The business case for clean air

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

Just hours before a storm was scheduled to roll into the valley to break up the first inversion of the winter season, the Salt Lake Chamber hosted over 100 business leaders to make the business and economic case for clean air.

“Part of our mission at the Chamber is to champion community prosperity,” said Natalie Gochnour, executive vice president of the Salt Lake Chamber. “Our work to clean the air does that by improving health and boosting our economy.”

Air quality is an important economic issue. Poor air quality hinders corporate relocation efforts, places additional regulatory burdens on business, increases health care costs and potentially places Utah’s federal highway funding at risk. With more than half the air pollution coming from vehicles, the business community can make a difference.

“Every business that considers coming here wants to talk about quality of life,” said Jeff Edwards, president and CEO of the Economic Development Corporation of Utah. “Clean air is very important for employee retention and for a corporate image—all things businesses consider when they decide to come here.”

“The clean air issue will only be solved by business, and if we don’t solve it we can’t sustain our business,” said Kelly Sanders, president and CEO of Rio Tinto, Kennecott Utah Copper. “It truly is an opportunity for us to provide a solution to the problem.”

Cutting down on dust and other pollutants at the Kennecott Copper Mine requires continued innovation. Rio Tinto has increased the amount of weight its trucks can move for the same mileage by 50 percent. An idle time reduction program reduced 20,000 tons of greenhouse gases, the equivalent of taking 3,700 cars off the road and saved Rio Tinto $5.5 million and 1.8 million gallons of fuel.

“It’s very easy to look at the cars and say it is someone else’s problem,” said Sanders. “We need to come up with the solution as a business community.”

The panelists agreed the private sector must play the critical role in addressing air quality and the effort will have wide-ranging benefits.

“Change is driven by special interests,” said Alan Matheson, the state’s senior environmental advisor. “The good news is the special interest in this case is everyone who likes to breathe.”

Matheson said the state is working on a number of clean air related initiatives and continues its commitment to the Clear the Air Challenge. The Clear the Air Challenge is a program that encourages Utahns to cut down on the amount of miles driven and to better utilize mass transit alternatives.

The panel also discussed Utah’s natural gas supply and the opportunities to enhance air quality and to significantly increase the  use of CNG vehicles and the contribution that makes to air quality.

Currently 120,000 vehicles in U.S. run on natural gas compared to 20 million vehicles powered by natural gas worldwide. While the national number is lagging in this area, Utah has been a leader in the continued development, especially with the investment in the natural gas corridor. There are now 27 natural gas vehicle stations in the state with two more on the way, one in Kaysville and one at Weber St. University.

“We have been lagging in this area but we have seen a substantial shift and the deployment of infrastructure for CNG vehicles is underway,” said Craig Wagstaff, senior vice president of Questar. “We need to develop this resource wisely and in a responsible way.”

Women’s Business Center celebrates 14th anniversary

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

Last week, on November 24th, while we all took some time off to celebrate Thanksgiving, we also marked the 14th anniversary of the Women’s Business Center.

Over those 14 years, the Women’s Business Center has provided counseling, training and encouragement to thousands of women.

In just the past year, the Women’s Business Center has provided over 160 hours of training to nearly 16-hundred people. These trainings focus on six core areas: marketing, finance, business plan development, sales, management and procurement.

A total of 250 clients received over 600 hundred total hours of free one-on-one consulting and one in every five people who get business help from the Women’s Business Center are socio-economically challenged. Most impressively, this effort has resulted in 15 new business start-ups and 22 jobs created and we’ll take as much of that as we can get.

Those numbers are impressive. But they mean more than what is often reflected in statistics. Each of those numbers represents an individual who took a risk, who stepped out of a comfort zone, who pursued a dream.

Some gave it their all but didn’t find success. Some succeeded. Some continue to thrive.

It has been said, “There is no excellence without labor. One cannot dream oneself into either usefulness or happiness.”

The Women’s Business Center, led by Pam Okumura and her team, Ann Marie Thompson and Mariam Paul, helps dreamers become entrepreneurs. Those entrepreneurs make Utah’s economy one of the strongest in the nation.

We want to thank everyone who has provided support for this great program.

Forbes ranks Utah as Best State for Business… again.

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

One of the world’s most prestigious financial publications has named Utah the Best State For Business for the second consecutive year. Forbes debuted its ranking with Utah atop the charts this week.

“Utah repeats this year as Forbes Best State for Business and Careers in our sixth annual look at the business climates of the 50 states. No state can match the consistent performance of Utah. It is the only state that ranks among the top 15 states in each of the six main categories we rate the states on.

“Utah highlights include energy costs 31% below the national average and employment growth that has averaged 0.6% the past five years. Compare that to the U.S. as a whole where job growth has averaged negative 0.6% since 2005. Utah’s 5% corporate tax rate is well below western neighbors Arizona, Idaho and New Mexico. Utah ranks sixth in a new Tax Foundation study that looks at the tax burden on business in each state across different industries. As part of the ranking, we included the study, which will be released to the public in the coming months.”

Forbes notes that momentum is building in Utah and rankings, like this one, attract businesses across the spectrum and from around the country.

“Businesses are getting the message on Utah. Procter & Gamble, ITT, Home Depot and Boeing all announced expansions in Utah this year. The Goldman Sachs office in Salt Lake City is its second biggest in the Americas with more 1,000 employees and significant expansion expected over the next four years.

“Technology companies particularly have had Utah on their radar as an affordable alternative to California with overall business costs in Utah 10% below the national average. Adobe Systems, eBay, Electronic Arts and Oracle have all expanded in Utah in recent years.

“Companies are also attracted by Utah’s population growth which is one of the fastest in the country and provides a burgeoning workforce. “Utah has a young, dynamic economy with a vibrant high-tech sector,” says Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics.

“The Utah story is far from over. Job growth is projected to be 2.4% annually through 2015 according to Moody’s, sixth best in the country.”

You can read the full article on Forbes.com.

Chamber Pres. discusses immigration open letter on Doug Wright Show

Thursday, November 17th, 2011

Salt Lake Chamber President and CEO Lane Beattie was a guest on KSL News Radio’s Doug Wright Show this morning, discussing the open letter on immigration the Chamber sent to our federal delegation. The letter also ran as a full page ad in both the Salt Lake Tribune and the Deseret News.

Listen to the interview.

Chamber issues open letter to federal delegation on immigration reform

Thursday, November 17th, 2011

This morning the Chamber publicly released an open letter addressed to the members of our federal delegation. The letter asks them to do two things:

1. Advance comprehensive immigration reform this year
2. Support the principles in The Utah Compact

We also ran full page ads in both the Salt Lake Tribune (page A-13) and the Deseret News (page A-15). The fact is, our federal delegation is doing some great work on immigration. Congressman Bishop continue to fight to open federal lands for border control. Congressman Chaffetz and Senator Lee are working to reform visa caps so businesses can get the workforce they need to operate. These are all important efforts, but we can do more if we fully espouse the principles of The Utah Compact and speak as a group of five–soon to be six.

Business, civic, community and religious leaders and organizations support The Utah Compact–and more than a dozen other states are following in the path we blazed.

Here is the text of the open letter:

An open letter to our elected leaders in Washington, D.C.

November 17, 2011

Dear Senators Hatch and Lee and Congressmen Matheson, Bishop and Chaffetz:

One year ago, business, community, civic and religious leaders stood shoulder to shoulder to sign The Utah Compact. They did so because they recognized the value of a more civil, compassionate and constructive approach to immigration. In doing so, Utah community leaders demonstrated to the nation that there is a better path forward on immigration reform. With the stroke of a pen, Utah became a shining example of how free societies should approach a complicated and critical issue.

The Utah Compact recognizes that immigration reform is a federal issue. It is in this spirit that we write you an open letter requesting your help. The U.S. Congress bears constitutional responsibility for controlling our borders, and for regulating workforce eligibility. It is wrong for elected leaders in Washington, D.C. to do nothing while states bear the burden of millions of undocumented people. We ask you to unite as a delegation and invite others in Congress to join you in completely reforming America’s broken immigration system.

We recognize and appreciate the worthy efforts of members of the Utah delegation to enforce existing law, to secure the U.S.-Mexican border and to eliminateburdensome and ineffective visa regulations. These are important and positive steps, which we support and appreciate. We emphasize, however, that they are not enough. Business and community leaders in Utah call for much more.

We reaffirm our support for The Utah Compact and invite you to join thousands of Utahns who have signed the Compact. We ask you to advance comprehensive immigration reform this year that is consistent with the principles contained in the Compact. With your help, Utah will continue to set an example to thenation, and indeed the world, of how to respect the dignity of all people, protect public safety, support families as the building block of successfulsocieties and improve a fragile economy.

Thank you for your service to the people of the Great State of Utah.

Sincerely,

Lane Beattie
President and CEO

A transportation movement

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

Editor’s note: prepared remarks delivered by Salt Lake Chamber President and CEO Lane Beattie are used for this post. The speech was given at the UDOT Conference.

Good afternoon… and thank you to UDOT for extending to me the privilege of speaking to you and to share the business community’s insight on the state of our economy and the important role transportation plays in it.

I’m reminded of the story of a local highway department crew that reached its job site only to realize the workers had forgotten their shovels. The crew’s foreman got on the radio and explained his situation to the supervisor. Thinking quickly, the supervisor radioed back and said, “Don’t worry, we’ll send some shovels… just lean on each other until they arrive.”

Here in Utah we are, of course, blessed with hard working road crews who define the terms “ahead of schedule and under budget.” We’re also very fortunate we have been able to keep them busy.

Not everyone in our state has been so fortunate. This morning, nearly 100,000 Utahns woke up and began the process of looking for work. Our economy in this state is creating jobs. We have created over 33,300 so far this year. But that is not enough. Our unemployment rate remains unacceptably high.

These are challenging times for our nation. Our economy is struggling to recover from the most severe economic downturn since the Great Depression. Looking around the room, I dare say it is the worst we’ve experienced in any of our lifetimes.

The national economic outlook is marred by uncertainty. We are hamstrung by a lack of confidence and we are desperately searching for economic leadership.

Here in our state, we have been a relative safe harbor in the raging economic storms. Undoubtedly, we’ve felt the impact of the downturn, but we have been shielded from the full force.

I mentioned our job creation numbers; our job growth in Utah is two and a half times the national average.

Picture, if you will, a boat navigating rough waters. The national ship has small oars—barely the size of spoons. And those manning the oars refuse to work together; they have no rhythm as they paddle. There is no captain sending out clear orders on how to move the boat to its destination and it is subsequently tossed by the waves.

Now compare that scene to our state. Our boat has larger oars like fiscal prudence, Downtown Rising and international exports. Best of all, we paddle in sync and in the same direction. Utah’s secret sauce is collaboration. We work well together. Finally, we have an economic captain in Gov. Herbert who has set a clear vision and given clear direction.

Gov. Herbert’s economic track record is stellar. Just listen to the marquee names … Adobe, Goldman Sachs, ATK, Litehouse salad dressing, EA Sports, Pepperidge Farms, eBay, ITT Corporation, Overstock and Merit Medical, just to name a few.

Utah is prosperous because of great economic leadership. That is why Utah is the envy of other states in this nation.

So what is our roadmap for success? Transportation is a critical component.

The rest of the nation drives on dilapidated roads and under crumbling bridges and highways. In Utah, we are constantly improving our transportation system and investing in the infrastructure we need to grow.

One of the top economists in the nation, Moody’s Mark Zandi, noted earlier this month that the U.S. invests less than $300 billion in public infrastructure annually. That’s one third of what we spend on defense and only two percent of GDP. By way of comparison, Utah spends just over three percent of the state’s $94.9 billion personal income—a full percentage point higher than the rest of the country.

Zandi says this historically low level of investment has led to deterioration of roads, airports and other vital resources. He believes what we know to be true in Utah already: increased infrastructure spending is good economic policy in both the short term and the long term.

In Utah, we’re building 70 miles of rail in seven years. Folks in Davis County, where I live, enjoy less-congested freeways because of Legacy Parkway and the FrontRunner sharing the burden of our rush hour traffic on I-15.

And of course, we have the largest state-funded public works project in the history of the state in the I-15 CORE project in Utah County. I should also point out, even though I-15 is a federal interstate, every penny required for the work that is underway right now is coming from Utah’s pocketbook—not from federal funds.

Zandi also points out increased federal funding is the fourth highest fiscal stimulus multiplier. For every dollar we put in, we get back $1.44. If you can make that trade, do it.

Utah’s economy is out-performing the rest of the nation and I believe there is a direct correlation between that fact and the fact that we have done a much better job investing in our infrastructure.

Utah’s economic history demonstrates that while Utah can outperform the nation for a while, we can’t do it indefinitely. Ultimately our fortune is tied to the nation’s economic performance. There is no scenario where we succeed over the long term alone.

So the question must be asked, what can we do to sustain a strong economy here in our state?

Nearly one year ago, we at the Salt Lake Chamber introduced what we call The Utah Jobs Agenda. It is a 10-point, private sector plan to create 150,000 jobs over the next five years. Now, we gave ourselves a little time to build some momentum. We didn’t just divide 150,000 by five and set a goal of 30,000 jobs per year. Our first year goal is 18,000 jobs. So we are ahead of pace. But we need to pick-up the pace.

As I mentioned, there are 10 points to The Utah Jobs Agenda, and today I would like to focus on three of them, in particular. These three are shaping up to be an economic Triple Play, if you will.

Economic Development
The first part of our Triple Play is Economic Development. The entire point of The Utah Jobs Agenda is to create jobs—and in creating jobs we strengthen our economy. We must attract businesses to our state and we must help those businesses that started in our state, grow in our state.

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

Education
The second part of our Triple Play is education. To attract and fill the jobs that will propel the Utah economy, we need to offer a workforce that is second to none. In education we have set clearly defined goals. We want 90% of all third graders in our state reading at grade level. We want 90 percent of elementary school students in our state to be proficient in both reading and mathematics. And we want two-thirds of all Utah adults to hold a college degree or skilled trade certificate by the year 2020.

Transportation
The final part of our Triple Play I would like to discuss today is transportation. A first-class infrastructure is an important part of economic development.

At the Salt Lake Chamber we firmly believe economic prosperity requires efficient transportation systems. The efficient movement of goods and people—the business you are all in—saves money and strengthens our businesses. We support a vibrant transportation system that facilitates the success of business.

We believe in disciplined planning and investment. State and local government and business leaders have shown wisdom in planning for funding roads, highway, transit and air traffic system in Utah. We must not let the fruits of our past planning and funding efforts lull us into passivity. Gridlock is not an option. Continued planning and funding efforts are necessary to maintain and improve our systems.

If there is a silver lining to the economic challenges we face it is that now is a great time to invest. We benefit from incredible bonding terms and materials are affordable.

Now, education and transportation may seem like an odd pairing. Unfortunately, I am often asked which is a higher priority. I want to speak clearly today… the choice between education and transportation is a false choice. Neither is more important and neither is less important.

In fact, if education and transportation were to work together… if they were to stand shoulder to shoulder and make their case—that would truly be a powerful combination.

Education is an important element for the future of our state economy. It requires more than lobbying; it requires a movement. The Chamber has worked to bring together a wide and strong coalition in support of the education goals we must meet in this state. The movement is called Prosperity 2020. Across our state, 14 chambers of commerce and many other business and community groups have signed on in support.

To meet the transportation needs of our state, we need to do more than we have in the past. The challenge we face requires its own movement and one similar to education. Today, it is my pleasure to announce the Salt Lake Chamber Transportation Task Force has voted unanimously to organize a multi-year campaign to advocate investment and innovation in Utah’s transportation system. Today, I’m announcing the formation of the Utah Mobility Coalition.

The mission of the Utah Mobility Coalition will be to develop the mobility infrastructure for the 21st century economy and to strengthen the knowledge of all parties involved in transportation investment decision-making.

We are committed to the success of the Utah Mobility Coalition. I have asked our COO, Heidi Walker, our Executive Vice President for public policy Natalie Gochnour, our new head of government relations Wesley Smith, and our communication director Marty Carpenter to redouble their efforts to enhance our transportation advocacy.

But a movement of this magnitude needs something more. It requires a leader with vision, with experience and with an understanding of the issues facing our transportation partners.

Robin Riggs is a man I consider a trusted colleague, a valued counselor and, most importantly, he is the right man to lead the Utah Mobility Coalition.

During his eight years at the Chamber, Robin played a critical role in our public policy success. Today Utahns in Davis County enjoy a swifter commute; TRAX and FrontRunner move thousands across the previously-congested Wasatch Front; and relief is coming to Utah County. These transportation projects–and the economic boost they have provided to the thousands of engineers, road builders and others–are a result of Proposition 3, a ballot initiative passed in 2006.

The business community recognized the importance a vastly improved transportation system would play in our state. Making it a reality was no small feat.

In a matter of just five months—a remarkably short period of time—Robin helped change state law to allow for a local option sales tax, he helped convince three county commissioners to add the issue to the ballot, he raised money for a public awareness campaign and he lobbied to get the measure passed. Prop. 3 would not have been a success without Robin Riggs.

The Chamber will continue to benefit from Robin’s strong relationships on Capitol Hill and his vast institutional knowledge. Allowing Robin to hone in on a single issue—and one as important as transportation—will be a benefit to the long-term economic vitality of our state.

Robin has always succeeded in his professional endeavors, and I have no doubt this next chapter of his career will bring the same level of success.

To be successful, Transportation must meet the level of commitment shown to other endeavors like education I’m talking about raw financial commitment to support an important economic cause.

In the five years since the Chamber made Proposition 3 a reality, we have seen a number of transportation businesses allow their Chamber memberships to lapse. In order to help you, we need you to not only be a member of Utah’s largest business association and the Utah Mobility Coalition, we need your to increase your level of involvement and financial commitment. We are here to help you succeed, but we cannot do that without your financial support.

I always want to make this easy for you so I’ve brought Daniel Seelos along with me. Daniel, where are you? Daniel will be in the back of the room to explain the benefits of Chamber membership and to encourage your participation in the Utah Mobility Coalition.

You may know the story of a kindergarten teacher who was observing her classroom of children while they were drawing. She would occasionally walk around to see each child’s work.

As she got to one little girl who was working diligently, she asked what the drawing was.

The girl replied, ‘I’m drawing God.’

The teacher paused and said, ‘But no one knows what God looks like.’

Without missing a beat, or looking up from her drawing, the girl replied, ‘They will in a minute.’

Every great movement requires a vision. Yesterday, John Nojrd laid out the core principles UDOT follows:

-Preserve infrastructure

-Optimize mobility

-Improve safety

-Strengthen the economy

John is a man of vision and a great leader. We are fortunate to have him lead UDOT. The vision we pursue collectively will take a collaborative effort. Let me share with you some of the points of my vision for transportation in our state.

Eliminate congestion
First, we must eliminate congestion. We must make and keep Utah’s roads free of economy-killing, energy-wasting, pollution-producing congestion. The Crossroads of the West must be a place where traffic flows freely, where we make good time delivering goods and where people can go about their business.

Maintenance
Second, we must maintain what we have worked to build. Since 2006, we have invested heavily to bring our transportation system to an enviable level. We must not slow our efforts. Maintenance is as key of an element as is construction. We can pay now or we can pay a lot more later. The prudent path is to pay now to maintain what we have worked so hard to build.

Maximize transportation options
Third, we must maximize our transportation options. We must continue with our nation-leading commitment to public transit. Trains have long been a part of our state transportation system and ridership levels show how popular it is with thousands of Utahns. Within the next few years, we will open a TRAX line to the airport and we will add a FrontRunner line to Utah County. Looking further down the track, we will need a mountain transportation system that matches the quality of our skiing—it must be the greatest on earth.

We need to complete the Mountain View Corridor, and we need to get started on rebuilding the airport. The Chamber’s involvement with the airport dates back as far as 1920 when we aided in the improvement of the landing field and hangar.

Salt Lake City International Airport is in need of a $1.8 billion expansion. The facilities are aging, and there are earthquake risks and traffic choke points between terminals B and C. The airport is one of the most significant facilities we have when it comes to our economic strength.

The airport serves eight airlines and their affiliates. Most importantly, it is a Delta Air Lines hub. Delta alone operates around 570 flights per day here. Our airport is the 25th busiest in the nation and the 62nd busiest in the world.  As much as we love and welcome the skiers and visitors to our national parks, business leaders, foreign leaders and dignitaries and dealmakers come to our state—and they need our airport to get here.

Most importantly, upgrading the airport would create 1,700 jobs. We simply cannot afford to ignore the impact the airport has on our economic performance.

There is no shortage of projects we need to tackle. The question is how do we pay for it all?

The federal government must reauthorize the federal highway program and the funding for it. We also need to consider proposals to eliminate the  federal gas tax so states can keep the money and manage it to meet their needs.

The Chamber has long been an advocate of raising the gas tax. Normally, chambers aren’t known for their support of tax increases. So we prefer to call this one a user fee. That’s really what it is. We believe that, whenever feasible, those who utilize and benefit the most from government services, such as infrastructure, should pay for them.

Economists agree the most efficient and fair tax policy connects the tax to the consumer in the form of user fees. Motor fuel is metered at the pump so transportation funding can be tied to usage through the gas tax. It’s efficient because the government service is tied directly to consumption. It’s fair because those who use the service pay for it. It’s easy to administer and it’s transparent because you see the tax every time you fill up your tank.

Utah’s gas tax has not been increased since 1996. Ours is a fixed per-gallon tax, so it has not kept pace with inflation. It should be indexed. We love more fuel efficiency in cars. But per-gallon taxes, combined with more fuel-efficient cars, means vehicles use the roads just as much while paying less for maintenance, repair and construction. As a consequence, state decision makers have augmented transportation funding with general sales tax revenues to meet our needs.

We continue to support an indexed fuel tax to fund vital transportation projects. Simply put, user fees are the most fair and transparent method of taxation.

We also need more transparency and simplicity in our transportation funding. I believe that will help increase transportation funding. As many of you will recall, last year there was an earmark passed for transportation that was subsequently vetoed by the governor and then the veto was overridden by the legislature. It was an unfortunate series of events.

The most populous areas of the state are projected to grow by one-and-a-half times by 2040. If more transit lines and highways are not constructed, time stuck in congestion will be six times longer than current delays. We want to have the strongest economy in the nation and that means we must maintain a superb transportation infrastructure.

Over the years earmarks have piled up. It’s time that we consolidate confusing and complex sales tax earmarks.

So we face some challenges. That also means we have a tremendous opportunity. Utah’s economy cannot reach its full potential without continued investment in our transportation infrastructure. That requires a movement. It may seem like a large mountain to climb, but we can do it together.

On this date, November 16th, back in 1959, The Sound of Music made its debut on Broadway. I love the inspirational number, “Climb every Mountain.”

Climb ev’ry mountain
Ford ev’ry stream
Follow ev’ry rainbow
‘Till you find your dream

A dream that will need
All the love you can give
Everyday of your life
For as long as you live

The dream we share is to firmly establish our state as the best in the nation. We have so much to be proud of. We have much yet to do

Let us commit today, to redoubling our efforts, to forging new and stronger partnerships, to doing the extraordinary.

Thank you very much.

Justice Lee champions civility in Capitol Club meeting

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

The Capitol Club got a lesson in civility from Utah Supreme Court Justice, Thomas Lee. Today’s Capitol Club meeting was hosted by Ray Quinney & Nebeker.

Justice Lee shared his feelings on the importance of civility in public debate, in government and in law.

Justice Lee pointed out failures to maintain civility on both sides of the political isle. He encouraged Capitol Club members to adopt a habit of civility in their professional lives.

Justice Lee says there are three root causes of our civility problem:

1. Anatomical or chemical
He says we are wired to respond to acts we perceive as threats or attacks with incivility. ”We are committed to civility in the cool comfort of our living room but we lose that commitment in the heat of the dispute.”

2.  Civility does not mean concession
Civility is pushed on us as something we must embrace at the expense of good debate. Justice Lee says that is civility in a caricature. Acting in a civil manner does not prohibit intelligent, passionate debate.

3. The affect of incivility on the listener
Since becoming a judge, Justice Lee says he has noticed how the bombastic, Rambo-like arguments from many lawyers, hurt their ability to be an effective advocate. He says the message gets lost because the listener begins to wonder why it is being presented in such an aggressive manner.

Having identified the three roots, Justice Lee pointed out remedies to the problem. He says we need to educate advocates that it is misguided to believe the argument is better when you use inflammatory language. He also says we need to debunk the misconception of civility—it is better to use civil tones and tactics than to simply attack. Disagreements can be debated on merit, not on volume.

He says we need to surround ourselves with models of civility. Everyone has these people in the workplace: those who will not be taken off point, never engaging in name calling, never questioning motives.

“If we consciously seek to pattern ourselves after their behavior, we can change the way we react. We can gradually move ourselves in the right direction.”

Smith named Chamber general counsel, executive vice president of government relations

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

Some big news concerning the Chamber staff this afternoon. Wesley Smith has been named executive vice president of government relations and general counsel. He will oversee all government relations efforts of Utah’s largest and longest-standing business association and provide legal expertise for our organization.

Smith served as director of public policy for the past three years. During that time the Chamber has played a significant role in several policy areas including economic development, health system reform, the drafting of The Utah Compact and the establishment of the Utah Guest Worker Program, and continued transportation funding.

Smith takes over for Robin Riggs who, after eight years in the same position, is now a partner in a newly created firm, Captus Global Consulting.

Before joining the Chamber, Smith worked as an attorney and was a consultant with The Exoro Group, where he advised clients on government affairs issues. He has also been a policy analyst with the Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, D.C. Smith served President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney in several capacities. His White House experience includes working in the Office of Presidential Advance, the Office of the Vice President and the Office of Counsel to the President.

Smith earned a bachelor’s degree in American Studies from Brigham Young University and a juris doctorate from The George Washington University Law School.

You can read the news release HERE.

Supporting The Utah Compact

Friday, November 11th, 2011

The Salt Lake Chamber released the following statement on the first anniversary of The Utah Compact:

SALT LAKE CITY- (Nov. 11, 2011) One year after joining a group of business, community, civic and religious organizations in signing The Utah Compact, the Salt Lake Chamber reaffirms support for the document. The Utah Compact reframed the immigration discussion in our state and has firmly established Utah as a leading proponent of national immigration reform.

All Utahns should be proud of the important role our state has played in elevating the civility level of this emotional issue. Potential impacts to law enforcement, the economy and families in our community have been placed at the forefront of the discussion, thanks to The Utah Compact.

We urge members of the Utah federal delegation to work together on behalf of the thousands of Utahns who support a balanced approach to immigration reform.

A small event was held at This is the Place Heritage Park to commemorate the signing of The Utah Compact. The date coincides with Veterans Day but was chosen because the pilgrims signed the Mayflower Compact On Nov. 11, 1620.

Here is the video of the speakers at the event:

Chamber honors businesses for workplace flexibility practices

Thursday, November 10th, 2011

Last week, the Salt Lake Chamber Women’s Business Center honored 16 local organizations with the Alfred P. Sloan Award for Business Excellence in Workplace Flexibility. The awards recognize organizations that strive to find new ways to make work, work.

Local recipients of the 2011 Alfred P. Sloan Award for Business Excellence in Workplace Flexibility are:

1-800 CONTACTS

AAA Fair Credit Foundation

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Utah

Café Rio Mexican Grill

Christopherson Business Travel

DigiCert

Equitable Life & Casualty Insurance Company

Futura Industries

Intermountain Financial Group, LLC

Intermountain Healthcare

KPMG

McKinnon-Mulherin, Inc.

PricewaterhouseCoopers

Software Technology Group

Thompson Ostler & Olsen

Vivint, Inc.

“Business doesn’t always fit into the traditional work week and neither do the demands on employees,” said Lane Beattie, president and CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber. “Flexibility is critical from employers and employees. 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.”

“We are honored to receive this recognition,” said David Powell, vice president of human resources at Vivint, one of the honorees. “Our employees are the heart of our company, and making sure they feel supported and appreciated is a real priority. It is because of their hard work and passion that Vivint has been able to achieve the level of success we enjoy.”

The Alfred P. Sloan Award for Business Excellence in Workplace Flexibility is presented locally by the Salt Lake Chamber Women’s Business Center.

“Our research consistently finds that employees in effective and flexible workplaces have greater engagement on the job and greater desire to stay with their organization,” said Ellen Galinsky, president of Families and Work Institute (FWI), a research think tank on workforce and workplace trends that administers the awards. “In addition, they report lower stress levels and better overall health.”

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 2011 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.