Unemployment hits a five-year low in Utah

Thursday, March 13th, 2014


The beginning of March marked a great announcement from the State of Utah.

The Salt Lake Chamber joined Gov. Gary Herbert to announce that Utah’s unemployment rate dropped to 3.9 percent, according to the Department of Workforce Services. The unemployment rate in Utah hasn’t been below 4 percent since November 2008.

Currently, the national unemployment rate is 6.6 percent, which is 2.7 points higher than it is in the Beehive State.

This is a testament to the great work of Utah’s private sector business leaders for helping create jobs. In the past 12 months, Utah has added nearly 35,000 jobs to the workforce, contributing to a 2.8 percent job growth rate. Thanks to this, Utah’s economy is gaining momentum and moving towards a strong 2014.

The Salt Lake Chamber joins with Gov. Gary Herbert to make job creation a top priority. We support the governor’s plan to facilitate the creation of 100,000 jobs in 1,000 days. As of right now, Utah is over the 70,000 mark for this goal, which is ahead of pace. The Chamber also has a complimentary private sector job creation plan, the Utah Jobs Agenda. This year, Utah’s private sector is set to achieve the Utah Jobs Agenda goal of creating 150,000 jobs in five years—more than a year ahead of schedule. We will continue to make job creation a major focus.

Utah’s economy and business climate continues to be strong, thanks to sensible and stable taxes, a well-educated workforce and our investment in infrastructure. These are things we need to sustain in order to keep up this kind of progress–and with the collaborative spirit of Utah, that’s something we can certainly do.

The 2014 Public Policy Guide and business priorities released

Wednesday, January 8th, 2014

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

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

View and download the 2014 Public Policy Guide PDF here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The 2014 Public Policy guide is available online at 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:

33 graduate from 10,000 Small Businesses, create 100+ jobs

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

Last week, the 33 small business owners graduated from Utah’s inaugural Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program cohort. The program, an overall $500 million investment, helps entrepreneurs create jobs and economic opportunity by providing them with greater access to education, financial capital and business support services.

The 33 graduates were selected out of a pool of 103 applicants to participate in the program on scholarship. Eleven sessions and more than one hundred hours of training from Salt Lake Community College (Goldman Sachs’ education partner in Utah) supported business growth by boosting operations and creating job opportunities.

“Goldman Sachs chose Salt Lake Community College because of our commitment to advance economic and workforce development,” SLCC President and CEO Dr. Cynthia Bioteau said in her Salt Lake Tribune op-ed. “The college’s first cohort of 33 companies has already created more than 80 new jobs — a remarkable accomplishment with just months of training.”

As it turns out, those numbers are actually even stronger. The business owners who participated in the 10,000 Small Businesses program created more than 100 jobs in the last five months. Those efforts boost other job creation goals including the Utah Jobs Agenda, a ten-point plan crafted by the Chamber to create 150,000 in five years, and Gov. Herbert’s plan to create 100,000 jobs in 1,000 days.

The graduates had nothing but glowing comments about the program, saying the best of the best were teaching and mentoring them, and that the resources and support they received were immensely helpful in furthering their business.

“The program helped me secure a line of credit to expand our business,” said Frank Dsouza, the owner of Seaich Corp., a Salt Lake City designer and importer of women’s accessories. He added three new employees to his business with help from 10,000 Small Businesses. “I needed financial resources, and the next thing I knew, I was in front of angel investors and bankers willing to do business with me. Growing up in India, I did not have an opportunity to further my education, so this was a dream come true,”

The businesses represented by the 10,000 Small Businesses participants covered a broad spectrum of industries, including manufacturing, transportation, design, retail, human services and more. Of the 33 businesses represented, 17 were women-owned making this the largest group of women that have participated in a single cohort since the program launched.

“Most of our large companies are not growing U.S. jobs, in fact many are doing the opposite,” wrote Jackie Zehner, CEO of Women Moving Millions, who attended the 10,000 Small Businesses graduation. “But the clouds parted on my gloomy view and the sun came out. Actually 33 suns came out. They were the smiling faces of the 33 graduates of the first cohort of the Salt Lake City 10,000 Small Business Program. In sharing their stories they gave me renewed hope that we can create jobs and grow our economy one business, one person at a time. Congratulations!”

If your business is past the start-up phase and ready to grow, now is the time to apply for the next cohort set to start this August. The application deadline is, Monday June 3. Learn more about applying at www.slcc.edu/10ksb.

Click here for the Salt Lake Tribune’s story on the 10,000 Small Businesses graduation.

Across the nation, more than 1,300 small business owners have participated in 10,000 Small Businesses program. Within six months of graduating, approximately 63 percent report increases in their revenues and 45 percent reported creating net new jobs in that same time frame.

With support of Governor Herbert, Goldman Sachs and the Goldman Sachs Foundation the program launched in Utah in July 2012. SLCC delivers the education portion of the program while capital is provided by Mountain West Small Business Finance. the State of Utah, Salt Lake Community College, Mountain West Small Business Finance, the Salt Lake Chamber, the Utah Hispanic Chamber, the Pete Suazo Business Center and the Utah Small Business Development Centers Network.

The program is currently operating in Chicago, Cleveland, Houston, Long Beach, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Philadelphia, New York and Salt Lake City and capital only states—Kentucky, Montana, Oregon, Tennessee and Washington

2013 Public Policy Guide outlines business community’s priorities

Monday, January 14th, 2013

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

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

You can read the official news release here. 

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

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

Utah export growth doubles the nation’s

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

It’s no secret exports have been a bright spot in the Utah economy over the past several years. Exports grew from $13.8 billion in 2010 to nearly $19 billion in 2011, and new numbers show the momentum continues to build.

According to a report by the International Trade Administration, Utah’s exports in the first half of 2012 are up 14 percent from the same period in 2011. From $8.5 billion, this year Utah exported $9.7 billion between January and June. Over the past five years alone, there’s been an overall 142.3 percent growth in Utah merchandise exports. This growth is better than President Barack Obama’s National Export initiative to double exports by 2015 in an effort to create two million jobs nationwide.

Not bad for a landlocked state without a seaport.

Nationally, exports have grown by seven percent in the first half of the year. International exports support high paying jobs and that means the economy is heading in the right direction. What these new statistics also show is that Utah is two-times ahead of the game.

Utah exports metal manufactures, computer and electronic products, chemicals, food, and transportation equipment. Any business, large or small, that produces goods can export them. The Salt Lake Chamber’s strategic partner, the World Trade Center Utah specializes in helping Utah businesses enter profitable global markets.

Not only do international exports bring revenue to Utah businesses–they also create and support more Utah jobs. By getting involved in exports, your business is helping to create jobs. Don’t wait to start exporting!

In January of 2011, the Salt Lake Chamber outlined a 10-point plan called the Utah Jobs Agenda to create 100,000 jobs in 1,000 days. This plan emphasizes the importance of exports and education (among other things) in the creation and support of Utah jobs.

New international partnerships for the Chamber

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

The Salt Lake Chamber has formalized new alliances with the Ural Chamber of Commerce & Industry of Russia and the Sana’a Chamber of Commerce & Industry of the Republic of Yemen. The chambers will actively promote business exchange and cooperation.

Through collaborative efforts, the chambers will strive to promote a global outlook and international understanding to improve relationships, and boost international exchange and business activities that are mutually beneficial.

The Salt Lake Chamber encourages Utah businesses to participate in the global marketplace. Over the past five years, Utah was the only state to double international merchandise exports. In the first quarter of 2012 alone, exports increased 22 percent from the year before, totaling $5.17 billion.

With the help of  World Trade Center Utah and the Chamber, businesses can learn how to engage in international exports. Utah exports mean more high paying Utah jobs.

Russian Business Mission
The World Trade Center Utah will help Utah businesses build relationships with businesses in Russia. WTCU is leading a business mission from Sept. 22 – 27 to uncover business opportunities for Utah-based companies. Businesses that take advantage of this opportunity will build relationships with key business and government figures in Russia, expand their business network and gain a better understanding of business practices in Russia.

The deadline to register for this mission is Aug. 3. For more information, see this flyer or contact Richard at richard@wtcut.com or 801.532.8080.

On July 19, WTCU will also be hosting a “Doing Business in Russia” seminar. It will take place in the World Trade Center building (60 East South Temple, 3rd floor) starting at 8 a.m.

Photo from maistora on Flickr.

Utah’s rising exports and the need for more FTAs

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

The constant bright spot in a tough economy, Utah exports continued to grow through the first part of 2012.

Utah’s first quarter exports (Jan-March 2012) totaled $5.17 billion—a 22 percent increase from the first quarter of 2011, which saw $4.25 billion in exports.

World Trade Center Utah President and CEO Lew Cramer says this growth is heading forward at a “blistering pace,” setting Utah up to have over $20 billion in total exports for the whole year.

International exports are a big component in the Utah Jobs Agenda, a 10-point plan to create 150,000 jobs in five years. And those billions of dollars in exports translate into more support for both new and existing Utah jobs.

Another bit of good news today is that a Free Trade Agreement between the U.S. and Colombia has now come to fruition. This agreement is expected to increase U.S. GDP by nearly $2.5 billion and U.S. merchandise exports by $1.1 billion.

Free Enterprise from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce notes that “more than 95 percent of the world’s consumers live outside our borders and their demand for American goods and services is growing every day.”

This is why it’s important for all businesses to look into exports and how they can optimize their efforts outside the boundaries of the U.S. You may not think your business has anything worth exporting, but odds are, it does.

The issue that remains is that exports need a monumental kick in order for the U.S. to really see growth and more jobs from it. It’s not just large businesses that can export—any business can become involved, even small firms. If your business needs help entering profitable global markets, contact the World Trade Center Utah.

Engaging business in rural Utah

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

In January 2011, the Chamber introduced The Utah Jobs Agenda, a 10-point, private sector plan to create 150,000 jobs over five years. One element of that plan was to create a private-led partnership with representatives of rural Utah. Last week, the Chamber took steps toward that goal, hosting the 10th Annual Rural Business Conference in Richfield.

President of Grow America Alan Hall kicked off the conference with a keynote presentation. Grow America is an organization committed to economic growth and stimulation by supporting entrepreneurs—making it very fitting for Hall to lead the group for this conference.

Hall encouraged the conference participants to leverage their entrepreneurial skills and ambitions for the start-up of new companies. He recognized that entrepreneurship requires huge sacrifice, but he explained that such sacrifice creates the potential of huge value to founders, employees and economies. As he “put his money where his mouth is,” Hall invited attendees to register for the Springboard Competition that Grow America is hosting and is also contributing $1 million in prize money.

During the breakout portion of the conference, Utah business leaders had the opportunity to meet with professionals ranging in industries and specialties based on their needs, ranging from start-up financing to email marketing to international exporting.

Following lunch, Pete Codella from Codella Marketing presented a keynote address on social media marketing and its vital role in business today. Between defining terms like “Twitter handle” and “viral video,” Codella shared statistics and strategies for implementing and maintaining a social media presence. He explained that social media marketing is essential, not just a one-time affair but an ongoing active strategy.

Attendees for this year’s Rural Business Conference responded very positively to the event, providing wonderful feedback.

The Salt Lake Chamber along with its many sponsors and supporters look forward to bringing Rural Utah together again next spring to learn of one another’s successes and to share information relevant to rural business in Utah for 2013.

Metro areas driving national export growth

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

The Utah Jobs Agenda is a 10-point, private sector plan to create 150,000 jobs over five years. One of the key components of the Agenda is to grow is to double the value of international merchandise exports during that time period.

Utah has been a leader in export growth—increasing exports by 142 percent in the past five years, reaching our all-time high of over $18 billion last year.

Utah exports create high paying Utah jobs.

The Brookings Institute recently found exports have played a major role in driving the U.S. economy forward in the past two years, contributing to more than 46 percent of the nation’s growth in 2010. In fact, total exports that year almost reached pre-recession levels.

Export Nation highlights that metropolitan areas contributed to 84 percent of the nation’s exports while the top 100 metros accounted for 65 percent of U.S. goods and services sold abroad. All large metro areas also experienced positive export growth rates between 2009 and 2010. Exporting is now being looked at as mostly a metropolitan enterprise.

Brookings says exports supported 600,000 new export-related jobs and 10.7 million jobs altogether in 2010. Of those, large metropolitan exports supported over 67 percent of export-production jobs even beyond the metro boundaries. New York was the biggest metro exporter to support the largest amount of jobs (329,000) with Los Angeles following close behind.

Of the largest 100 metro areas, 11 achieved export growth sufficient enough to meet the nation’s goal of doubling exports. It may seem a small number, but it’s double the number of metros that had this kind of growth rate between 2003 and 2008.

Utah was among states where metropolitan area exports account for over 60 percent of the export total for the state. Others include California, Washington, Oregon, Texas, New York, Florida, Pennsylvania along with several others mostly along the eastern seaboard.

Utah has led the U.S. in merchandise export growth for the past three years with 39.5 percent growth, jumping from $13.8 billion in 2010 to $18.93 billion in 2011.

U.S. exports to developing countries are increasing and metropolitan areas that produce what those emerging markets need are in a good position to take advantage of the growth opportunities. World Bank works with sponsors nationwide to help get those products to development projects in those nations—thus helping the U.S. export numbers. As a Private Sector Liaison Officer, the Chamber helps Utah businesses procure contracts for projects funded by the World Bank.

Selling products to customers outside the U.S. can bring a big boost to businesses of all sizes.

On Capitol Hill, boring is good

Monday, March 12th, 2012

Editor’s note: This post is an op-ed by Salt Lake Chamber President and CEO Lane Beattie, published in the Deseret News Sunday, March 11, 2012. 

The 2012 legislative session may go down as one of the most boring in recent history.  And that is a good thing.

In almost every case, legislators kept their noses to the grindstone and focused on the work of the people. They addressed issues that actually matter and worked to make our state a better place to live, work and raise a family. Divisive, polarizing subjects that often plague legislative sessions were largely ignored or tabled before they reached the full body for consideration. And the lack of drama served the people of Utah well.

In education, legislators recognized the economic importance of a skilled, well-trained workforce by supporting innovation and investment in public and higher education. They funded enrollment growth, state of the art assessment, improved teacher evaluations, early intervention and educational excellence at Utah’s colleges and universities. I was personally pleased to see salary increases for Utah’s remarkable teachers, one of our state’s greatest economic assets. With these and other improvements, the Legislature advanced the priorities of 15 chambers of commerce and other leading business associations who have joined to form Prosperity 2020, a movement to improve education in Utah.

In immigration reform, legislators largely ignored the contentious mêlées of the past and allowed existing laws to stand. No one will argue Utah’s guest worker law is perfect, but it is an honest attempt to deal with a challenging issue and multiple federal failures. Improvements need to be made, but we have time to do that. Instead of continuing to tear at old wounds, legislators agreed to see how the courts respond to current laws and resisted the temptation of inflammatory rhetoric and controversial battles. An honest assessment of immigration reform requires that the federal government, not states, address the root cause of illegal immigration– a shortage of hourly and skilled labor and deficient border control. Avoiding unproductive arguments about immigration was a win for the people of Utah.

In health care reform, legislators worked to contain health care costs by wisely rejecting several insurance mandates. Looming deadlines from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act gave this work greater urgency. Our leaders delivered. Utah already has some of the highest-quality, lowest-cost medical care in the country. The work of legislators this year will keep Utah’s health care system among the finest in the nation.

This session was not without its problems. It is possible to find isolated decisions that people on both the right and left will complain about. But 2012 lacked the unproductive drama that has sometimes defined Utah’s Capitol Hill.

Senate President Michael Waddoups and House Speaker Becky Lockhart, along with legislative leaders from both parties, should be commended for managing the session productively, constructively and with dignity. Gov. Herbert set the standard for fiscal responsibility in his balanced budget recommendation and led the charge for a tax decrease that will further strengthen the Utah economy. The business community thanks the dedicated public servants, from both parties, who worked hard, day-in and day-out to support the betterment of our state. We recognize and salute your all too often unheralded efforts.

The people of Utah deserve competent, thoughtful and dignified officials who act in the community’s interest to solve urgent problems and address long-term needs. As Utah’s business leader, the Salt Lake Chamber encourages all Utahns to actively participate in the political process. Learn about the issues. Attend caucus meetings. And vote for the candidate in the party of your choice.  In a democracy, we truly get the leaders we deserve. It is the responsibility of every citizen to ensure our elected leaders make good decisions and help our state to grow in positive ways. We applaud the legislature for its work this year, and we encourage even more boring sessions in 2013 and beyond.

Lane Beattie is president and CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber, Utah’s largest business association and Utah’s statewide business leader. Beattie is a former Utah Senate President.