Utah exports hit $13.6 billion, set new record

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

Business Message in a Minute – Exports from Salt Lake Chamber on Vimeo.

Over the past five years, Utah merchandise exports have doubled. For the past three years we have set new all-time state records for merchandise exports. Three years ago at 10.3 billion dollars… last year we were the only state in the nation to increase our exports over the previous year… and today I’m proud to announce that according to numbers released just this week by the U-S Commerce Department we the figures for 2010 are in and we have raised the bar again to 13.6 billion dollars!

These numbers are impressive and they show the incredible potential we have to boost our economy by looking beyond the borders of the United States.

Right now, over 28-hundred Utah companies export their goods and services. That’s a good number but one we can certainly improve. At the World Trade Center Utah, we specialize in helping Utah companies enter profitable global markets.

Simply put, exports mean jobs.

Your continued support of the World Trade Center will strengthen our ability to keep a good thing going, to create Utah jobs and to meet the goal laid out in The Utah Jobs Agenda… to double Utah exports over the next five years, again.

More high tech jobs coming to Utah

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

Prepared remarks given by Lane Beattie at the announcement of Intermountain Healthcare’s new Homer Warner Center for Informatics Research.

I’m very pleased to be here today… it’s always nice to have good news to share.

Utah’s economy is leading the national economic recovery.

Intermountain Healthcare is a leader in health care and today you can see one of the many reasons why. Intermountain’s dedication to best practices improves treatment quality and eliminates waste from the system. They are a model of efficiency and innovation.

This new facility and these new highly skilled technicians continue a tradition of merging computers and medicine dating back more than half a century.

The 300 IT jobs they are adding will have a direct impact on our economy:

-These high-skilled jobs require highly skilled professionals.
-These jobs help keep Utahns healthy.
-And these jobs create secondary jobs as new technologies are developed.

Just over a month ago, the Salt Lake Chamber unveiled The Utah Jobs Agenda, a private-sector plan to create 150,000 jobs over the next five years. As we see today, we are moving toward that goal.

This morning, over 100-thousand Utahns got up, got out of bed, they were ready, willing and able to go to work… but they had no job to go to.

That number is unacceptably high and restoring Utah to full employment is the top priority of the business community.

When the Chamber introduced The Utah Jobs Agenda the first week of January, there were 1,200,800 employed Utahns. Today, that number is 1,205,200, an increase of 4,400 jobs. That leaves plenty ground to cover but the recovery is underway and Utah businesses are hiring.

I’ve said on many occasions that now is the time:

-Now is the time to invest.
-Now is the time to innovate.
-And now is the time to hire.

Intermountain Healthcare is a great example of all three of those points.

They are investing in Utah by bringing highly skilled workers.

They continue to innovate by being on the leading edge of technology.

And—most importantly—they are hiring.

The Utah Jobs Agenda is ambitious. With Utah’s workforce, infrastructure and pro-business policies, our economy is poised to lead the nation if we make the right investments and keep our eye trained on job creation.

Thank you very much.

Testimony on immigration bills

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

Over the past week, the Chamber has testified on a number of the immigration bills being debated on Capitol Hill. Monday afternoon, Public Policy Director Wesley Smith testified against H.B. 253. Tuesday, Chamber Executive Vice President and General Counsel Robin Riggs testified in favor of H.B. 116, a bill sponsored by Rep. Bill Wright (R-Dist. 68) that would implement a guest worker program. We’ve had several inquires about the Chamber’s position so we thought it would be helpful to post the testimony given by the Chamber.

Wesley Smith, public policy director H.B. 253:

Good afternoon.  I am Wesley Smith and I serve as the Director of Public Policy at the Salt Lake Chamber.  The Salt Lake Chamber is a state-wide Chamber of Commerce representing 6, 100 businesses and approximately 500,000 Utah jobs—nearly half the workforce of our state.

The Chamber opposes H.B. 253 on the grounds that it will damage Utah’s economy and it is inconsistent with The Utah Compact.

First, the Salt Lake Chamber seeks to build Utah’s reputation as a business-friendly state.  The Chamber is committed to reducing business costs, taxes and regulations.

This bill constitutes a tremendous increase in regulation resulting in increased costs to business and government.  Setting aside the significant costs of utilizing E-Verify, this bill would create undue burdens on business and increase the role of government in our lives.

Second, the Salt Lake Chamber supports the principles outlined in the Utah Compact.  This legislation does not comport with The Utah Compact in the following areas:

Federal Solutions:
The Utah Compact acknowledges the critical role of the federal government in addressing immigration issues.  As the federal government is the sole authority on the work eligibility, we believe that enforcement of this federal law if best handled by the federal government as opposed to state efforts to enforce federal law.

Economy:
This bill does not represent the free-market philosophy that maximizes individual freedom and opportunity, which is espoused in The Utah Compact.  This bill increased government regulation and harms Utah’s global reputation as a welcoming and business-friendly state.  Government should not put the burden of enforcement on the shoulders of business.  The federal government must protect our national borders.

In summation, the Chamber opposes this legislation as inconsistent with the Utah Compact and inconsistent with the Chamber’s mission, which states:  As Utah’s business leader, we stand as the voice of business, we support our members’ success and we champion community prosperity.

Robin Riggs, executive vice president and general counsel, H.B. 116:

Good afternoon.  I am Robin Riggs and I serve as the General Counsel of the Salt Lake Chamber.  The Salt Lake Chamber is a state-wide Chamber of Commerce representing 6, 100 businesses and approximately 500,000 Utah jobs—nearly half the workforce of our state.

The Chamber supports H.B. 116 .  This legislation will benefit our economy and appears to be guided by the principles of The Utah Compact.

First, the Salt Lake Chamber seeks to build Utah’s reputation as a business-friendly state.  This legislation sends the right message to the nation and the world: Utah is a pragmatic and business-friendly state.

Second, the Salt Lake Chamber supports the principles outlined in the Utah Compact.  Several important provisions of this bill are in harmony with The Utah Compact.  Namely:

-  This legislation recognizes the need for federal action and serves as a clear message to the federal government:  Act or we are prepared to solve our immigration problems.

-  H.B. 116 also addresses the criminal element of undocumented immigration while preserving the professional judgment and discretion of our law enforcement officials.  It calls for undocumented immigrants to register with the state and includes a background check that filters out criminals.  We support stringent enforcement on those who don’t meet the standards set forth in the bill.

- Most importantly, this bill will benefit our economy.  This bill represents the free-market philosophy that maximizes individual freedom and opportunity, which is espoused in The Utah Compact.   Immigrants who are actively contributing to our economy will be able to integrate more fully and live as productive members of society.

The Chamber supports this legislation that appears to be guided by the principles of The Utah Compact and is business-friendly.  As Utah’s business leader, we stand as the voice of business, we support our members’ success and we champion community prosperity.

Thank you.

SLC #2 on list of 10 Best Cities for Public Transportation

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

Adding 70 miles of rail over a seven year period is ambitious and Utah’s investment in public transit has earned us the #2 spot on U.S. News & World Report’s list of the 10 Best Cities for Public Transportation.

The publication says Salt Lake City earns its No. 2 spot in large part because of our “heavy investment in serving a large suburban and exurban population.” We are the top city in the nation for public transit spending per capita. You can READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE.

“The decisions we made five years ago to invest in such a critical area as transportation are paying off,” said Lane Beattie, president and CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber. “Business and the economy benefit when we can move people and goods efficiently. Our transit system benefits those who ride the buses and trains, as well as those who use our freeways.”

“The city is adding four new lines to the three-line system, allowing better suburban access to the city,” says the report. “Though the city’s population is just over 180,000, the system serves 1.7 million people in the larger area. Those residents take great advantage of the system; despite ranking No. 43 in terms of population, the city was No. 18 in terms of passenger miles traveled in 2008.”

“Salt Lake City’s transit goals, and the progress we’re making toward achieving them, are a reflection of the priorities for the City we all share,” SLC Mayor Ralph Becker said. “When we can put partnerships together and involve our residents, policy makers and transportation experts, we see success that is noted nationally. This is the kind of collaborative energy that gets things done and improves our City’s livability now and into the future.”

According to a U.S. News analysis, the 10 U.S. cities with the best combination of public transportation investment, ridership, and safety are:

1. Portland, OR

2. Salt Lake City

3. New York

4. Boston

5. Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN

6. San Francisco

7. Los Angeles

8. Honolulu

9 (tie). Denver

9 (tie). Austin

Other major cities that came close to making the cut were the Washington, D.C., metro area and Seattle, Washington, both at No. 11, and Chicago, Illinois, at No. 13. Though all three of these systems had relatively high ridership and public investment, they all also experienced far more safety incidents–such as collisions, derailments, and fires–per million trips than the cities in the top 10.

The accolade follows a recognition issued earlier this month by the same publication for Salt Lake City’s stellar job prospects – #2 nationally – and last year’s #1 ranking by Forbes Magazine as the best commuter city in the country.

Utah Jobs Agenda off to a strong start

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

Just over a month ago, the Salt Lake Chamber unveiled The Utah Jobs Agenda, a private-sector plan to create 150,000 jobs over the next five years. Already progress has been made in a number of areas to move toward this ambitious goal.

The Utah Jobs Agenda is a 10-point, private sector plan to create 150,000 jobs over the next five years. The plan states the Utah’s business community will do the following:

Education – Ensure that 90 percent of 3rd and 6th graders achieve reading and math proficiency and that two-thirds of Utahns have a certificate, degree or equivalent endorsement in a skilled trade or academic pursuit by 2020.

Transportation – Invest $4 billion in transportation infrastructure.

International – Double the value of international merchandise exports.

Energy – Invest $1 billion in Utah’s energy economy.

Business costs – Secure a third or better ranking among states for the cost of doing business.

Statewide corporate recruitment – Land three regional headquarters.

Immigration – Create a federally-approved, employer-sponsored work program.

Tax policy – Make incremental improvements in the efficiency, fairness and stability of the Utah tax structure.

Air quality – Attain and maintain the national ambient air quality standards.

Rural development – Create a private-led business partnership with representatives of rural Utah.

The goal of landing three regional headquarters got a boost this past week when the Salt Lake Tribune reported on a recently complete survey by BizCosts.com, a website owned by The Boyd Company, an organization that provides independent site selection counsel to businesses. The site selection study compared the cost of operating a representative corporate headquarters facility in 55 cities across the country. Salt Lake City was the eleventh least expensive—big news for a business community with a goal like the one laid out in The Utah Jobs Agenda.

Although ten cities were ranked as less-expensive than Salt Lake City, the dollar amount difference between the least-expensive (Orlando, $19.95 million annual operating cost) and Salt Lake City ($20.93 million) isn’t very large—relatively speaking.

The BizCosts study also points out that the cost of operating a corporate headquarters in Salt Lake City is, “lower than all of the California surveyed cities as well as Denver, Portland, Colorado Springs, Phoenix and Dallas.”

The study also provides a breakdown of costs in several categories and compares Utah’s capital city with New York City, Los Angeles, Seattle, Denver, Dallas and Orlando. Salt Lake City had the lowest cost of the group in two categories: electric power costs and comparative on-site travel costs. It also had the second lowest costs in two other categories including: total annual labor costs and property and sales tax costs.

“Comparative economics are ruling the corporate site selection process,” said BizCosts in a statement. “As a result, location decisions at every level of the corporate organizational structure… are being made with cost minimization as an overriding objective.”

New corporate headquarters in Salt Lake City would put some of the over-100,000 unemployed Utahns back to work, but growth among companies that are already here is just as important. There’s good news on that front, as well.

When the Chamber introduced The Utah Jobs Agenda the first week of January, there were 1,200,800 employed Utahns. Today, that number is 1,205,200, an increase of 4,400 jobs. That leaves plenty ground to cover but the recovery is underway and Utah businesses are hiring.

Job numbers are heading in the right direction on a macro level as well as company-by -company. Overstock.com announced it plans to add 150 new jobs as it opens a new facility in Provo. Goldman Sachs continues to aggressively expand and has announced it will bring 1,500 new jobs to Salt Lake City, which is now Goldman Sachs’ second largest operation in the Americans and the most popular among its employees.

Other companies have announced expansions, too. Czarnowski Display services in St. George will add 50 jobs, L3 Communications is adding 50-60 new jobs and CSN Stores will bring an additional 868 jobs to Ogden.

If your organization is helping the recovery by adding jobs, make sure to send the number of jobs and when you plan to add them to news@slchamber.com.

The Utah Jobs Agenda is ambitious. With Utah’s workforce, infrastructure and pro-business policies, our economy is poised to lead the nation if we make the right investments and keep our eye trained on job creation.

Bringing business to Utah

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

Why Utah attracts business from Salt Lake Chamber on Vimeo.

As other states look to close budget gaps by increasing taxes, business are looking for a safe haven of prudent management and Utah is actively looking to lure businesses to our state.

The Chamber creates and sustains model partnerships with the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, Economic Development Corporation of Utah, other chambers of commerce and business associations, the World Trade Center Utah, Downtown Alliance, and other like-minded entities.

We believe that low taxes, reasonable regulations, top-notch infrastructure, a world-class workforce, and well-managed and limited government create the environment for economic success.

Check out the video GOED is using to help out-of-state businesses see why Utah is the right choice when looking at relocation options.

President Obama addresses U.S. Chamber

Monday, February 7th, 2011

President Barak Obama spoke this morning at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce just a short distance from the White House in Washington, D.C.

The President spoke to business leaders about programs for growth and opportunity. Among the topics he addressed were business regulation, worker productivity, health care, infrastructure programs, federal spending levels and job creation.

Salt Lake Chamber to offer new professional development training

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011

During the Salt Lake Chamber’s 108th Annual Meeting, Chamber President Lane Beattie announced the opening of Salt Lake Chamber University, a professional development program dedicated to helping businesses train new managers while saving valuable time and money.

“Utah businesses benefit from good workers with the potential to be great and great workers with the potential to help in ways that may not have been considered,” said Beattie. “Salt Lake Chamber University is designed to help make the best employees even better.”

Salt Lake Chamber University is an on-line, video-based professional development program designed to enhance participants’ skills. Through this program, employees can learn from experts from across the nation and from the top business leaders including members of the Chamber Board of Governors.

The courses are designed to benefit supervisors and managers with less than one year of experience as well as experienced supervisors with little or no formal supervisory training. Businesses should also consider enrolling employees they feel have potential to eventually serve as supervisors.

Numerous Chamber members have expressed desire for a program that would save them the time and resources required to train new supervisors in-house. Salt Lake Chamber University is simple. After registering, students login from any computer and watch the ten video sessions in a series. The interactive application allows you to watch the video, take notes, chat with other students and provides supplemental materials.  Video codes within the videos ensure the participant is actively participating.

The first professional development series offered through Salt Lake Chamber University is “Training for New Managers and Supervisors.” Sessions include:

-Mechanics of Being a Manager
-Communication Techniques
-Motivating Staff and Volunteers
-Managing Conflict and Crisis
-Life Balance
-Fundamentals of hiring, evaluating, and firing; Managing Difficult Employees
-Managing Difficult EmployeesBuilding a highly motivated team
-Transitioning from Worker to Supervisor
-Leadership

To fully understand the value of Salt Lake Chamber University, compare the tuition price of $750 for members and $1,000 for non-members with national training programs that run $1,995 for just 20 hours of instruction, a fraction of what is offered by Salt Lake Chamber University. Not only is this program available at a much lower in price, Salt Lake Chamber University is available locally and online instead of having to travel for three days to one of a handful of U.S. cities.

“Just as we are committed to providing a world-class workforce of the future, we are dedicated to enhancing the workforce of today,” said Beattie. “Salt Lake Chamber University is affordable, easy and effective.”

Salt Lake Chamber University officially launches February 16th. You can register online at slchamber.com/university. Early bird registration specials are available through February 7th, offering savings of $150. Additional discounts are available for small businesses and non-profit organizations.