. “Other local chambers can benefit by following the Salt Lake Chamber’s model of educating businesses on easy cost and fuel-saving techniques, and celebrating business champions that participate in the program.”

Based on surveys of hundreds of local chambers of commerce, CICE’s report highlights 10 chambers in Ohio, North Carolina, South Carolina, Illinois, Texas, Utah, Tennessee, Michigan, Massachusetts and California. By catalyzing clean energy projects in their own communities and convening stakeholders— including policymakers, regulators, entrepreneurs, investors, academics and labor groups—around clean energy efforts, these chambers are spurring new business opportunities for local companies and giving their member businesses a voice in policy discussions around clean energy and energy efficiency.

CICE’s report, Local Chambers as Change Agents, is available here. 

Chambers for Innovation and Clean Energy (CICE) is a national Clean Energy network and Information Hub for local chambers of commerce. Created and led by local chambers, CICE helps fellow chambers and their member companies successfully navigate and prosper in the clean energy space. CICE provides access to clean energy information, best practices, energy experts, incentives, and business opportunities. CICE’s Advisory Council includes Chamber CEOs from every region of the country. Visit CICE at www.chambersforinnovation.com.

Energy powers Utah economy, can boost US

Tuesday, May 14th, 2013

“If budget negotiators have to rely on just two buckets—spending and taxes—to control the huge deficits we’re facing, they can’t get there. We need a third bucket—and we’ve got it in energy. And it’s fuller and deeper than anyone imagined just a few years ago.”

Tom Donohue, U.S. Chamber President and CEO

As you can see in the graphic above, energy is a big part of the Utah economy–especially when you zero in on that $1.5 billion in total wages figure. Energy has the potential to be a driving force in the  Utah economy for decades to come.

The U.S. Chamber is leading the way on energy production by calling on the president and Congress to include it as an option to help the United States resolve its long-term budget problems. The Salt Lake Chamber supports policies that encourage and facilitate appropriate energy production in Utah and nationally.

A new study commissioned by the U.S. Chamber found that in the unconventional oil and natural gas development energy sector 1.3 million new jobs can be created by 2020 and an additional 1.8 million jobs by 2035. This economic activity will generate $2.5 trillion in tax revenue by 2035.

At the end of April, Questar Corp. CEO Ron Jibson, who is the incoming chair of the Salt Lake Chamber Board of Governors and chairman of the American Gas Association, was interviewed by Bloomberg TV. He discusses some of the big issues facing the energy sector today–particularly natural gas.

 

Practical steps to cleaner air

Tuesday, March 12th, 2013

Editor’s note: this post was originally published as an op-ed in the Deseret News, Sunday, March 10, 2013. You can find the original post here.  It is co-authored by Jonathan Johnson, acting CEO at Overstock.com and chair of the Salt Lake Chamber Clean Air Task Force, and Jeff Edwards, president and CEO of the Economic Development Corporation of Utah.

Already in 2013, Utah has logged more than two-dozen red air days. With extended inversions trapping pollutants in our valley, Utahns have declared it is time to do something.

In addition to the adverse impact on public health, poor air quality endangers Utah’s federal highway funding, increases the risk of greater regulatory burdens and impairs economic development and corporate recruitment efforts.

Overall emissions in Salt Lake City are not that different from other Western cities our size, but because of our unique geography and meteorology, pollutants can’t escape into the atmosphere as they do elsewhere.  We all play a part in polluting the air to some extent and enhancing our air quality will require a collective effort—including some smart public policy.

We must encourage the behaviors that will protect the unsurpassed natural beauty of our state. We should drive less. We should drive cleaner. And businesses should continue to make clean air a priority. Clean air makes good business sense and the business community is determined to be a significant part of the solution.

Overstock.com incentivizes employees to participate in a carpool program, providing as much as $80 per month and preferred parking spaces to carpoolers. It also encourages carpools by listing carpoolers on the company intranet by geographical location so employees can find groups close to where they live. Overstock.com is just one of many great examples of businesses making Utah’s air quality a top priority.

Public policy should also continue to play an important role in preserving and enhancing our air quality. Over the past two decades Utah has increased capacity on our interstate highways, greatly reducing congestion and keeping cars from idling on our freeways. Later this year, UTA will complete a multi-year effort to add 70 miles of rail over a seven-year period. These investments in our mobility infrastructure play a significant role in our clean air efforts.

There is still more we can do. We support Senate Bill 275, sponsored by Senate Majority Whip Stuart Adams. This bill facilitates fleet conversions to cleaner-burning compressed natural gas (CNG) throughout the state, improves and increases CNG refueling infrastructure and provides critical maintenance facilities.

Today there are 2,757 school buses throughout the state: 2,659 run on diesel and 37 run on gasoline.  Only 69 run on CNG. Considering each diesel school bus is the equivalent of 36 cars on the road, a determined effort to convert every bus—school buses and public transit buses—as well as heavy vehicles in the state fleet to CNG is a practical and pragmatic step that will greatly benefit our air quality.

Simple math makes this even more attractive. Today diesel fuel is $3.89 per gallon while CNG is $1.49 per gallon equivalent. Bus fleets that run on CNG will not only pollute less, they’ll cost less. Making CNG more readily available to the public also makes it sensible and financially rewarding for more of us to drive CNG-fueled vehicles.

Increasing the availability of CNG fueling stations is a win-win-win for Utah. Our state has an abundant supply of natural gas. Using more of it to fuel our vehicles and commerce reduces our dependence on foreign oil, improves our air quality and makes our state an even more attractive location for businesses and top talent looking for a place to do business.

# # #

Jonathan Johnson is the chair of the Salt Lake Chamber Clean Air Task Force and acting CEO of Overstock.com.

 

 


Jeff Edwards is the CEO of the Economic Development Corporation of Utah.

Utah Economic Council on Utah’s future

Thursday, January 24th, 2013

When it comes to the state economy, Utahns have every reason to be optimistic. That was the consensus of a group of the state’s top economists during a panel discussion this morning at the Annual Utah Economic Review.

Utah is currently home to the second fastest growing economy in the nation, coming in behind only North Dakota, a state riding high on the wave of an energy boom. By comparison, Utah’s success is more evenly distributed across a variety of industries. In the past 12 months, the state has created 360,000 jobs and the unemployment rate stands at 5.2 percent (eighth lowest in the country).

While Utah’s economy is growing, the continued sluggishness of the national economy is cause for concern.

“They are simply putting patches on things, and not solving problems. They are focusing on special interests,” says Alan Westenskow of Zions Public Finance. “Those in Washington are not being honest with long term expense and how things will get fixed.”

Education
Emeritus Wells Fargo Economist Kelley Matthews says another significant threat to Utah’s economy is declining rates of educational attainment. He says education is a crucial part of maintaining a prosperous economy. Having the talented labor force that a postsecondary education can provide should not only be maintained, but also expanded. The business community and governor have both set the goal of having 66 percent of adults attaining a postsecondary degree or trade certificate by the year 2020.

“We need to be thinking about long term,” says Steve Kroes of Utah Foundation.”We shouldn’t think of education as something we spend money on. We need to think about what we spend or invest in education not as a cost, but as fiscal prudence. That will be the gem that keeps Utah competitive.”

“The importance is on whether we are going to maintain the quality and productivity of that labor force going forward,” Matthews says. “Our educational attainment is dropping dramatically. We’re not going to be able to stay on this path [of growth] and retain the productivity and educational abilities that we’ve traditionally had. We simply cannot stay the way that we are or we will have a less-educated workforce, and that will immediately affect productivity.”

Energy
The economists also affirmed that Utah’s energy sector needs to be a balance to avoid what is called the “boom-bust cycle.”

“Energy development is absolutely a part of economic development,” says Juliette Tennert of the Governor’s Office of Planning and  Budget. “We are well positioned, we have a competitive advantage, and that produces high-paying jobs and business in Utah, which keeps us competitive because of low prices.”

For Utah’s future, the panel agreed we should look further down the road, beyond 2013.

“We should challenge ourselves and our companies by thinking ahead,” says Natalie Gochnour, chief economist at the Salt Lake Chamber. ”Who’s focusing on 2020? 2030? That’s what we need.”

CLICK HERE for the Economic Outlook 2013 PDF released by the Governor’s Office.

2013 Public Policy Guide outlines business community’s priorities

Monday, January 14th, 2013

(L to R) Wesley Smith, general counsel, Salt Lake Chamber; Lane Beattie, president and CEO, Salt Lake Chamber; Becky Lockhart, Speaker of the Utah House of Representatives; Clark Ivory, CEO, Ivory Homes

With the 2013 General Legislative Session just two weeks away, the Salt Lake Chamber presented the business community’s legislative agenda this morning to legislative leadership.

You can read the official news release here. 

The 2013 Public Policy Guide outlines the business community’s position on issues including economic development, education, transportation, health reform, energy, clean air, immigration, Downtown Rising and international business.

Though it is a Salt Lake Chamber publication, the 2013 Public Policy Guide represents the broad-based support of chambers of commerce across the state as well as the other important business associations. As Utah’s largest and longest-serving statewide business association, we stand as the voice of business in our state. Our policies are well thought out and designed to strengthen the Utah economy today and over the long term.

A year of decisions to propel the Utah economy

Friday, January 20th, 2012

Editor’s note: This post contains prepared remarks from the news conference presenting the 2012 Public Policy Guide.

Lane Beattie:

2012 can be—and we believe it will be—a remarkable year for our state.

In just a few months, downtown Salt Lake City will celebrate the opening of the City Creek Center. Our transformation from fortress malls to a vibrant, pedestrian-friendly, urban center will be complete.

Our commitment to public transit will continue to pay off as we open two new TRAX lines, one to Draper and one to the Salt Lake City International Airport.

The I-15-CORE project, the largest state funded public works project in our state history, will also be completed this year—much to the pleasure of the residents of Utah County.

2012 will mark a new beginning for the Salt Lake City International Airport. When it is complete, we will better be able to welcome visitors from the world to our state.

We will welcome some 55,000 new Utahns to the world, as our state continues to be one of the fastest growing in the nation.

2012 also marks the tenth anniversary of the 2002 Winter Olympic Games—perhaps the greatest event in our state’s long and rich history.

This year the Salt Lake Chamber will also celebrate its 125th anniversary.

Most importantly, in 2012, we also begin our second full year of economic growth since the Great Recession.

Today we release our 2012 Public Policy Guide. This guide lays out the business community’s priorities for the year. The guide was presented this morning to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House. We will deliver a copy to every member of the Legislature and other key officials later today.

The 2012 Public Policy Guide is available on our website at slchamber.com.

2012 is a year of decisions. We all know this is an election year—and a big one at that. In a few months, Utahns will assemble at caucus meetings to elect delegates. Later in the spring the delegates will choose the names that appear on the ballots in June and November. And in November we will elect a senator, four members of the House of Representatives—including our new 4th district, and vote on 91 seats in the State Legislature. We will choose a governor, a Lt. Gov. and an attorney general, as well as a state treasurer and auditor. A majority of seats on the state school board are also up for election.

But the biggest decisions we will make in 2012 will not take place in a voting booth. If we make the right decisions, 2012 will be seen as a time when we charted the path to more prosperous times.

2012 must be the year we decide to embrace optimism. Optimism for our economy that has been growing for over two years now. Optimism for job creation as our unemployment rate declines. Optimism for a brighter day that is no longer far on the horizon, but within our grasp.

2012 is the year we decide to put the Great Recession and the Grueling Recovery behind us.

2012 must be a year in which we continue to pursue the elements of the Utah Jobs Agenda. Our economy grew by more than 30,000 jobs last year. Just this morning, our unemployment rate dropped to 6 percent, and we are now two-and-a-half points below the national rate. Utah’s economy is growing at more than twice the rate of the nation as a whole.

2012 is the year we decide to protect and build on our investment in mobility. We will not jeopardize the work we have done over the past decade; we must decide to maintain what we have built and to add to it.

Health care costs continue to climb at an alarming rate and threaten the livelihood of all Utah families. Let this be the year we make decisions to firmly establish incentives that increase the level of care and not the level of cost.

Clean air is critical to public health and to the health of our economy. Business must do its part and we support efforts to preserve Utah’s unsurpassed natural beauty and the air we breathe.

As we mark the opening of the 2012 General Legislative Session next week. We call upon our elected officials to decide to make 2012 a banner year for our state.

- We must decide to be civil.
- We must decide to create jobs to help our unemployed and our underemployed.
- We must decide to be innovative and invest in both public and higher education.
- We must decide to be leaders in immigration reform and in our support of state’s rights.
- We must decide to be actively engaged in our government.

Our 2012 Public Policy Guide outlines our position and priorities. Additionally, we are focused on five big decisions we will face this year. I’m joined today by five business leaders, each will speak briefly to these points.

Civility – Todd Wolfenbarger
My name is Todd Wolfenbarger, I’m the president of The Summit Group.

2012 must be the year we decide to be civil—in our dialogue and our interaction with one another.

The Salt Lake Chamber supports civility in word and in action. Too often, people with differing opinions say and do unkind and disrespectful things. As the voice of business in Utah, we believe civility must be a guiding value in public discourse. We commit ourselves to respectful discourse and behavior toward all people. We pledge to do our part to help make Utah a more welcoming, inclusive 
and caring community.

This year we can decide to build stronger partnerships—to collaborate on great ideas—and to do together that which we cannot do alone.

Jobs – David Golden
My name is David Golden, I’m the chair of the Salt Lake Chamber Board of Governors and Executive Vice President and Manager of Wells Fargo Commercial Banking’s Mountain Division.

We must decide to focus on job creation to benefit Utah’s unemployed and our underemployed.

We stand ready to work with our elected officials to build on the momentum of our growing economy. One year ago, this Chamber laid out a private sector plan to create 150,000 jobs over five years with the first year’s goal of 18,000 jobs. We not only met that goal, we exceeded it by 25 percent. We continue to support the elements of the Utah Jobs Agenda.

We stand with the majority of our legislators in opposing a general tax increase. We support Governor Herbert’s proposal to eliminate the structural budget deficit. And we ask the Legislature to improve the regulatory environment so that businesses can put Utahns back to work.

We support the restoration of the six million dollars cut over the past three years from the Utah Science Technology and Research initiative. And we support an additional ten million dollars in life science tax credits that will boost an industry that contributes 15 billion dollars in revenue to the state.

Education – Molly Mazzolini
My name is Molly Mazzolini. I’m a partner at Infinite Scale.

We must choose to improve education in our state. We take grate pride in doing more with less, but the time has come to increase the level of investment and innovation in education. By the close of this decade, no less than nine out of every ten Utah third and sixth graders must read at grade level and be proficient in mathematics. For our economy to reach its full potential, 66 percent Utah adults must hold a college degree or skilled trade certificate.

We must choose today to embrace the Prosperity 2020 movement, we can decide in 2012 to truly make education an economic advantage for our state.

Years from now, let our children look back at 2012 as the year when we put their education at the top of our priority list. Let this be the year we decide to put them on the path to enduring prosperity. Let this be the year we make all students college and career ready. Let this be the year we recognize the critical role science, mathematics and engineering will play in the future economy—and let’s teach it to every student.

Now is the time to decide the strength our workforce.

Leadership – Ron Jibson
My name is Ron Jibson, I’m the president and CEO of Questar Corporation and the public policy chair of the Salt Lake Chamber.

Utah is a leader. We actively seek to tackle our own challenges. We must continue to foster this spirit of independence and self-sufficiency.

We must continue to address our broken immigration system. Our state is now looked to as a leader in this area. The Utah Guest Worker Law is a model for the nation but it is not perfect. We must continue to refine it and we support efforts to improve it but it should not be repealed.

Ultimately, immigration is an issue that requires a federal solution. Let this be the year our federal delegation works in concert to push for real reform.

Civic engagement – Carol Hunter
My name is Carol Hunter, I’m vice president of Rocky Mountain Power.

2012 must be the year we all take an active role in our democracy. We have a unique system in our state. On March 13th and 15th, Democrats and Republicans will respectively, elect state and county delegates.

Fifty years ago, 78 percent of Utahns voted. That number has fallen to an unacceptable level and now only one in two registered voters will bother going to the polls to participate in our most sacred civic duty.

2012 must be the year we dismiss passivity in our civic responsibility and it must be the year we all play a role in making our aspirations our reality.

Lane Beattie:
We have faced a great challenge and we have risen to meet it. Smart decisions had us better positioned for the economic downturn and smart decisions during the downturn have us positioned to a truly remarkable 2012.

Our future is in our hands. Let us decide today to make the most of the opportunities that lie before us.

Honoring a Spirit of Enterprise

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011

Congressman Rob Bishop receives Spirit of Enterprise award from Salt Lake Chamber on Vimeo.

Utah’s reputation as a business-friendly state is a significant boost to our economy–it attracts business to our state and creates jobs. That business-first approach is also prevalent among the five members of our federal delegation.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce recently honored each of the members of Utah’s federal delegation with the Spirit of Enterprise award for pro-business voting records during the second session of the 111th Congress.

Sen. Orrin Hatch, Sen. Bob Bennett, Congressman Rob Bishop, Congressman Jim Matheson and Congressman Jason Chaffetz each voted with business at least 70 percent of the time on the highest priority issues including the passage of a tax rate extension, health care reform, financial services reform, promotion of science and mathematics education.

Utah was one of only five states to have every member of its federal delegation honored with the Spirit of Enterprise award. (Idaho, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Wyoming were the others.)

The Chamber will formally present each member of the current delegation with a letter of appreciation during a trip to the nation’s capital later this year. Congressman Bishop recently spoke to the Chamber’s Energy Task Force and he sat down with us to discuss the importance of supporting business friendly policies, how he decides to vote and his work to make America an energy independent nation.