Sen. Hatch addresses Capitol Club

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

Senator Hatch addresses Capitol Club from Salt Lake Chamber on Vimeo.

During the Salt Lake Chamber Capitol Club meeting this morning, special guest U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch announced that legislation he is sponsoring has added four influential endorsements. The American Job Protection Act, a proposed repeal of the employer mandate portions of the recently-passed $2.6 trillion health law is supported by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), the National Association of Wholesalers (NAW), and the National Retail Federation (NRF).

“Our economy remains fragile and our job creators won’t start hiring, because of the Obama Administration’s costly, job-killing agenda,” said Hatch. “Business owners in Utah and across the country have told me that the $2.6 trillion health law and its punitive employer mandate is a significant reason they aren’t putting more Americans back to work. That’s exactly why the employer mandate needs to be repealed. I’m glad these groups are joining me in this fight.”

Sen. Hatch discussed the legislation and took questions from members of the Capitol Club. Following the meeting he sat down to discuss a number of topics including immigration, exports and predictions for the upcoming midterm elections.

WBC Small Business Spotlight – Laurie’s Buffalo Gourmet

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

If you’re in the mood for the perfect tortilla chip dunked in organic salsa that causes a flavor explosion in your mouth, look no further. Laurie’s Buffalo Gourmet is that perfect complement to a chilly margarita or a late night savory snack on the couch.

Owned and operated by the Seron family, Laurie’s Buffalo Gourmet began as a Utah-based small business over a decade ago. Now this family treat has gone far from its roots and serves many retailers across the U.S., China, and Canada.

Getting into the chip business…

With its humble beginnings as a snack that the Serons made up for social gatherings the tortilla chips slowly transformed into a business idea.
“My husband suggested we start making and selling our chips so that a larger audience could enjoy this family favorite,” Laurie says.

The Seron family moved from California more than 16 years ago and settled down in Utah. Laurie Seron, after whom the chips are named, was passionate about philanthropy and began as a volunteer for causes like homelessness and women’s empowerment. A bridge in Africa and a few other key projects later, Laurie decided she would use her business prowess to fulfill her charitable objectives.

“My ultimate dream and ambition was to launch a business and build it to a point when we can provide microfinance for projects that change the lives of women,” Laurie says.

Making and delivering chips…

Owing to health department regulations, the Seron family started preparing their chips by renting fryers at a local hamburger joint. For close to two years, each night from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m., the family fried, seasoned, bagged and stocked tortilla chips. In the wee hours of the morning, the family loaded the chips into their vans and Laurie went around town delivering her freshly produced gourmet chips to specialty food stores around Salt Lake City.

The first store to start stocking Laurie’s Buffalo Gourmet was ‘The Store’ which was one of the frontrunners in the specialty food segment. The idea to have the word ‘Buffalo’ in the name came from a chance family chat when one of Laurie’s children casually threw the idea out. The idea made everyone chuckle but it ultimately caught on as something symbolic of the Wild West.

A feature on the then popular Gabby Gourmet show coupled with the buzz created by the 2002 Salt Lake Olympics, Laurie’s chips escalated in popularity. But the manual kneading, frying, seasoning, and packaging couldn’t keep up with the soaring demand for the gourmet chips.

Around that time, the Seron family took the hardest decision in the history of their small business. They decided to completely automate the processes and outsource the operations to a local restaurateur. In retrospect Laurie said it may have been the hardest business decision but was definitely a wise one considering the growing popularity of the product.

The Buffalo Gourmet difference…

Over only a few years, Laurie’s Buffalo Gourmet has grown to great new heights. They now have a presence in some big name grocery stores like Harmon’s but have also been solicited constantly by giant retailers like Walmart. The Seron family has had to deal with difficult strategic decisions on how to expand. Being a specialty gourmet product the family is cautious about not diluting the brand image and spreading themselves too thin.

“Our efforts to provide the highest quality home-made product to the vast health needs of a growing natural marketplace will remain our top priority as long as there are those who demand distinguished flavor and only all natural ingredients in a healthy snack food,” says Laurie.

Laurie’s Buffalo Gourmet consists of gourmet tortilla chips in a variety of flavors including – premium white corn, roasted sesame, sundried tomato and basil, chipotle, black bean and garlic. Their salsas are available in tantalizing flavors like fire roasted pueblo chile, tomatillo and fire roasted salsa, fire hot salsa with habanero peppers, and black bean and corn salsa.

The Buffalo gourmet difference is that all their chips and salsas are made with real, whole and natural ingredients. The company has developed an innovative process called Flavor Fusion. Fresh ingredients like herbs, spices, and corn are combined to create wholesome gourmet tortilla chips, making the product healthier and containing no artificial flavors and colors.

Looking ahead…

The company is staying with the times and expanding their product line into varieties like multigrain, quinoa etc. There are also ideas of introducing all natural snack mixes and beverages under the Buffalo Gourmet umbrella. The focus at the moment is to strengthen the brand name and grow strategically.

Laurie is the brand’s strongest ambassador and actively recruits retail opportunities and is present at food shows across the country.

“The best thing about owning your own business, despite the crazy hours, is the vision,” says Laurie.

Laurie is always cognizant about the motives that led her to start her own business. She dedicates every opportunity she gets to get involved in community activities and philanthropy.

Her advice for up and coming businesses is, “to make sure that you have a solid foundation built at the beginning. Don’t be in a rush. Utilize the resources in the community that are there for you to use.”

For more information, visit:
Laurie’s Buffalo Gourmet

Downtown Farmers Market recognized by bon appetit magazine

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

The Downtown Farmers Market has received another national accolade and is recognized in the September 2010 issue of bon appetit magazine. Perennial favorites Grandaddy Dean’s BBQ pulled pork, Mama Linda’s chile verde, and wheatgrass from Sunbridge Growers were featured as top ten lunches at Farmers Markets around the nation.

“Congratulations to our prepared food vendors for being praised for their delicious and eclectic fare,” said Kim Angeli-Selin, market manager. “Our market ranks side-by-side with markets in famous foodie cities like San Francisco, New York, New Orleans, Miami and more. Bon appetit!”

During the harvest season the Farmers Market will be abundant with berries, cucumbers, eggplant, peaches, heirloom tomatoes, melons, peppers, sweet corn, squash, pumpkin, cabbage, onions, green beans, potatoes and much more.

The Downtown Farmers Market is open Saturday mornings from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., June 12-Oct. 18 and Tuesday evenings Aug. 3-Oct. 14. The market offers a unique variety of fresh, local flavors.

U.S. Ambassador to United Arab Emirates visits Chamber

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

U.S. Ambassador to the U.A.E. visits Chamber from Salt Lake Chamber on Vimeo.

The Salt Lake Chamber hosted the U.S. Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, Richard Olson. He sat down with Lew Cramer to discuss the export opportunities between the U.A.E. and Utah businesses.

Ambassador Olson has been awarded the State Department’s Superior Honor Award three times and the Secretary of Defense’s Exceptional Civilian Service Award for his service in Iraq. He is married to Foreign Service Officer Deborah Jones, currently the U.S. Ambassador to Kuwait, who is a graduate of Brigham Young University.

Relationships play important role in business advocacy

Friday, August 20th, 2010

Business leaders have a strong voice with elected officials in both the executive and legislative branches, and we play an important role in crafting public policy that strengthens business and the local economy.

The relationships our business leaders develop with Utah’s federal delegation are just as important as those they build with members of the State Legislature. Next month, the Chamber will visit Washington, D.C. to meet with members of our senators and congressman to give their input on issues relevant to Utah’s economy.

But his visit is more than just a meet-and-greet. We’ve organized four policy tracks to help Chamber members do a “deep-dive” on issues including health reform, energy, international business and downtown development.

The trip is scheduled for September 12-15. We know that time is very valuable so we’ve built in time during the schedule foryou to take care of matters with the home office and to see the sites in the Nation’s Capital if you so desire.

This is a great opportunity for you to get to know our federal delegation, or to get to know them better and—perhaps more importantly—to help them understand the issues affecting your business.

Whether this is your first trip with the Chamber to Washignton, D.C. or if you’ve been several times before, I invite you to join us. For pricing information or to register for the trip, CLICK HERE.

Closer Look: Public Safety Building and Emergency Operation Center

Thursday, August 19th, 2010

Closer Look: Public Safety Building and Emergency Operation Center from Salt Lake Chamber on Vimeo.

Last November, voters approved a $125 million general obligation bond to finance both the Public Safety Building and an Emergency Operation Center in Salt Lake City.

Recently, the public got its first look at a proposed concept for the facility and David Hart, vice president and regional manager of MOCA Systems is the project manager sat down to give us a closer look at the site selection, the conceptual design and the balance between functionality and feng shui.

To comment on the conceptual design CLICK HERE.

Signs of improvement all around

Friday, August 13th, 2010

All around us we’re starting to see signs that the economy is on the upswing and that Utah will be the state to lead the nation out of the Great Recession.

Just this week, Governor Herbert told an audience in Cedar City that, “Utah is back!” I couldn’t agree more.

The governor was referring specifically to the fact that we, as a state, now have two consecutive months of job growth. Our unemployment number, although higher than anyone would like, has remained below the national figure as the nation made its way through the longest, deepest and widest economic downturn since the Great Depression.

This year alone, downtown Salt Lake City has seen more than 20 storefront businesses open in the Central Business District. That’s good news on paper and has contributed to the very real energy in our dynamic urban center.

Those numbers don’t include a number of businesses that have relocated to downtown, and they don’t include some of the big name businesses that have expanded or announced plans to grow in Utah.

The list is impressive–particularly for the tech-savvy: Adobe, Twitter (you can follow the Chamber, by the way at @saltlakechamber) and EA Sport, which expanded and moved downtown, just to name a few.

I like to say that success builds upon success. Momentum is a great thing to have on your side. In Utah we have it and we’ll continue to build on it as we build the nation’s top economy.

New businesses continue to open in downtown Salt Lake City

Thursday, August 12th, 2010

More than 20 storefront businesses have opened in the Central Business District since January 2010, proof that the downtown community is continuing to progress and evolve as a more dynamic urban center.

“The influx of new businesses in 2010 puts us on track to hit about the same number as last year.” said Jason Mathis, executive director of the Downtown Alliance. “This doesn’t include many corporations relocating downtown like EA Sports or Goldman Sachs whose employees will significantly increase vibrancy on city streets. It is great to see so many entrepreneurs and professionals embrace our downtown.”

Businesses recently opened in the city center include:

  • Blonde Grizzly (15 East 400 South): art gallery and art-related retail shop
  • Pepper’s (14 West 300 South): pita sandwiches and salads
  • Eborn Books (175 West 200 South, suite1003): new, used, rare books and the world’s largest supplier of Mormon titles
  • TRAX Express (300 South 600 West): concessions kiosk at the Central Station
  • Q Clothing (213 East Broadway): clothing and accessories (moved from 900 east and 1300 south)
  • DP Cheesesteaks (83 East 300 South): authentic philly cheesesteaks
  • Subway (City Creek food court, 28 South State Street): sandwiches and salads
  • Roxberry (City Creek food court, 28 South State Street): smoothies, juice and frozen yogurt
  • Blue Lemon Restaurant (45 West South Temple): fresh, healthy and local cuisine
  • Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse (275 South West Temple): fine dining
  • Deseret Book (20 East South Temple): flagship bookstore
  • Everest Tibetan Restaurant (123 East 200 South): Tibetan food
  • The Artful Cup (61 West 100): coffee shop connected to Utah Artist Hands
  • Bocata (City Creek food court, 28 South State Street): sandwiches by Settebello owner Michael Brooks
  • Taste of Red Iguana (City Creek food court, 28 South State Street): Mexican cuisine and the third location for this local favorite
  • Smile Café (175 East 400 South): Asian and American cuisine
  • Suki Hana (City Creek food court, 28 South State Street): Japanese cuisine
  • Ekami Thai Curry (336 West 300 South): Thai cuisine
  • Copper Onion (111 East Broadway): American cuisine
  • Brent Godfrey Studio (240 East 200 South): photography studio

Panel discussion on ‘Wellness in the Workplace’

Thursday, August 12th, 2010

Workplace flexibility has become a compelling issue in corporate America. Business leaders are increasingly recognizing the positive effects of workplace flexibility on attracting and retaining employees, reducing turnover and absenteeism, improving employee health and well-being and in turn the impact it has on a company’ bottom line.

Within the umbrella of workplace flexibility, employee wellness is considered a potential high return on investment for employers, primarily due to rising health care costs.

As part of our Workplace Flexibility Initiative, the Salt Lake Chamber Women’s Business Center will host a panel discussion with local leaders and executives on ‘Wellness in the Workplace’. The event is scheduled for Wednesday, August 18 from noon to 1 p.m. at the Salt Lake Chamber Building.

The panelists for the event include Scott Barlow from Central Utah Clinic, Tim Butler from Select Health, Rita Offrett from American Express and Rebecca Fietkau from ARUP Laboratories. Panelists will discuss health and wellness programs and strategies available to reduce injuries, health care costs and long-term disability.

The discussion will make a business case for workplace wellness as well as provide a toolkit for managers to implement simple initiatives in their respective organizations.


To the Nation’s Capital

Monday, August 9th, 2010

To the Nation’s Capital from Salt Lake Chamber on Vimeo.

As Utah’s business leader, the Salt Lake Chamber stands as the voice of business, and next month a group of business will visit the Nation’s Capital to make their voice heard on issues that affect the business community.

Utah’s federal delegation and other appointed officials want to understand the opinions of Utah business leaders and this trip is your opportunity to weigh in on the key issues.

Wesley Smith, director of public policy for the Salt Lake Chamber joins us to discuss the trip and what we hope to accomplish.