State and SLC should work together on Emergency Ops Center

Friday, February 26th, 2010

The recent economic downturn has placed additional emphasis on efficiency for business and government, families and individuals. We all have to find a way to do more with less.

Of course, increasing efficiency isn’t something we do only when we’re forced to; it’s a basic principle of business. Business leaders constantly search for more efficient processes and lower prices for raw materials. For government it is important to get the most out of every tax dollar to maximize the benefit to the public.

One way we can get the most “bang” for our buck is by building a necessary Emergency Operations Center (EOC) that serves both Salt Lake City and the state.

In the event of a significant disaster, an EOC serves as the central command and control facility. Salt Lake City doesn’t have one and the state of Utah’s is outdated and located in an unsafe location.

In the event of major disaster affecting large portions of the state, Salt Lake City, the capital city, is the logical location for a statewide EOC. As the seat of government, the governor’s office, the legislature and the federal offices are all located there. The majority of the population lives close in Salt Lake County and the important transportation system could prove vital to deploying supplies and manpower.

Some would argue two EOCs—one for the state and one for the capital city—are desirable so there is redundancy in case one is destroyed in an emergency. I respectfully disagree. The better path is to have a joint facility, carefully located and wisely built, and a contingency plan should it fail. This is a much more prudent and effective strategy for the taxpayer

In lean times we also have to carefully distinguish between needs and wants. For Salt Lake City, the EOC is the former, not the latter. The public safety building is in horrible condition and does not include an EOC. The state may very well be content to wait another year or two even as we face budget difficulties that thinking is penny-wise and pound-foolish.

The taxpayer—including businesses—cares only that government maximizes the efficient use of tax dollars to provide necessary services. Building two separate facilities when one would be sufficient doesn’t meet that standard.

The state and city should work together to construct one facility that will meet the needs of both entities and save the taxpayers money.

Utah tops the nation in merchandise exports

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

World Trade Center Utah President and CEO Lew Cramer (left) and Vice President Elizabeth Goryunova pause for a photo with the Ambassador of Brazil to the United States

Utah continues to perform impressively on the international stage, even during an economic downturn. 2008 was a record setting year for Utah exports and the World Trade Center Utah has announced that 2009 managed to equal the remarkable total of $10.3 billion in merchandise exports.

The 2009 year-end commodity export figures, announced recently by the U.S. Department of Commerce, showed double-digit decreases in exports nationally with some western states down as much as 25 percent. In total, 12 states saw merchandise exports decrease by more than 25 percent.

Contrast that with Utah that saw no decrease from the previous year—and the previous year was an all-time high.

Utah is global.

Utah’s four year export average remains very positive overall.  Over 2,400 Utah businesses involved in export held their own when compared to the rest of the country, leaving Utah as the number one state in the nation poised to lead the export recovery called for by President Barack Obama.  The President recently called for a doubling of exports over the next five years.

And it’s not like we benefitted from a solid start and limped to the finish line. Utah is beginning 2010 with signs of strength; as 2009 ended, the month of December was the largest single export month on record.

The World Trade Center Utah plans to work even harder with GOED, our state chambers of commerce, EDCUtah, the U.S Commercial Service and our many other strategic partners to build on this superb record for Utah in 2010.

Procter & Gamble CEO shares ideas on leadership at Business and U

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

P&G President & CEO Robert McDonald speaks at Business and U

Yesterday the Salt Lake Chamber co-hosted the first of what we hope will be many Business and U luncheons. We want to thank the David Eccles School of Business for bringing Procter & Gamble President and CEO Robert A. McDonald to discuss his ideas on leadership. McDonald is a graduate of the University of Utah.

Here are just a few nuggets of wisdom McDonald shared:

  • Everyone wants to succeed.
  • Leadership is not time efficient but it is worth your time.
  • Putting people in the right jobs is the most important job of a leader.
  • Character is the most important trait of a leader. That means putting the needs of the organization ahead of your own.
  • “No excuse, sir,” implies that something went wrong and that you won’t let it happen again.
  • Choose the harder right rather than the easier wrong.
  • Diverse groups of people are more innovative than homogenous.
  • Ineffective strategies, systems and culture are bigger barriers to achievement than the talents of people.
  • There will be some people who will not make it on the journey.
  • Organizations must renew themselves.
  • Recruiting is a top priority. P&G only promotes from within.
  • The true test of a leader is the performance of the organization when he or she is absent or after he or she departs.

We’re excited to host the next edition of Business and U. We’ll post the next one on slchamber.com.

Downtown Farmers Market receives award at Salt Lake Magazine’s 2010 Dining Awards

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

Congratulations to the Downtown Farmers Market received the Food and Wine Education Award from Salt Lake Magazine at the annual Dining Awards ceremony, held February 23.

“I am honored to accept this award on behalf of the Downtown Farmers Market,” said Kim Angeli-Selin, director of the Farmers Market. “I thank our hardworking staff, more than 200 dedicated vendors and the thousands of shoppers that support local vendors at the weekly Farmers Market. As food educators, our message is simple—buy fresh, buy local and hug a farmer today.”

The Downtown Alliance congratulates the many downtown dining establishments and people who received various Dining Awards from this year’s panel of professional and amateur foodies. “Downtown Salt Lake is on the rise and our urban restaurant community has never been more diverse or more dynamic,” said Jason Mathis, executive director of the Downtown Alliance. “We applaud the Dining Award winners located downtown and in other parts of the state for their commitment to excellence.”

Downtown award winners:
Best Chef:
Nathan Powers, Bambara

Best Restaurant:
Bambara

Best Chinese Restaurant:
J. Wong’s Asian Bistro

Best Neighborhood Restaurant:
Tin Angel Café

Best Japanese Restaurant:
Naked Fish

Best Brewpub:
Squatters Pub Brewery

Best Indian Restaurant:
Himalayan Kitchen

Best Comfort Food:
Bay Leaf Café

Hall of Fame:
Takashi

Lifetime Achievement Award:
Valter Nassi, Cucina Toscana

Server of the Year:
Jimmy Santangelo, Donovan’s

Catholic Community Services received the Community Service Award. Through a multitude of programs, including handing out daily simple, nutritious sack lunches and serving hundreds of hot lunches to the poor and homeless, CCS aims to accomplish the most fundamental of human services: feed the people.

The Rainy Day is here

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

State legislators should increase the tobacco tax to at least the national average and utilize the Rainy Day Fund to protect public and higher education from budget cuts. That was the message from the Salt Lake Chamber, Utah’s largest and longest-standing business association, at the State Capitol today.

“Funding for education is so critical to our long-term economic strength,” said Lane Beattie, president and CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber. “We have money put away to protect our interests in tough times and we have a way we can generate more revenue in a targeted manner. This plain just makes sense.”

Chamber leaders said they are pleased that legislators are protecting public education from further budget cuts, but they are deeply concerned that higher education faces cuts in the range of 20 percent. Higher education budget cuts in Utah dramatically exceed the cuts in other states for the last few years.  The consequence will be falling behind in workforce training and research spinoff.

“Higher education is the chief economic engine in the state,” said Jake Boyer, president of The Boyer Company and chair of the Salt Lake Chamber Board of Governors.

“Our colleges and universities are developing our workforce; they are exploring new frontiers of knowledge and creating new industries.   Businesses know that hard times are the time to invest in core strategies to position for future prosperity.  We must maintain our investment in higher education during these difficult times.”

The Chamber calls for $50 million of the Rainy Day Fund to offset the lower than anticipated revenue projections released last week. This would still leave $203 million in the Rainy Day Fund. Mark Bouchard, the chair of the Chamber’s Education Task Force and senior managing director of CB Richard Ellis, says using the Rainy Day Fund for public and higher education is an investment in the state’s future workforce and prosperity.

“One of the things that makes Utah a well managed state is our Rainy Day Fund  — money set aside to protect us in difficult times,” Bouchard said. “The rainy day is here, and we need to show the courage to tap into it for education.  If we make dramatic cuts in higher education we are putting the core missions of our colleges and universities at risk. They are our economic engines.  We can’t shut down the engine when we need it more than ever.

Increasing the tobacco tax from its current rate of 69 cents per pack of cigarettes to the national average of approximately $1.40 would generate an estimated $40 million for the state. That money offsets health costs to the state directly attributable to tobacco use and ultimately makes more money available to fund education.

“As a business community, we feel it would be irresponsible for us to simply pontificate on the importance of education without providing a plan to pay for it,” said Randy Shumway, president of Cicero Group. “Increasing the tobacco tax has overwhelming support from both the public and the business community because it has nothing but upside.”

Strengthening Utah’s education system is a top priority of the business community. Efforts this year have centered primarily around protecting funding but the overall vision is to increase investment and innovation.  Utah must improve its high school and college graduation rates to compete in the global economy. Investing in  human capital is the path to prosperity.

AUDIO

Study shows chamber members are safer bet

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

Businesses that belong to their local chambers of commerce are have better credit scores and pay their bills faster than businesses that do not belong to such associations, according to a study.

The American Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE) released the findings of a new study today. The study details the credit scores and payment behavior of ten local chambers of commerce across the United States, comparing their member businesses with other regional, state and national business averages.

“Chamber members have long been seen as responsible and reliable members of their community,” said Mick Fleming, president and CEO of ACCE.  “What this study indicates is that the perception is right.  From a credit standpoint, chamber members on average are better businesses, and as a result they have significant advantages in obtaining the funds they need.  In this economy and the tight credit environment we are experiencing, that’s especially important.”

According to the study, chamber members possess an average credit score of 629, compared to a 557 average score for businesses at large.  Such scores – the payment behavior from which they are derived — play a significant role in attracting lines of credit and securing favorable terms from lenders and suppliers.

A complete copy of the study, which includes both the aggregate findings, as well as the individual commercial credit scores for each of the ten local chambers, is available on the ACCE and Cortera sites.  The study was contracted by ACCE and performed by Cortera, which reviewed payment behavior for chamber member businesses.

“The economic health of the entire supply chain is dependent on the payment behavior of each of its stakeholders,” said Jim Swift, president and CEO of Cortera. “This study suggests that chamber members are among the most dependable participants in this ecosystem.”

Established in 1914, ACCE is the only national association serving the professional development needs of chamber professionals throughout the United States and Canada, representing more than 7,300 individuals.

Life in Utah 2010

Friday, February 19th, 2010

The 2010 edition of Life in Utah magazine is now available. The annual publication is Utah’s premiere lifestyle and relocation guide.

If you would like copies of the magazine to distribute at your place of business, you can request them by calling the Chamber at 801.364.3631. We print 300,000 copies and distribute them throughout the valley. Life in Utah gives our members a chance to expose their business to Utahns, potential Utahns and visitors.

TAKE A LOOK

Chamber VP of Business and Community Relations receives honor

Friday, February 19th, 2010

We’re taking a moment to congratulate one of our own today. Ryan Evans, the Chamber Vice President of Business and Community Relations has been named one of Utah’s “Forty Under Forty” by Utah Business Magazine.

Ryan, 35, started at the Chamber as a member of the Business Development team before directing the Member Services department. He assumed his current role last year in which he works to build relationships between the Chamber and other business and community organizations.

In addition to his work at the Chamber, Ryan is a member of United Way Young Leaders and sits on the board of directors for the Special Olympics.

The Forty Under Forty list is available in the February issue of Utah Business.

Topping the Charts

Friday, February 19th, 2010

Over the past few weeks, Utah has found a comfortable home at the top, or near the top of several lists.  It seems we’re no longer such a “well-kept secret.”

Forbes magazine ranks the commute to and from Salt Lake City as the best in the nation. According to a study released Tuesday, “20% of workers find a way to get to work besides driving alone, which leaves the roads less jammed. It’s not an accident that commuters in Salt Lake have it better than elsewhere. The state of Utah has poured resources into initiatives that strengthen the city’s infrastructure… and [utilized] special road-construction techniques that minimize interruptions to traffic.” (READ FULL ARTICLE)

Anyone who commuted to Salt Lake City from Davis or Weber County before the debut of UTA’s FrontRunner service and the opening of Legacy Parkway can attest to just how much the trip has improved. We’ve all marveled at the ingenious technique utilized by UDOT to build bridges and move them into place without tying up traffic for months at a time. The addition of the Mountain View Corridor and FrontRunner South will provide similar benefits for Utah County residents.

As a Chamber, we consider transportation a top priority and we’re proud of state leaders and the steps they have made to eliminate gridlock and keep traffic flowing. That means businesses can thrive and workers can make it to the office to work, and home to relax. Utah’s transportation system is a significant element of our unsurpassed quality of life.

Earlier this month, Forbes heaped even more praise on our state, recognizing us as the best in debt management. As Derek Miller, managing director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, pointed out: “the state debt is $447 for every Utahn but the national debt is 100 times than figure–$40,000.” (READ FULL ARTICLE)

The responsible fiscal management exhibited by the State Legislature and our governors should be a source of great pride for all Utahns. We live in the best-managed state in the nation. That has helped us weather these challenging economic times better than the rest of the country and it is a major reason we’ll be the first state to emerge from the recession.

Perhaps most impressively, a Gallup poll released last week ranks Utah near the top of the list when it comes to well-being. We finished second to Hawaii so I can only assume the survey was done in January when most of us would rather be in Hawaii. We finished tops in this poll in 2008. (SEE POLL)

Dig into the numbers and you’ll see we scored highest in the Work Environment category based on “job satisfaction, ability to use one’s strengths at work, supervisor’s treatment and cultivation of an open and trusting work environment.”

I’ve been saying it for years: Utah is the best place to live, work and play.

More and more, we have the numbers to prove it.

Forbes ranks Utah commute among nation’s swiftest

Thursday, February 18th, 2010


Salt Lake City received some high praise today from Forbes magazine:

“If you live in Salt Lake City, Utah, Buffalo, N.Y., or Rochester, N.Y., your ride to work is probably the smoothest of any big city in the country. Residents of Tampa, Fla., Detroit, Mich. and Atlanta, Ga., on the other hand, endure the most grueling slog to work.”

The commute to and from SLC was ranked tops in the nation, thanks in large part to our first-rate mass transit system. Forbes factored in travel time, road congestion and travel delays for the 60 largest Metropolitan Statistical Areas in the U.S.

READ FULL ARTICLE