Public Policy – September Update

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

As the “Voice of Business” and Utah’s statewide Chamber, the Salt Lake Chamber leads out on critical issues that impact Utah businesses and our community. In the coming weeks, here is how we plan to “move the dial” to grow our economy, promote community prosperity and champion business in Utah, as well as ways for you to participate for the month of September and beyond.

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Public Policy 

The Policy Chairs meeting gathered to discuss legislative priorities and to plan the upcoming 2015 public policy guide. The Chamber’s intent remains to enhance major initiatives including economic development, infrastructure, environment and Utah’s workforce, thereby ensuring Utah’s has the premier business climate in the country.

The public policy guide serves as the platform for the business community’s priorities for the upcoming legislative session, desired action in Washington and other key community issues. You can find the 2014 Public Policy Guide here.

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

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Energy and Minerals: Fall Energy Trip (Oct. 21-22) 

The next meeting will be with the Natural Resources Business Council on October 8th from 7:30 to 9:00 a.m.

The Salt Lake Chamber and Utah Office of Energy are excited to announce the 2014 Fall Energy Excursion, October 21-22, 2014, to Utah’s coal country and southeastern energy producing counties. The one-night, two-day excursion builds upon the success of previous excursions to the Uinta Basin (Fall 2013) and Milford/Beaver (Spring 2014). Join us as we head south to explore, engage and learn in southeastern Utah. Register here.

The September task force meeting included an excellent presentation from Alan Westenskow from the Utah Economic Council and Zions Bank Public Finance on the energy economies of Uintah and Duchene counties, an update from Tammie Lucero from Uintah County Economic Development, the high-level details regarding our Fall Energy Excursion, and an update from the Office of Energy Development on their office including, recent new staff additions, partnering with Chamber on the aforementioned trip, a new electric vehicle website they will be rolling out in the near future, videos of energy jobs and opportunities and developing an economic impact for energy on Utah’s economy. We will have updates in the near future on the committee, including meeting dates and ways to participate.

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

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Prosperity 2020:

The U.S Chamber Foundation released the Leaders and Laggards report which ranks Utah in the middle of the pack. Of particular interest are Utah’s low scores in student proficiency and postsecondary and workforce readiness. Prosperity 2020 is actively engaged in improving education outcomes and building a better workforce.

A five-year plan has been drafted to take Utah to the top ten in education in the country. These policies have been outlined in detail in a plan being developed by Prosperity 2020 and Education First, with input from major education stakeholders throughout the state. We’d like your feedback on the draft. If your organization would like a presentation on the plan’s objectives, please contact us.

The plan will be rolled out at AcademicXL, a TED-style conference in Salt Lake City in October presenting innovative practices to make Utah a leader in education. Sponsorship opportunities are available.

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

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Natural Resources Business Council:

Every other month, we meet as a group of four-task forces and then in the off months each task force meets independently. This not only drives unity, but helps the Chamber maximize its staff resources and alleviate conflicts and silos.

In addition to driving fidelity, the Council provides a unique venue for the Chamber to speak on stewardship and sustainability and position the business community as a leader on energy issues. The next Natural Resources business council will be on October 8th from 7:30 to 9:00 a.m. and will focus on natural resources principles.

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

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Regulation: Solutions Summit a Success 

Thursday, August 21, 2014 8:00 AM – 2:00 PM

We partnered with Sen. Mike Lee, Gov. Gary Herbert, the Utah League of Cities and Towns, the Utah Association of Counties and over 200 attendees for the Utah Solutions Summit on Thursday, August 21, 2014  to discuss the vast and uncertain regulatory burden under which businesses are required to comply and develop solutions to move our economy forward.

The agenda included discussion with business leaders and government offi­cials about regulation compliance and the relationship between regulation and economic development. This event included featured keynote speakers U.S. Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Utah Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox.

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

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

Over the next few months the Clean Air Task Force will spend time identifying potential legislative issues that will help clean our air including Tier 3 Fuels and Vehicles, incentives for cleaner burning autos and the revised State Implementation Plan developed to bring Utah into compliance with federal air quality standards.  Additionally, the Task Force will begin work on the second Inversion Mitigation Effort, through which we encourage the business community to do what they can to reduce emissions during our winter inversion season.  The Task Force will also start developing an agenda for the 4th Annual Clean Air Summit scheduled for early December.

The Chamber is also pleased to announce that Chris Lee, President of Deseret Digital Media, has accepted the role of Chair of the Clean Air Task Force.  Chris takes over for Jonathan Johnson who led the task force for approximately four years.  We appreciate the many years of leadership Jonathan provided and look forward to having Chris help guide our clean air efforts.

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

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Water: Water Task Force Spinning Up

The next water task force meeting will be held September 18th 2014. The Salt Lake Chamber’s first water task force will focus on best practices for business in water conservation and management. It will also look at current and future infrastructure needs. The Chamber launched its efforts in water last month with “Utah | Water Is Your Business” and will continue to meet in the coming months to address this critical issue for business.

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

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Outdoor Recreation & Tourism:

Working with Office of Outdoor Recreation and EDC Utah, we will host a series of discussions over the coming months to promote best practices, build partnerships and discuss issues facing the Outdoor Recreation and Tourism community.

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

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

This past month Lane Beattie spoke before the Utah League of Cities and Towns Fall Conference concerning funding Utah’s transportation infrastructure, specifically the local roads in our cities and towns.

With Utah’s anticipated population growth, it’s important to maintain a quality transportation system that benefits the entire business community. The 2040 Unified Transportation plan is a comprehensive approach that provides the outcomes required to successfully support our communities. Additionally, the Coalition is working on a comprehensive communications plan with details to be released in the near future.

In addition, The Utah Transportation Coalition and Parsons Brinkerhoff will be hosting an Aerotroplis forum on October 16th to discuss the importance of the connection between Salt Lake City International Airport and Utah’s economy. The airport just recently broke ground on a 10-year terminal rebuild and released a report detailing the economic impact of the airport to Utah’s economy.

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

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Downtown Alliance: Downtown Still Rising

Construction continues at unprecedented levels in downtown Salt Lake City, pushing the urban center to new heights with the following signature projects well underway:

George and Dolores Eccles Theater On Main 

Construction for the $117 million project began in Spring 2014. This 2,500 seat, Broadway-style theater is expected to be completed by the summer of 2016 and will be designed to enhance the culture and economic vitality of the region by attracting first-run touring Broadway shows, as well as other national and local music, comedy and family entertainment acts.

111 South Main 

This Class A office development is currently under construction just north of the Eccles Theater on Main Street. The building will feature 440,452 sq. ft. of office space and be integrated with the Eccles Theater project in terms of functionality and design.

300 South Protected Bike Lanes

Salt Lake City Transportation began its protected bike lane project along 300 South between 300 West and 600 East in August with an estimated completion in October. These protected bike lanes are part of the city’s initiative to create low stress urban bikeways connecting neighborhoods to the heart of downtown and will be similar to bike lanes in other major cities like New York, San Francisco, Chicago and Minneapolis.

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

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Health System Reform: Meet the Candidates Breakfast and Governor’s Healthy Utah Plan

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary and the State of Utah have reached a conceptual deal regarding the Governor’s Healthy Utah Plan. As you know, the Governor has been working hard to close a gap in coverage for people who do not qualify for Medicaid and also fall under the coverage of health exchanges required by the Affordable Care Act. The Chamber has been working closely with the Utah Hospital Association, Chamber members and others to gather support for the Governor’s effort.

We will continue to be an avid supporter with other key partners in urging thoughtful leadership on this key priority. As an example, the Chamber’s Health System Reform task force chairs, Andrew Croshaw and Marc Bennett, did a great job lending the Chamber’s support by testifying to the Legislature’s Healthcare Reform Task Force, urging their support for the Governor’s plan. There will be more details to come in terms of the final agreement for a waiver, as well as next steps for Legislative approval here in Utah, but this update is good news. The Health System Reform Task Force will have a “Meet the Candidates” breakfast on September 25, in lieu of a task force meeting.

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

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International: Utah Global Forum

Utah Global Forum – Wednesday, Sept. 24, 2014

On September 24, 2014, Utah will host the first of its kind Global Forum. Topics will include Building a Global Brand; Doing Business in Europe, Mexico, Canada, and China; Shared Stories of Success from Utah Companies Abroad; Financing Your Global Expansion; and Global Operational Efficiency Through Sound Legal, Tax and Accounting Practices. The agenda for the event has been release and features a number of world-renowned business and trade experts. If you’re thinking about exporting, looking to invest in one of the fastest growing economies in the United States or seeking inspiration to take your business to the next level, you won’t want to miss out.

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

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Public Policy – August Update

Thursday, August 14th, 2014

As the “Voice of Business” and Utah’s statewide chamber, the Salt Lake Chamber leads out on critical issues that impact Utah businesses and our community. In the coming weeks, here is how we plan to “move the dial” to grow our economy, promote community prosperity and champion business in Utah, as well as ways for you to participate for the month of August and beyond.

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Public Policy

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

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

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Prosperity 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Regulation: Chamber partnering on Utah Solutions Summit regarding regulation

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

We are partnering with Sen. Mike Lee, Gov. Gary Herbert, the Utah League of Cities and Towns, and the Utah Association of Counties for the Utah Solutions Summit on Thursday, August 21, 2014 to discuss the vast and uncertain regulatory burden under which businesses are required to comply and develop solutions to move our economy forward.

The agenda includes discussions with business leaders and government offi­cials about regulation compliance as well as the relationship between regulation and economic development. Included featured keynote speakers: U.S. Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Utah Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox.

If you have any other questions or comments, please reach out to Justin Jones at 801.558.9371 or jjones@slchamber.com.

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

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

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

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

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

We will have updates in the very near future on the committee including meeting dates and ways to participate. If you have any questions or comments, please reach out to Michael Merrill at 801.558.5068 or mmerrill@slchamber.com.

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Utah Transportation Coalition: Mountain transportation and Aerotroplis

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

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

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

Addtionally, the Utah Transportation Coalition and Parsons Brinkerhoff will be hosting an Aerotroplis forum on October 16 to discuss the importance of the connection between Salt Lake City International Airport and Utah’s economy. The airport just recently broke ground on a 10-year terminal rebuild and released a report detailing the economic impact of the airport.

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

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Energy: 2014 Uintah Basin Energy Summit

Thursday, Sept. 4, 2014 – Vernal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Downtown Alliance: Downtown still rising

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

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

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

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

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Health System Reform: Governor’s Healthy Utah Plan

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

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

The Health System Reform Task Force will be meeting on August 28. If you have any other questions or comments, please reach out to Justin Jones at 801.558.9371 or jjones@slchamber.com.

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International: Utah Global Forum

Utah Global Forum – Wednesday, Sept. 24, 2014

On September 24, 2014, Utah will host the first of its kind Global Forum. Topics will include Building a Global Brand; Doing Business in Europe, Mexico, Canada and China; Shared Stories of Success from Utah Companies Abroad; Financing Your Global Expansion; and Global Operational Efficiency Through Sound Legal, Tax and Accounting Practices. The agenda for the event has been released and features a number of world-renowned business and trade experts.

If you’re thinking about exporting, looking to invest in one of the fastest growing economies in the United States or seeking inspiration to take your business to the next level, you won’t want to miss out on this forum.

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

 

Mountain Transportation

Monday, August 11th, 2014

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

The discussion hosted at Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort focused on the current Mountain Accord process. Led by Utah Transportation Coalition Co-Chair David R. Golden, the panel include Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams, Wasatch Front Regional Council Executive Director Andrew Grubber, Deer Valley President and CEO, Bob Wheaton and Utah Transit Authority General Manager, Michael Allegra. The panel shared the current progress of Mountain Accord and stressed the need for continued engagement, collaboration and focus on the long-term opportunities.

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

Public Policy – July Update

Tuesday, July 1st, 2014

As the “Voice of Business” and Utah’s statewide Chamber, the Salt Lake Chamber leads out on critical issues that impact Utah businesses and our community. In the coming weeks, here is how we plan to “move the dial” to grow our economy, promote community prosperity and champion business in Utah, as well as ways for you to participate.

Public Policy

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

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

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

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

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Clean Air

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

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

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

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

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Capitol Club

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

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

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

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Regulation

We advocate for simplified and reasonable regulation as well as predictable and certain laws, so rational people can be confident in deploying resources into a productive economy. To that end we are partnering with Sen. Lee, Gov. Gary Herbert, the Utah League of Cities and Towns, and the Utah Association of Counties for the Utah Solutions Summit on Thursday, August 21, 2014 to discuss the vast and uncertain regulatory burden under which businesses are required to comply and develop solutions to move our economy forward.

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

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Water

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

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

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Prosperity 2020

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

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

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

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Utah Transportation Coalition

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

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

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

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Natural Resources Business Council

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

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

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Outdoor Recreation and Tourism

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

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

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Energy and Minerals

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

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

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Health System Reform

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

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

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

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

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

 

Downtown Alliance

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

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

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

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International – World Trade Center

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

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

On September 24, 2014, Utah will host the first of its kind Global Forum. Topics will include Building a Global Brand; Doing Business in Europe, Mexico, Canada, and China; Shared Stories of Success from Utah companies abroad; Financing Your Global Expansion; and Global Operational Efficiency Through Sound Legal, Tax and Accounting Practices.

If you’re thinking about exporting, looking to invest in one of the fastest growing economies in the United States or seeking inspiration to take your business to the next level, you won’t want to miss out. Visit wtcutah.com.

Op-Ed: Utah’s transportation budget struggles

Thursday, May 8th, 2014

Editor’s note: This op-ed was written by Johnny Anderson  and was published on the Deseret News here. Anderson represents Utah’s House District 34 and chairs the Transportation Committee.

The April 16 article by Joan Lowy of The Associated Press titled, “The Transportation Blues,” describes the transportation funding woes of the federal government. The potential loss of or decline in federal transportation dollars will seriously impact Utah. I wanted readers to understand that impact as well as our current funding situation.

According to Utah’s Unified Transportation Plan, we are facing a shortfall of $11.3 billion over the next 25 years in our transportation infrastructure development and maintenance needs. Roughly one-third of that need is at the state level, another one-third at the local level and the remaining one-third is for transit. This is based on our projected population growth and development plans.

In order to limit this discussion to roads, let’s ignore transit funding leaving a $7.5 billion shortfall. Therefore we need approximately $300 million additional per year for the next 25 years to meet our road capacity and maintenance needs. UDOT’s budget for 2013 was just over $1.2 billion, so adding $300 million is a considerable amount. However, if we don’t begin to tackle this issue, then Utah’s transportation system, road congestion and air quality will get progressively worse.

Road maintenance is an important job of both UDOT and local governments. Despite how good our roads might be now, road maintenance is an area where we need to do much better. Local governments are having trouble affording maintenance costs. Most state roads receive appropriate, preventative maintenance but not all. We have thousands of miles of state rural roads that we cannot afford to proactively maintain. Although this is currently a budgetary necessity, it is a terrible strategy. A road is at least six times less expensive to proactively maintain than to just fill potholes. Well-maintained roads last longer and are safer.

Of the $300 million per year we need to meet our funding shortfall, about $67 million would bring all state roads into the proactively maintained category and would pay for all of the bridges and overpasses that need to be replaced. So, even if we didn’t come up with the $300 million we need to properly prepare for growth, we still need the $67 million per year for proper maintenance. The $300 million is very necessary, the $67 million is critical.

Now for the really scary part. Of UDOT’s 2013 budget of $1.2 billion, over $200 million is federal funds. If Congress does not act to restore solvency to the Transportation Trust Fund, we could see that $200 million quickly become less than $10 million in 2015. So our critical need of $67 million quickly jumps to over $250 million for that year.

This year’s Legislative Transportation Interim Committee will work on ideas to deal with our funding shortfall. There will be debate about increasing taxes and whether it is more appropriate to increase the gas tax, registration fees, sales tax or some of each. It will be a difficult task but it must be accomplished. The growth is coming and our infrastructure continues to age.

We can work together and demonstrate the courage and forethought needed to address the problem or we can end up in the same predicament that New Jersey is in. An April 16 New York Times article, “Ailing Pulaski Skyway Offers a Lesson in Creative Financing,”describes how Gov. Chris Christie had to stop a desperately needed congestion relief project and divert money to a failing 82-year-old bridge that is rusting away. We can pay a little now to stay ahead of the problem or pay a lot more later by refusing to act.

 

Key policies to reinvigorate our nation’s transportation program

Monday, April 28th, 2014

Building from conversations with business, civic and elected leaders in communities throughout the country, Transportation for America has developed a platform of seven broad policies to reboot the nation’s federal transportation program and put it—and the nation—on sound footing.

Salt Lake City and Utah continue to be highlighted as a leader in transportation investment and unrivaled partnerships. This document helps summarize these efforts and many others that highlight a path forward for transportation policy in Utah. You can down the document here and read more about Transportation for America at t4america.org.

Why does federal government have a role in transportation funding?

Thursday, April 24th, 2014

U.S. Chamber of Commerce Executive Director of Transportation and Infrastructure Janet Kavinoky talks about the need for infrastructure investment. She is a national recognized expert in transportation policy, funding and finance.

Kavinoky developed and leads the Chamber’s Let’s Rebuild America (LRA) initiative to raise the profile of infrastructure issues, broaden stakeholder engagement, and create new opportunities for businesses to influence public policy.

How the 2014 General Session impacted business

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

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

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

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

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

STRENGTHENED COMMITMENT TO EDUCATION

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

ENHANCED COMMUNITY AND ECONOMIC PROSPERITY

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

ACTED TO IMPROVE AIR QUALITY

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

ESTABLISHED PLATFORM FOR FUTURE ACTION

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

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

 

How are local governments funding roads?

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014

Keeping up with rising costs and flat revenue: how are local governments funding roads?

With 43,000 miles of public roads in Utah it is hard to imagine how to keep all of the infrastructure maintained. This week on “The County Seat,” Terry Wood discusses the topic of road funding with:

• Ron Whitehead, public works director Washington County
• Jim Eardley, Washington County Commissioner
• Cameron Diehl, Utah League of Cities and Towns

What are the challenges of funding roads in Utah and what options have been discussed in the past and the present. What will the picture look like in the future?

Time to raise Utah’s motor fuel tax

Monday, February 10th, 2014

Editor’s note: This article was written by Natalie Gochnour, associate dean in the David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah and chief economist for the Salt Lake Chamber. It was originally published on the Deseret News

Don’t tax you, don’t tax me, tax that fellow behind the tree.

This quip, made by Louisiana Sen. Russell Long, captures Utah’s approach to the motor fuel tax. We’ve been kicking the can down the road for 17 years. It’s time for a serious and informed discussion about raising Utah’s motor fuel tax to make up for lost purchasing power and improved fuel efficiency.

I’m not alone in this viewpoint. Several conservative legislators, like Sen. John Valentine, R-Orem, Rep. Jim Nielson, R-Bountiful, and Rep. Johnny Anderson, R-Taylorsville, have proposed changes to Utah’s gas tax this session. And with good reason. Unlike sales or income taxes, which increase with the price level, the motor fuel tax loses purchasing power over time because it is a per-gallon tax. In inflation-adjusted terms it’s dropped from 24.5 cents per gallon in 1997 (the last time it was raised) to 16.9 cents per gallon today, a 45 percent loss in buying power.

Making matters worse, passenger cars are becoming more fuel-efficient — a good thing except when it comes to paying for the impacts. For every gallon consumed, more wear and tear is placed on the roads. The average fuel efficiency of U.S. passenger cars has increased from 28.7 miles per gallon in 1997 to 35.6 today.

Bottom line: You have to periodically raise the motor fuel tax just to stay even. Staying even is not a tax increase.

And let’s be honest. We have to do a lot more than stay even. Utah’s population grows by approximately 50,000 people each year. Ninety-one percent of Utahns live in urban settings. We have urban problems like traffic congestion and air pollution. If we don’t take care of our road maintenance needs we increase our costs in the future. We must make mighty investments in transportation to support commerce and maintain our life quality.

The Utah Legislature understands this. They’ve invested substantially in Legacy Parkway, I-15 in Davis, Salt Lake and Utah Counties and other projects throughout the state.

But it’s come at a cost.

We’ve borrowed huge sums of money increasing our net general obligation debt per capita from $434 just five years ago to $1,161 today. Today our debt ratio is second highest among Moody’s AAA-rated states. This year in the Transportation Investment Fund we will spend more money on debt service than on projects. We can’t borrow more and remain fiscally responsible.

We’ve also earmarked record amounts of sales tax to transportation projects. In 1997, the state earmarked less than $10 million of sales tax revenue. Today, we earmark over $450 million. We can’t earmark any more and adequately fund other needs.

That leaves us with four options: do without (not a good choice for the economy), take from other government services like education (ill-advised when investment is already low), raise general taxes (poor choice in an uncertain economy) or adjust the motor fuel tax to recover lost purchasing power.

Raising the motor fuel tax is by far the best option.

The motor fuel tax is a user fee. Unlike most government services, transportation is metered at every pump. It you drive more, you pay more. That’s fair. If you pay more, you are incentivized to use less — a good thing for congestion and air quality. Such is the magic of a user fee. It brings the power of market forces to the provision of government services.

Some will say the motor fuel tax is a dying revenue. I disagree. It’s only dying if the Legislature refuses to act. Some will say motor fuel taxes hurt low-income families. Let’s find other ways to help them. Some will say it’s an election year and the Legislature won’t entertain a tax increase. Maybe so, but when you kick the can down the road the pile gets bigger and bigger.

The Utah economy benefits from transportation infrastructure. We need to have the foresight to have users pay for it.

Photo credit: futureatlas.com