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.

*   *   *

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.

*   *   *

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.

*   *    *

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.

*   *   *

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.

*   *   *

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.

*   *   *

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.

*   *   *

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.

*   *   *

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.

*   *   *

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.

*   *   *

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.

 *   *   *

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.

Governor’s Energy Development Summit powers Utah’s economy

Friday, June 13th, 2014

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 honored that contribution, setting the stage for the sector to continue to power our state’s economy.

Co-sponsored by the Salt Lake Chamber, the summit was held June 3-4 at the Salt Palace Convention center in downtown Salt Lake City. The conference recognized and shared the state’s current energy objectives and future opportunities, providing a critical forum through which industry, government and stakeholders discussed the state’s most significant energy concerns and emerging issues. The conference also encouraged attendance and participation from individuals with a variety of interests and focuses, and presented them with valuable networking opportunities, forums for dialogue, project updates and policy insights.

The Energy Development Summit is a key objective in  Gov. Gary R. Herbert’s 10-Year strategic plan and is directed by the Utah Office of Energy Development, both of which continue to pay dividends for our state. These two important initiatives have provided Utah businesses and communities with the necessary tools to continue practicing responsible development and grow the development of Utah’s energy resources.

The summit provided the context for Utah to grow and develop energy education, initiate well thought-out energy policies, incentivize responsible development activities, and recruit companies that stand for the technologies and opportunities of the future. These efforts only continue to build momentum including the release of the Utah Energy Efficiency and Conservation Plan at the Summit

In a dynamic keynote Ted Nordhaus, co-founder of The Breakthrough Institute, touched on Utah’s advantages and shared his insights on the global significance of embracing and installing innovative new energy technologies. This includes highlighting the wide variety of energy resources and innovative entrepreneurs and companies that call Utah home.

The 2014 Utah Governor’s Energy Development Summit was a step forward in reaching the goal of providing leadership in the balanced development for all Utah’s energy resources.  As we look toward the future, Utah should continue, encourage and facilitate appropriate energy and mineral production. Maintaining this focus will preserve and strengthen Utah’s competitive advantage, foster a regulatory climate that encourages capital investment, remove uncertainty, improve transparency, reduce the burden on business, protect the environment, and continue to champion energy efficiency and cost-effective energy options.

The Salt Lake Chamber welcomed the opportunity to support the Summit and learn from all attendees about the myriad of opportunities our state has in relation to energy and mineral development. We look forward to another great year for Utah’s energy sector and our economy.

Be wattsmart, save energy and improve your bottom line

Thursday, May 1st, 2014

As a business, it’s important to reduce costs and be kind to the environment. Both are good for business and the community. The Salt Lake Chamber also supports conservation as well as innovative and environmentally responsible development of energy.

When Utah Paperbox, a 100-year-old company that produces customer packaging for everything from chocolates to golf ball sleeves, was looking for energy and operational efficiency options for the expansion of their Salt Lake City facility, they turned to Rocky Mountain Power’s wattsmart Business program for help.

One of the energy-saving installations to Utah Paperbox included an innovative fan-cooling system and six direct evaporative coolers. Because evaporative cooling uses considerably less energy than traditional air conditioning, Utah Paperbox is saving 294,000 kilowatt-hours per year in electricity and more than $26,000 every year in energy costs. They also earned more than $34,000 in Rocky Mountain Power wattsmart Business incentives to help pay for the project.

Wattsmart Business offers technical expertise and cash incentives for installing energy-efficient equipment that will keep you cool while saving energy and money. Incentives also are available for adding insulation, installing a cool roof, or replacing windows – all things that reduce heat gain in a building.

The Salt Lake Chamber sat down with Rocky Mountain Power president & CEO Richard Walje to discuss why businesses should be wattsmart businesses and how it can make a difference.

Learn more at wattsmart.com.

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.