Exports mean jobs

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

Utah’s Record Exports from Salt Lake Chamber on Vimeo.

While other sectors of the Utah economy have faced significant challenges over the past two years, exports have grown. For the past two years, merchandise exports have been at record levels–not too shabby for a land-locked state.

Last year Utah was the only state in the nation to see an increase in exports and, as World Trade Center Utah President and CEO Lew Cramer tell us, exports mean jobs.

Taking our issues to the nation’s capital

Saturday, July 24th, 2010

I was honored to participate in the governor’s Immigration Summit at the State Capitol last week. More than anything, it was important to bring together so many people, with diverse views on, and similar passion for, the issue. Bringing these parties together, where most expressed a desire for a civil debate as we move forward, was an outcome worthy of applause.

When we realize that each argument—from either side and in the middle—has value. When we choose to respect those who disagree with us, we can work together to find a solution. The truth is, we’re all in this together and we ultimately have one common goal: to make Utah better.

For over two years, the Chamber has endorsed an employer-sponsored work program. Moving forward we will continue to push for a solution from the federal government. We also need to understand that any action by the state on the immigration issue will have an effect on our economy. Utah deserves a solution that is uniquely suited to this one-of-a kind state.

Members of our federal delegation want to understand the position of the business community on immigration as well as the other issues. To help make that happen, we’re taking a group of business leaders to the nation’s capital from September 12-15.

I encourage you to join us as we meet with members of our delegation and get valuable insight in four policy tracks including energy, health care, international business and technology.

You can find more information on the trip, including special airfare offers by clicking here.

O Pioneers!

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

Tens of thousands will gather in downtown streets this Saturday for the annual Days of ’47 Parade – the culmination of Utah’s annual founder’s day celebration. 44 percent of Utahns have attended the Days of ’47 Parade at some point.  For some, the parade is the only face-to-face encounter with the state’s urban center. We welcome parade goers and hope they take some time to explore the evolution of our rising capital city.

The parade theme Pioneer Spirit – Then and Now is not an accidental choice. There is a clear connection that celebrates Utah’s pioneering spirit and our rising downtown. The spirit of entrepreneurship, optimism, willingness to sacrifice, and a hope for a better future that drove western pioneers is the same spirit that fuels our downtown’s rebirth. It is the same spirit that drives modern-day pioneers who continue to come to our community from other states and countries.

To celebrate our shared urban history, the Downtown Alliance in cooperation with our partners at City Creek, will sponsor a Downtown Rising float in the big parade. The float Downtown Rising: Then and Now documents the efforts by thousands of diverse people over many years to build a dynamic downtown community as the regional center for culture, commerce and entertainment.

The float also includes a nod to Utah’s pioneering heritage–reinvigorated every week at the Downtown Farmers Market, open in historic Pioneer Park on July 24th from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. It is hard to think of a more apt way to celebrate pioneer spirit than buying fresh Utah produce, hand-made cheese and locally crafted breads in an outdoor market on the site of the first encampment of Mormon pioneers in the Salt Lake Valley.

Pioneer Park was among our city’s most vulnerable neighborhoods when the Farmers Market opened in 1992. A high crime rate and a concentration of nearby social services created a unique set of challenges. Over the past 18 years several factors have contributed to the growing vibrancy. The weekly market has been an important development tool, injecting a spirit of entrepreneurship and hope. New additions to the park’s programming like the Pioneer Park Picture Show and Twilight Concerts continue this positive momentum.

We are delighted to welcome thousands of people to our rising downtown this weekend, as we celebrate pioneers—then and now—through a venerable parade and Farmers Market. The spirit of optimism and a willingness to sacrifice for the future continues to inspire and propel modern-day pioneers today.

WBC Small Business Spotlight – Aunt Fannies Bloomers

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

Making the world a happier place – one flower arrangement at a time.

Claude Monet once remarked, “I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers.”

Perhaps that’s also why Lulu Luna decided she wanted to be a florist. Luna is the owner of Aunt Fannies Bloomers (834 E 3300 S), a full-service floral boutique in Salt Lake City.

“Flowers are such an emotional thing,” said Luna. “When words are just not enough, flowers just represent that unique moment.”

Over a decade ago, when Luna moved to Salt Lake City from the Golden City, she was looking for a way to channel her artistic spirit. With a background in interior décor and faux finishing, Luna knew she wanted to pursue her love for painting.

“My passion has always been to create something,” said Luna. ” Whether it’s a painting or an interior design, my hope is that someone will enjoy and feel happy about.”

What first began as a small part-time job in a neighborhood florist shop soon became Luna’s source of happiness and solace. She began on the frontlines processing and delivering flowers, taking phone orders and washing flower buckets. Over the course of eight years as a part-time employee at Aunt Fannies, Luna also worked at Snowbird resort restaurant cooking and supervising staff.

About four years ago, when the original owners of Aunt Fannies announced it was time for them to retire, Luna decided to buy the business and make it her own. Aunt Fannies has ever since been known for delivering ‘quality products with personal touch’.

“There are precious moments in everyone’s lives; whether it’s a wedding, graduation, saying ‘I love you’ or respecting the departed at funerals; flowers are an indispensible part of those moments,” said Luna.

Being a hands-on person with a childlike curiosity made Luna experiment with colors, textures and fragrances. Her strength lies in designing exclusive flower arrangements for all occasions keeping the recipients in mind. Her pieces are never generic or commonplace. With her clients’ needs at the core of her projects, Luna pours her heart and soul into every arrangement and exceeds client expectations.

“The best part of being in this business is the good feeling that comes from a job well done,” said Luna. “When a bride sees the flowers for her wedding and is overcome with happiness or a flower arrangement for a mother grieving the death of her son – those moments are just priceless and that’s what fuels me.”

A divine scent of fresh flowers fills the air in Luna’s boutique. Her black and white pit-bull, Page, is the official greeter and bolts to the front door to give visitors a friendly lick. The simple layout of her store has shelves with eclectic gifts and souvenirs. Now amidst restructuring and rethinking her business’ vision, Luna is looking at expanding her product line to include antiques, home décor and furniture.

“With the economy the way it is right now, there is a push to reuse and recycle,” said Luna. “This new arm of my business will appeal to people who are looking to stretch their dollar but also invest in quality furniture and home décor.”

Adaptability and creativity have been Luna’s best friends through the years. With the state of the economy, new expansion plans and reorganization, Luna is banking on her resilience to get past hard times.

“I’ve done so much with so little that it doesn’t worry me anymore,” said Luna. “My goal is to continue making people happy with my creations while running a tight and efficient business.”

Contact Information: Lulu Luna, Owner
Aunt Fannies Bloomers
834 E 3300 S
Salt Lake City, UT 84106
Ph: 801-487-2200
Email: bloomgirl1@hotmail.com
Website: www.auntfannies.biz

These are a few of Lulu’s favorite things – orchids, scabiosa pod, bear grass and lilies

Chamber proposes innovative immigration reform strategy that protects public, sustains economy

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

The Salt Lake Chamber proposed an innovative state immigration policy combining the need for federal action with supportive state action that protects the public and sustains the economy. Chamber President and CEO Lane Beattie presented the program today at the governor’s immigration roundtable at the State Capitol.

The Chamber’s proposal includes a redoubling of advocacy efforts with the federal government to increase visas and secure borders, crack down on serious crime and other abuses, and the enactment of an employer-sponsored work program.

Utah is not a border state. Immigration affects us differently than other states, particularly those with an international border. The Chamber supports a solution that is unique to Utah and reflects our culture as a welcoming, friendly and international community.

Ultimately, immigration and border security are federal issues that require federal policy and enforcement. We encourage Congress to enact comprehensive reform and we expect our federal delegation to address the issue in a manner than reflects the values of our state.

The manner in which Utah resolves the immigration issue will have far-reaching effects on our state economy—for better or worse. Carefully crafted immigration policy can strengthen our state economy. For two years the Chamber has supported an employer-sponsored worker program that addresses many of the issues of concern. A summary of the program is available at www.slchamber.com.

The Chamber applauds Governor Gary Herbert for bringing together interested groups to discuss the future of immigration policy in Utah. The parties that participated passionately seek a solution and each emphasizes an important element of future state policy. As the debate progresses, we urge a civil and constructive discourse.

The Chamber Proposal


Our federal government has failed to secure our national borders and support our economy through comprehensive immigration reform. In the absence of federal action, leading states are forced to enact policies that serve the public interest. Until we have a federal solution, we recommend a three-pronged strategy that will advantage Utah:

1.)   Demand federal action – Insist upon urgent federal action to increase the number of employment-based visas and secure our national borders.

2.)   Crack down on serious crime and other abuses – Deport individuals who commit serious crimes, pose a threat to public health or fail to contribute to a better community.

3.)   Protect economic interests – Enact an employer-sponsored work program with protective requirements.

Our vision

Utah has a long-standing reputation as a welcoming, family-oriented and international state. We hosted the world in 2002 and showed the greatness of our people and our ability to excel. Today we face an economic and civic imperative to pass immigration legislation that builds upon this legacy of internationalism, good will, strong families and human progress. We support innovative state immigration reform legislation that responds to public concerns about our public safety and welcomes well-intentioned, hard-working, community-enhancing immigrants who contribute to our economy.

Our strategy

We support a three-pronged strategy:

#1 Demand federal action

The U.S. Congress has let us down. We must redouble our advocacy efforts to achieve an increase in the number of employment-based visas and secure our national borders. We support efforts to substantially increase the number of border patrol personnel, to enhance border surveillance, and to enact security safeguards vital to our homeland security. We will actively lobby and speak out on the need for comprehensive federal immigration reform.

#2 Crack down on serious crime and other abuses

We support enforcement efforts to deport undocumented individuals who commit serious crimes, pose a threat to public health or fail to contribute to a better community. We favor provisions that impose strict criminal penalties on illegal immigrants who participate in gang activities and felony crimes. Provisions should include increased penalties, increased bond amounts, and expedited deportation.

#3 Protect our economic interests

We support enactment of an employer-sponsored work program. This program will provide a two-year, renewable guest worker authorization for undocumented workers currently residing in Utah who agree to abide by the requirements of the program.  Residency requirements and vigorous enforcement will prevent undocumented individuals from outside the state from being attracted to Utah.  The program includes these protective requirements:

Qualified positions

Whenever feasible, Utah’s law will utilize the existing federal framework to avoid unnecessary duplication and additional costs.  We propose that current federal notice requirements and regulations be applied to the Utah Employer-Sponsored Work Program.  Enrolled workers can only fill jobs that cannot be filled by citizens. Immigrant students attending institutions of higher education in Utah who find gainful employment in Utah in qualified positions would also be eligible as guest workers under this program.

Qualified individuals

The Utah Employer-Sponsored Work Program would require that potential workers meet the following criteria as administered by the State of Utah, under the oversight of the governor’s office.

  • Registration as a worker: Applicants must register by providing relevant contact data to the State of Utah.  This data must be updated if any changes are made.  Failure to properly update this information will be grounds for revocation of worker status.
  • Background check: Applicants must submit to a criminal background check. If individuals have a criminal history that includes any felony or other serious criminal behavior, that individual will not be eligible for this program.
  • Medical exam/health check: Applicants must undergo a health examination to screen for communicable diseases. This is the same examination currently required for federal permanent residence status.
  • 10% withholding: Applicant must agree to have 10% of their earnings withheld as a guarantee to uphold their contract with the state. This withholding will be taken out by the Utah State Tax Commission and invested in an interest bearing trust fund. This withholding will be available to guest workers after they complete their permit.
  • Health insurance: All guest workers must be enrolled in a health insurance program that provides essential and basic health care.  Employers may facilitate an applicant’s meeting this requirement by providing insurance for the employee.
  • Auto insurance: Applicants must show proof of valid, no-fault auto insurance.  Expired insurance will be grounds for revocation of guest worker status.

Chart Toppers

Friday, July 16th, 2010

This past week Utah found itself atop two more lists—it’s becoming a common occurrence. More and more, the national media is looking at Utah as a great place to live and to do business.

The financial news network CNBC released its annual ranking of top states for business and Utah made the top ten scoring particularly high in quality of life and for our young, well-educated workforce. The Chamber has been working to strengthen the state’s education performance, recognizing the value of a first-class workforce.

Parenting magazine also ranks Salt Lake City as one of the “Best Cities for the Economy 2010.” Our ranking on this list was boosted by our low commute time and unemployment rate along with our strong property values.

Utah is a special place and something very special is happening here. Other are taking notice and that’s why we find ourselves at the top of the list when it comes to great places to live.

Utah Back to Work

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

Utah Back to Work from Salt Lake Chamber on Vimeo.

This past legislative session the Salt Lake Chamber supported a program designed to get unemployed Utahns back to work and to help Utah businesses expand.

The Utah Back to Work program is now being implemented by the Utah Department of Workforce Services and Bill Starks, the unemployment insurance director with the Utah Department of Workforce Services sat down to give us some insight.

For more information on the Utah Back to Work program click here.

WBC Small Business Spotlight: Next Level Consulting

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

A flair for troubleshooting and creatively solving problems finally landed Rick Hepner in the business that was closest to his heart – Small Business Consulting.

Hepner is the founder and CEO of Next Level Consulting, an independent firm in Salt Lake City dedicated to providing owners and managers with unique solutions to business challenges.

“Small business owners often start their businesses because they are passionate, risk embracing people,” said Hepner. “But before they know it, they are embroiled in the everyday challenges of running a business.”

Rick Hepner

The idea to start a consulting company was born from years of working in a variety of industries. After more than four decades in areas such as construction, television production, media sales, computers and telecommunications, Hepner knew he could convert his vast experience into a service for small businesses.

“I understood the nuts and bolts of the production side, the challenges in marketing and advertising and finally sales and the bottom line,” said Hepner. “Everything added up and I knew the time was right for me to be self-employed.”

Next Level Consulting has been in operation for over two and a half years. Hepner provides a whole suite of services from management, operations and marketing to financial services and strategy.

“My approach is to work collaboratively with my clients to understand and monitor their progress,” said Hepner. “Whether your business is well-established, start-up, or turnaround, Next Level will provide you with a comprehensive plan to take it to the next level.”

Hepner certainly doesn’t mince words while talking about his philosophy. His unique selling proposition is the ability to personalize his services to the needs, size and industries that his clients belong to. His mission is to provide an in-depth evaluation of every client’s situation and stand by them as their organizations grow and evolve.

Avoiding the mass market, cookie-cutter approach to solving his client’s needs has helped Hepner build a reputation for being careful, honest and thorough. No wonder a bulk of his clientele comes from referrals and repeat visits.
As for owning a business himself, Hepner said that the best thing is the independence. But the flipside of freedom is responsibility, he said.

Hepner is also passionate about learning and continuous improvement. His curious and busy personality has him on the board of Vest Pocket Business Coalition, an association of local business owners aiming to protect the diversity of neighborhood businesses in Salt Lake City. He is also a member of the professional chapter of Net Impact Salt Lake City.

When he’s not riding his 1981 BMW motorcycle, Hepner works his creative juices in dabbling with photography, gardening and cooking.

To learn more about Next Level Consulting and all the services offered, visit: http://nextlevelconsulting.biz

Contact Information:
Rick Hepner
Founder and CEO
Phone: 801-573-4546
Email: info@nextlevelconsulting.biz

CNBC ranks Utah among top states for business

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

CNBC has released its ranking of top states for business and Utah is on the list.

Utah actually ties with Minnesota in the 8th spot but ranked 5th in quality of life and 7th in both workforce and the cost of doing business.

You can see the results for all 50 states, just click here.

Parenting magazine names SLC among “Best Cities for the Economy 2010″

Monday, July 12th, 2010

courtesy skyguy414/wikimedia

Salt Lake City has been named by Parenting magazine as one of the “Best Cities for the Economy 2010.” Utah’s capital was officially ranked 4th on the list behind  Little Rock, Ark., Billings, Mont. and Sioux Falls, S.D.

The magazine ranked the spots that have the most robust economies, based on “commute times, unemployment rates, property values and more.”

To see what Parenting magazine has to say about SLC click here. The article is also in the issue on news stands now.