Strong recruiting key for football, economy

Friday, October 29th, 2010

AUDIO: Salt Lake Chamber Business Minute

The same publication that predicted Utah would lead the nation out of the Great Recession has placed our state atop the list of “The Best States for Business and Careers.”

Forbes sites Utah’s growing economy, job growth, low corporate taxes, low energy costs and a highly educated workforce as reasons for the coveted top ranking.

This ranking takes into account performance over the past five years. It doesn’t just show that we’ve weathered the storm better than the rest of the nation, it shows that we have been good for a long time.

And that is very attractive to businesses looking at moving or expanding in our state, and for businesses that are already here.

Utah’s ranking plays an important role in the ongoing economic development of the state. Over the past year many businesses have chosen to expand in or relocate to Utah.

Just like a good college football coach uses bowl victories and national exposure to recruit better players, we use these rankings to recruit businesses that economically strengthen our state.

The Forbes ranking also tells our local businesses that Utah is on the right path. If they have been reluctant to expand or to hire, this helps show them that now may be the time to take that step.

AUDIO: Salt Lake Chamber Business Minute

Positive signs for Utah’s economy

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

Positive signs for Utah economy from Salt Lake Chamber on Vimeo.

Just a few weeks into the fourth quarter of 2010, the Utah Economy finds itself in an interesting position. There are a number of areas in which the Utah is a leader in the nation… for example the state unemployment number is well below the national average, we’ve seen growth over the past year and earlier this month Forbes named us tops in business and careers.

On the other hand, over 100 thousand Utahns are still out of work and while economists have declared the Great Recession officially over, its effects are still felt by many.

Natalie Gochnour, chief economist at the Salt Lake Chamber, joins us to talk about economic tailwinds and headwinds and what the future holds.

RanLife Home Loans wins Paint the Town Red contest

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

Downtown Salt Lake City is “Home of the Utes” and downtown businesses painted the town red over the last month by decorating their business or storefront. The contest was sponsored by the Downtown Alliance and University of Utah Athletics to show support for the U or U football team and helps brand Salt Lake City as a university town by creating greater links between the downtown business community and Utah’s flagship state university.

Ran Life Home Loans (268 W. 400 South) won first place, Mid City Salon (46 W. Broadway) took second and Van Boerum & Frank (330 S. 300 East) received third place. Honorable mentions were given to Lumpy’s Sports Bar, Murphy’s Bar & Grill and Especially For You. Judges for the contest were Swoop, Ute Cheerleaders and the Crimson Line Dance Team. Awards will be presented during halftime of the Utah vs. TCU football game on November 6.

“We were so excited to have the opportunity to participate in Paint the Town Red,” said Adam Hamilton, vice president of RanLife Home Loans. “Out of all of the community activities we participate in this has definitely been one of our favorites. All of our employees were involved, doing everything from painting the building and decorating offices to blowing up balloons. Ranlife is full of Ute spirit!”

Grand prize is $2000 cash, six tickets to the Utah vs. TCU football game, two lower bowl tickets for each employee to a University of Utah men’s basketball game, a 1st place trophy, a signed and framed canvas print of Rice Eccles Stadium and 10 Ute baseball caps in either red or white.

Second prize is $1000 cash, 4 tickets to the Utah vs. TCU game, second place trophy and 10 Ute baseball caps in either red or white.

Third prize is $500 cash, 4 tickets to the Utah vs. TCU game, 3rd place trophy and 10 Ute baseball caps in either red or white.

All participants receive 10 lower bowl men’s basketball tickets.

“All of us involved with Utah athletics take a great deal of pride in our city and by declaring downtown as the ‘Home of the Utes,’ we feel like the city is proud of us as well,” said Dr. Chris Hill, athletic director at the University of Utah. “It is a great partnership and one that continues to get stronger every year. The ‘Paint the Town Red’ theme gives downtown a fun college-town atmosphere and tells visitors that the University of Utah is Salt Lake City’s ‘team.”

Other businesses that participated were: Squatters, Retro Rose, J. Wong’s, Iggy’s Sports Grill, HKS Architects, Metropolitan, SLCVB, Trade Secret, Bayleaf Café, America First Credit Union and Green Pig Pub.

Topping some lists on a Monday morning

Monday, October 25th, 2010

If you’ve been paying attention you know Utah has found itself atop a few lists of late–including the prestigious Forbes list of “Top States for Businesses and Careers.”

This morning, we find ourselves on two additional lists. Forbes has Utah listed among the nation’s fastest growing states.

“Americans may not be headed to small towns or back to the farms, but they are migrating to smaller cities. Over the past decade, the biggest migration of Americans has been to cities with between 100,000 and 1 million residents,” writes Forbes. The publicationalso points to a supply of skilled workers and an influx of high tech companies, many moving from California, as a reason for the high ranking.

Utah also ranks sixth among top performing states according to study by 24/7 Wall St, which looked at hundreds of data sets, ranging from debt-rating agency reports to violent crime rates, unemployment trends, and median income. The report points to Utah’s AAA bond rating and job creation as reasons for the ranking which you can read here.

Chamber Recognizes Utah Employers for Workplace Flexibility

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

Fourteen local organizations received the Alfred P. Sloan Award for Business Excellence in Workplace Flexibility at the Work-Life Harmony Conference. The awards, presented locally by the Salt Lake Chamber Women’s Business Center, recognize organizations that strive to find new ways to make work, work.

Local recipients of the 2010 Alfred P. Sloan Award for Business Excellence in Workplace Flexibility are:

  • 1-800 CONTACTS, inc.
  • Café Rio Mexican Grill
  • Christopherson Business Travel
  • CRSA
  • Deloitte
  • Employer Solutions Group
  • Futura Industries
  • Intermountain Financial Group, LLC
  • Intermountain Healthcare
  • McKinnon-Mulherin, Inc.
  • Nelson Labs, Inc.
  • Software Technology Group
  • Utah Food Services
  • United Way of Salt Lake (honorable mention)

“Businesses know how important it is to keep quality employees and that often means a break from the traditional workday,” said Lane Beattie, president and CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber. “These organizations have shown that implementing workplace flexibility increases effectiveness and yields positive business results, and we’re proud to recognize their willingness to work with their employees.”

Gov. Gary Herbert presented the awards after lauding the state’s efforts to allow flexibility. Utah adopted a four-day workweek when he was Lt. Governor. The governor shared statistics from a survey showing state employees like the Work 4 Utah program and that productivity has improved in many departments.

“I am not a fan of one-size-fits-all solutions. I believe we need flexibility in many things, including employment, whether it’s at the private, local or state level,” said the governor. “In Utah state government, for example, we have offered our employees options that range from telecommuting for some employees to a four-day workweek for thousands of others. Utah is leading the nation in this effort. We’ve also made many state services available online to help our customers, the citizens, find flexibility in their interaction with state government.”

Implementing flexibility in the workplace provides benefit to both the organization and the employee.

“We’ve found that being flexible has increased the level of employee engagement and it increases productivity,” said Brad Flitton, human resources manger at Intermountain Healthcare. “It’s a way to show we care about them, because we do.”

Sherri Robbins has worked at Nelson Labs for over a decade—it’s where she met her husband. The two now have four children and she credits her employer’s flexibility plan for her ability to balance two important roles in her life.

“I get the best of both worlds,” said Robbins. “I get to achieve my career goals and also get to be in my role as a mother. I feel very lucky to have benefitted from the flexibility Nelson Labs has provided me.”

The Alfred P. Sloan Award for Business Excellence in Workplace Flexibility is presented locally by the Salt Lake Chamber at the Work-Life Harmony luncheon, scheduled for 11 a.m. October 20, 2010 at the Little America Hotel in Salt Lake City.

The Alfred P. Sloan Award for Business Excellence in Workplace Flexibility are part of the When Work Works project, an ongoing initiative of Families and Work Institute, the Institute for a Competitive Workforce and the Twiga Foundation. These partner organizations provide research, resources and recognition to employers nationwide.  The project shares the results of research on creating effective and flexible workplaces that meet the needs of the 21st century.

Each of the 2010 Sloan Award winners will also be recognized nationally and featured in next year’s edition of the Guide to Bold New Ideas for Making Work Work, published by Families and Work Institute.

Waiting for Superman? Not in Utah

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

Business leaders and educators discussed the future of education in Utah following a special screening of the documentary, “Waiting for Superman,” which chronicles the efforts of five public school students as they make their way through some of the worst-performing schools in the nation.

The Salt Lake Chamber partnered with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s National Chamber Foundation, which is taking the film to 12 cities across the country.

“As a business community we look at education as more than a public service, it’s an economic development issue,” said Lane Beattie, president and CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber. “We are committed to working with education leaders and elected officials to ensure we benefit from a well-educated workforce for decades to come.”

“This movie illustrates in poignant terms a broken public education system and the stories of the children that suffer the consequences of its inadequacies,” said Alfonso Martinez-Fonts, fellow, U.S. Chamber of Commerce.  “This isn’t just a teaching problem, or a union problem, or a parenting problem—this is an American problem.  And the onus is on all us of to decide if we can put our differences aside for the sake of the children so they can have the chance to be the next generation of thinkers, innovators, and leaders.”

The film depicts an underfunded, inefficient and failing system that is only getting worse. During the discussion, panelists were quick to point out that Utah’s situation doesn’t mirror the examples in “Waiting for Superman.”

“Is it Utah today? No it’s not,” said Mark Bouchard, sr. managing director of CB Richard Ellis and chair of the Salt Lake Chamber Education Task Force. “That’s the future of Utah if we don’t do a better job as a society to provide our education business with the tools they need to deal with the challenges they face now and in the future.”

Much of the panel discussion centered on those tools, trying to define what they are, how they help teachers assess students and how they help administrators assess teachers.

“I think teachers need better assessments in reading and mathematics,” said Rich Kendell, former commissioner of Higher Education and superintendent of Davis School District. “I don’t think they have the diagnostic tools at their fingertips that they need to help young people do math and read at a high level of proficiency. We have not invested in those assessments and they need to be done if we are going to improve.”

While the documentary points to a lack of motivation among teachers caused by granting tenure as a significant reason for low performance, the president of the Utah Education Association (UEA) says that’s not an issue in Utah, where tenure isn’t part of the structure.

“I’m not afraid to be held accountable, no good teacher is,” said Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh, president of UEA. “We’re playing baseball with our hands tied behind our backs and we are scoring major runs. The majority of teachers I know are committed to kids, committed to progress, committed to student learning and committed to excellence. We do not protect bad teachers. That’s a bad wrap we’ve gotten in our state.”

The head of public education in Utah agrees that teachers overall perform very well with limited resources and concedes that more can be done.

“I think we have great teachers,” said Larry K. Shumway, Utah State superintendent of Public Instruction. “There is room for evaluation to help us identify where the weak points are and then to direct our professional development to solve those problems.”

Kendell, who has worked with the Chamber to shape the Prosperity 2020 movement to enhance education in Utah and to ensure a world-class workforce, says there is more than one big problem to solve and it will take more than one solution.

“There’s no silver bullet,” said Kendell, who reiterated the importance of assessment along with a longer school day and school year as well as differential pay for in-demand subjects like science and math. “These are not budget breakers. These are within the scope of what the state can do. We need a plan and we need to follow it but we’re not planning and we’re not doing it.”

Gallagher-Fishbaugh expressed a willingness to explore options to strengthen education and stressed the importance of including the teachers in the process.

“Don’t forget to ask the classroom teachers,” she said. “Often, the teachers’ voices are absent from these conversations. Let the teachers be the guiding force in collaboration with you.”

“You don’t take a challenged company and turn it around in one year—especially one as steeped in tradition as education,” said Bouchard. “Prosperity 2020 is a ten year plan. There are very few things we have not discussed. We’ve gone right to the people that are involved and talked to them about it. Fundamentally, the business community is squarely behind the education leadership team both in public and higher education. Do we have challenges? Yes. Will we overcome those challenges? I believe we will.”

The best state for business? Utah is the place.

Thursday, October 14th, 2010

The same publication that predicted Utah would lead the nation out of the Great Recession has placed our state atop the list of “The Best States for Business Careers.”

Forbes sites Utah’s growing economy (expanding 3.5 % annually over the past five years), job growth (up 1.5% over the past five years), low corporate taxes (decreased from 7% to 5% in 2008), low energy costs and a highly educated workforce as reasons for the coveted top ranking.


“This is a true chamber of commerce kind of day,” said Lane Beattie, president and CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber, Utah’s largest and longest-standing statewide business association.  “We are the best in the country because of our well-educated workforce and because we have cultivated a business friendly environment.”

After finishing in the top five each of the past four years, Utah ousts Virginia from the top spot it has held over the same period.  The rankings take into account economic data over a five-year period.

“This ranking doesn’t just show that we’ve weathered the storm better than the rest of the nation,” said Beattie. “It shows that we have been good for a long time and that is very attractive to businesses looking at our state and for businesses that are already here.”

Utah’s high ranking plays an important role in the ongoing economic development of the state. Over the past year many businesses have chosen to expand in or relocate to Utah.

“Just like a good college football coach uses bowl victories and exposure to recruit better players, we use these rankings to recruit businesses that economically strengthen our state,” said Beattie.

The Forbes ranking also helps locally owned businesses understand how Utah’s situation is better than the rest of the nation.

“This tells our local businesses that Utah is on the right path,” said Beattie. “If they have been reluctant to expand or to hire, this helps show them that now may be the time to take that step. That confidence is so critical.”

Video Courtesy of

The complete Forbes article can be found HERE.

Beattie named friend of education by NASBE

Thursday, October 14th, 2010

Chamber President Lane Beattie uses an umbrella as a visual aid to encourage the Legislature to utilize the Rainy Day Fund to protect education, Feb. 24, 2010

Salt Lake Chamber President and CEO Lane Beattie has been named a “Friend of Education” by the National Association of State Boards of Education. Under his leadership, the business community has worked to protect education during the economic downturn and continues to work to strengthen education in our state.

“There is no separating the educational strength of a community from the strength of its economy,” said Beattie. “Our work is just beginning. We’re fortunate to have dedicated partners who want to see Utah flourish, and we’re going to keep working to enhance the educational opportunities for students in our state.”

Through Beattie’s leadership, the Chamber formed a model partnership between the business community, the Utah State Office of Education and the Utah System of Higher Education. The partnership encourages investment and innovation that will help students graduate college and enter the workforce better prepared for their professions.

As the State Legislature faced significant budget challenges in early 2010, Beattie led the Chamber’s efforts to encourage investment in education. During a news conference held at the Capitol, he opened an umbrella and called on the legislators to utilize the state’s Rainy Day Fund to protect education from steep cuts. As a result, public and higher education were funded at the same level as the previous fiscal year.

“Lane Beattie has long been recognized by the people of Utah as a dedicated public servant and business leader who cares deeply about public education,” said NASBE Executive Director Brenda Welburn. “During these days of economic uncertainty, he has been instrumental in advancing partnerships between education and industry to help ensure a positive future for the students and businesses of Utah.”

The Utah State Board of Education nominated Beattie for the award, which he will receive at the NASBE’s national conference in Salt Lake City, Oct. 16th.

USTAR opens Life Sciences Building at USU to attract top research companies

Saturday, October 9th, 2010

Building for the Economy of Tomorrow from Salt Lake Chamber on Vimeo.

The Utah Science Technology and Research initiative—more commonly known as USTAR—is a long-term, state-funded investment to strengthen Utah’s “knowledge economy” and generate high-paying jobs.

Yesterday, USTAR opened a new BioInnovations Building at Utah State University. The facility is located in USU’s Innovation Campus in North Logan.

The building will house highly advanced life sciences laboratories, and will provide researchers the resources to seek cures for a range of human and animal diseases.

More importantly this facility will help attract top researchers and research companies to Utah.

For more information, CLICK HERE.

Athena, five Pathfinders announced today

Thursday, October 7th, 2010

The Salt Lake Chamber, Utah’s largest statewide business association, has named Dr. Cynthia Bioteau as the 2010 Athena and will officially present the award November 16 at the 34th Annual American Express Women & Business Conference and Wells Fargo Women’s Financial Services Athena Award luncheon.

“Dr. Bioteau embodies the spirit of the Athena,” said Lane Beattie, president and CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber. “Her leadership has been key to the success of one of our state’s largest and most important educational institutions and her commitment to developing Utah’s workforce is invaluable.”

Dr. Bioteau serves as president and CEO of Salt Lake Community College, the first women to hold the position. She has over 35 years of experience as an educator and administrator. She created the Women’s Business Institute at SLCC to provide programmatic and financial support to women entrepreneurs.

“Working to stretch the limits of perceived expectations of what women can do and what they can achieve has been a focus throughout my career,” said Dr. Bioteau. “I’m honored to receive the Athena Award.”

In addition to the Athena Award, five women will receive the 2010 Pathfinder awards. The Pathfinder Awards are presented annually to community leaders who create new paths that promote the development and recognition of women in business. 2010 Recipients include:

  • Amy Rees Anderson, CEO of MediConnect Global
  • Amanda Dickson, Co-Host at KSL News Radio 1160 AM
  • Nicole Mouskondis, Senior Vice President of Nicholas & Co.
  • Diane Q. Mansfield, Vice President of Human Resources for Questar Corp.
  • Senator Luz Robles, Utah State Senate & Diverse Market Business Development Manager, Zions Bank

Chris Redgrave was honored as the 2009 Athena. Other recent recipients include Senator Pat Jones (2008), Governor Olene Walker (2004) and Patricia Richards of Wells Fargo (2000) who was the first female Chair of the Chamber Board of Governors.

About the Athena
The Athena Award, sponsored by Wells Fargo Women’s Financial Services, is a prestigious national award presented annually to an active member of the Salt Lake Chamber who demonstrates excellence, creativity and initiative in business, provides valuable service by devoting time and energy to improve the quality of life for others in the community, and assists women in reaching their full leadership potential.

Established in 1982 in Lansing, Michigan, the Athena Award ®Program is now administered from its Chicago, Illinois headquarters and boasts over 300 active communities in the United States, Canada, China, Russia and the United Kingdom. More than 5000 individuals representing a wide variety of professions and businesses have received the Athena Award. Presented by local host organizations in partnership with Athena’s national underwriters, local businesses and individual sponsors the award practically demonstrates the quote from Plato, “What is honored in a country will be cultivated there.” The award takes the form of a hand-cast bronze sculpture symbolizing the strength, courage and wisdom of the recipient.

About the Pathfinders
The Pathfinder Awards are presented annually during the American Express Women & Business Conference during the Wells Fargo Athena Award Luncheon to a select number of worthy community leaders who have a history of support for women and women’s issues and who have worked to further the development and recognition of women. This award has been a traditional part of the conference for many years.

Past Athena Recipients
2009     Chris Redgrave, Bonneville Salt Lake Radio Group
2008     Patricia Jones, Dan Jones & Associates
2007     Margo Provost, Log Haven
2006     Marilyn Tang, Certified Handling Systems
2005     Pamela Atkinson, Community Advocate
2004     Gov. Olene Walker, Utah State Governor
2003     Becky Berkey Potts, AT&T Wireless
2002     Susan Glasmann, Questar Gas Company
2001     Lori Giovannoni, Lori Giovannoni and Associates
2000     Patricia Richards, First Security Bank
1999     Lorraine Miller, Cactus & Tropicals
1998     Deborah Bayle Nielsen, American Red Cross Greater Salt Lake Area Chapter
1997     Carol Carter, IC Products
1996     Ramona Rudert, Predictable Building Systems
1995     Joan Lewis, Nesco Service, Inc.
1993     June Morris, Morris Air
1992     Rhoda Ramsey, Ramsey Group N.
1991     Patricia Freston, Ph.D., Questar Corporation
1990     Jacqueline Nicholes, Quality Press
1988     Carol Browning, CLU
1987     Patricia Shoemaker Glessner, KSL TV
1986     Isabelle Jensen, Questar Corporation
1985     Carol Fay, Internal Revenue Services
1984     Phyllis Steorts, Westin Hotel Utah