Taxes to increase in 2013. Congress to the rescue?

Friday, April 27th, 2012
Editor’s note: this post was authored by Darin Mellott, senior analyst at CBRE, and was originally published on ksl.com. Mr. Mellott is a member of the Chamber’s Utah Economic Council.

At the end of 2012, taxes are going up and spending is going down. If present law is not modified, the U.S. will experience a very stiff economic headwind in 2013 resulting from the implementation of laws already passed. Even less comforting is this fact: the only thing standing in the way of an economic disaster is a series of good decisions by congress.

Current estimates indicate such a shock would be equivalent to 3.5-5 percent of GDP. With GDP growth rates around two percent, it is easy to see why such a scenario would be so damaging. In simple terms, there is not enough economic growth to counter such a rapid increase in taxes and cuts in spending.

The Joint Committee on Taxation presented a report in January of this year outlining tax breaks set to expire between 2012 and 2022. At 70 pages, the document contains a list of expiring support for a range of policies that is sure to upset people across the political spectrum.

Over the short-term, there are several tax breaks that will expire affecting a large number of people. The expiration of the payroll tax cut, Bush tax cuts, alternative minimum tax patch and automatic budget cuts mandated by the debt ceiling deal will affect the largest portion of the population.

Payroll tax

At the end of the year, the two percent payroll tax holiday enacted in 2011 and extended through 2012 will expire. This tax cut was passed as part of a budget compromise in late 2010 and presented as an important boost to the recovery. The Obama administration highlighted its importance to struggling citizens during the fight to extend the tax cut into 2012, making the case that it meant $1,000 annually to a typical family.

Bush tax cuts

Looming even larger over the U.S. fiscal outlook and households however, are the Bush tax cuts. Enacted in 2001 and 2003, these tax cuts became extremely polarizing over the years, in part, because of their size and makeup and also due to the current fiscal situation.

One estimate reported by CNN stated that the Bush tax cuts carry a value of $3.7 trillion over ten years. The Bush tax cuts brought rates down from a range of 15-39 percent to a range of 10-35 percent. In short, all income levels would be affected if their expiration were to be allowed. Furthermore, the child tax credit would be reduced in half going from $1,000 to $500 per child. Taxes on capital gains and dividends would also rise from their current 15 percent. Long-term capital gains or gains from assets held for more than a year would increase by 33 percent, going from 15 percent to 20 percent. Meanwhile, dividends taxed at 15 percent currently, would be taxed as ordinary income.

In real-life terms, analysis from the Wall Street Journal and American Institute of CPAs shows a single person making $40,000 a year would see their taxes increase by $400 a year. A couple earning $80,000 a year would see their tax bill increase $2,200.

Alternative Minimum tax

Also set to hit a large number of Americans is the expiration of a short-term fix for the alternative minimum tax. If this short-term fix were to expire, almost every married taxpayer with an income range of $100,000 to $500,000 will owe the government more money under the alternative tax, according to the Congressional Budget Office. An analysis by ABC News puts the impact at $3,900 to $8,000 more a year in taxes, on average for those hit with an increase.

Automatic budget cuts

Unfortunately, policymakers are not just facing decisions regarding tax increases. Due to the inability of leaders to reach a long-term deficit reduction deal during the debt ceiling debate and subsequent failure of the “super committee,” $1.2 trillion of spending cuts over the next ten years will be automatically implemented starting in 2013. The cuts are split evenly between domestic and defense programs. While many support fiscal restraint, the composition of the cuts mandated by the debt ceiling compromise is problematic, even for fiscal hawks.

It is important to note all of these tax increases and spending cuts are already written into law. If nothing is done to alter the course of fiscal policy, scenarios just outlined will become reality. However, most experts anticipate legislative action to prevent the execution of such a nightmarish confluence of bad policy.

Uncertainty

Although these changes are set to take place in 2013, uncertainty makes it hard for families and businesses alike to plan ahead. As a result, decisions, particularly those requiring capital investments are put off or delayed. This kind of policy uncertainty acts as a sort of restraint, tempering economic performance.

Today, millions of Americans are without work or struggling to work the hours needed to provide for themselves and in many cases, their families. Those who do have jobs are struggling with stagnant wages and a higher cost of living. Furthermore, rising gas prices act as a tax, already erasing most of the positive impact from the payroll tax holiday.

High stakes

In the summer of 2011, S&P downgraded the sovereign credit rating of the U.S. If the status-quo is maintained, America’s unsustainable fiscal trajectory would surely trigger more downgrades. Doing nothing is not an option. Another scenario could see one party holding out and using existing law to strengthen its negotiating position, which could be very disruptive to economic growth. The most anticipated scenario is one where congress, both in the lame duck session and in 2013, would pass legislation allowing for more palatable adjustments in tax and fiscal policy. However, to avoid deterioration in the country’s outlook, such a fix must also address the long-term debt trajectory. One point that must be clear to everyone is that gridlock is not good and is not a responsible option.

With such large policy questions hanging over the economy, the sheer magnitude of action required increases the chance for policy error. With high-stakes, any error on the part of policy makers could do real damage to the economy at a time when it is still vulnerable.

U.S. now has highest corporate tax rate in the world

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

The United States recently took over a No. 1 ranking we’d rather not have.

Japan’s corporate tax rate dropped at the beginning of this month, meaning the U.S. now officially taxes corporations at the highest rate in the world–35 percent.

This week, Natalie Gochnour, the Chamber’s chief economist told the Board of Governors how closely tied the Utah economy is to the U.S. economy. She showed the chart indicating the similarity in Utah’s economic peaks and troughs and those of the nation as a whole.

Yes, our unemployment rate is and has been lower than the nation’s. And yes, we are growing at a faster pace. But over the long run, we cannot be successful alone. A corporate tax that drives business away from America does economic harm to Utah.

The Salt Lake Chamber joined the U.S. Chamber and dozens of other chambers of commerce and business associations representing thousands of businesses across the country in favor of the “Tax Hike Prevention and Business Certainty Act” (S. 1647 and H.R. 3091).

Unless Congress acts by the end of 2012, the tax rate for capital gains will increase from 15 percent to 20 percent and the dividend tax rate will more than double from 15 percent to 39.6 percent. In addition, beginning in 2013 investment income will be subject to an additional Medicare Hospital Insurance (HI) tax of 3.8 percent, raising the top rate on capital gains to 23.8 percent and on dividend income to 43.4 percent, resulting in one of the largest tax increases in U.S. history.

A tax increase of this size will have significant impact, discouraging capital investment needed for economic growth and job creation, giving companies an incentive to use excessive debt financing and potentially reducing the value of dividend-paying stocks. Any of these outcomes would hurt Americans at all income levels, and especially retirees, many of whom rely on investment income as a supplement to their retirement.

This looming tax increase presents businesses and individuals with uncertainty and great complexity in the short-term. Looking ahead, comprehensive fundamental tax reform could result in giving taxpayers more certainty, simplicity and fairness, while encouraging economic growth and job creation. In the interim, Congress must act to maintain the current tax rates on capital gains and dividend income and give businesses and individual investors the certainty that they need to support economic growth and job creation.

The Salt Lake Chamber works to cultivate an environment that allows businesses to grow and prosper. Low taxes, reasonable regulations, top-notch infrastructure, a great workforce along with a well-managed and limited government create the environment for economic success.

Chamber supports interconnection of Utah resorts

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

This morning the Salt Lake Chamber reaffirmed it support for the interconnection of the world-class ski resorts that boast the Greatest Snow on Earth.

Chamber President and CEO Lane Beattie has agreed to co-chair the Lift Utah coalition, a group that will develop the best path forward to protect Utah’s unsurpassed natural environment while advancing Utah’s ski industry.

You can read the Chamber’s statement as well as Lane Beattie’s comments from the news conference this morning.

For 125 years the Chamber has been a place where groups with differing opinions have come together to find the best path forward. We’re proud to play that role again.

LIFT UTAH COALITION
Remarks delivered by Lane Beattie, president and CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber, at the news conference launching Lift Utah, a group he co-chairs with Former Senator Jake Garn and Sandy Mayor Tom Dolan.

Good morning. Thank you for joining us today at the Salt Lake Chamber offices. I want to thank Senator Garn, Mayor Dolan and other community leaders for being here today as we express our collective support for Utah’s ski and snowboard industry and the interconnection of several of our world class ski resorts.

Yesterday the Salt Lake Chamber marked our 125th anniversary. Since 1887 we have worked to achieve common ground for the common good. The Salt Lake Chamber is hosting this event, in part, because of our long history of convening community leaders for the betterment of this city and state.

Whether it is mining copper in the Oquirrh Mountains, championing air quality in Salt Lake Valley, investing in TRAX light rail and FrontRunner commuter rail, recruiting the Utah Jazz, building a convention center, expanding the Salt Lake airport, supporting the Utah Symphony and Opera, … or, in the case of today, connecting ski resorts, we work with others to champion community prosperity.

Given all of the tough issues we’ve gotten involved in over our history, I’ve even considered placing a sign in our boardroom that says, “Chambers do hard things!”

We’ve found over the years that when people come together and work on the hard things, the community benefits. Progress starts with coalitions of community-minded people working together.

The Salt Lake Chamber’s involvement with the Utah ski industry stretches all the way back to the Great Depression. It was a challenging time. Many business leaders desired to grow the Utah economy by positioning Salt Lake City as a winter headquarters for the Western States.

In 1937 business leaders formed the Salt Lake Winter Sports Association with the goal of establishing Utah’s first ski area. Business leaders raised $10,000 to build a ski lift at Alta, the nation’s second chair lift.

For 15 cents a ride or $1.50 a day, skiers could be carried 2,630 feet up the mountain. Skiing in Utah was born.

Today we face a far different challenge. This initial investment has paid off. Utah’s ski and snowboard opportunities are arguably the finest in the world. Our high altitude, paper-dry powder, variety of terrain and accessibility to an international airport are unrivaled.

And we have the opportunity to make it even better.

By connecting the Salt Lake and Summit County resorts we can create a unique ski experience unmatched by any in North America.

We can carefully develop Utah’s ski and snowboard industry from a $1.2 billion economic asset to something that will pay even greater dividends to Utahns in the form of jobs and income for residents.

We can enhance the already best skiing experience in America and use it to attract new business to Utah.

We can secure our future as the United States’ winter sports capital, and potentially host another Olympic Winter Games.

And, we can take cars off the road and create a net positive impact on our environment.

But, we have to do it right.

That is why I agreed to co-chair the Lift Utah Coalition. The Salt Lake Chamber supports the SkiLink proposal, but only if it meets well-defined criteria.

First, SkiLink must be a net positive for the environment. The Salt Lake Chamber and our members care deeply about the Wasatch Mountains. They are paramount to the Greater Salt Lake area’s watershed and natural beauty. We depend on them for recreation and solace. We also value clean air and the transportation benefits SkiLink will bring. The Salt Lake Chamber will not, and I personally will not, support any actions in the Wasatch Canyons that detract from these values.

Second, SkiLink must pass the scrutiny of the local review of Salt Lake and Summit Counties. Much of these lands are in the public domain. Extensive local review, including public hearings, must occur. I expect there will be strong feelings by both proponents and opponents. Process matters and SkiLink should have careful public review.

You will hear today that SkiLink is a first step to a new interconnected ski experience. It’s time that we as a community consider options, weigh the benefits and costs, and make decisions about how to proceed. Connecting the ski resorts can be done in an economically and environmentally responsible manner.

I’m honored to co-chair this effort and represent the members of the Salt Lake Chamber in our collective interest to develop the Utah ski industry, protect our natural environment and represent the interests of so many great people who call this state home.

Thank you.

Chamber celebrates 125 years of business leadership

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

Industry is part of the fiber of Utah. The beehive, a local symbol of industry, is seen throughout the state as a symbol of hard work and dedication to building something better. On this day 125 years ago–all the way back in 1887–a group of local business leaders came together to cultivate an environment where businesses could thrive.

From the beginning, the Chamber has played a major role in building Utah’s economy. We have united the community on tough issues, promoted the state and focused on improving the state’s infrastructure.

The Chamber played a critical role in developing the Salt Lake International Airport and in convincing Delta Air Lines to make it a service hub. In fact, former chairman of the Chamber’s aviation committee, Ben Redman, was the nation’s first airline passenger.

The Chamber has worked tirelessly to bring new industries and new jobs to our state. Today we boast a diverse economy that is among the fastest growing in the nation, attracting business to the Intermountain West while helping locally-started Utah businesses grow.

Even the sports landscape would look different in Utah without the Chamber’s help. Former Chamber President Fred Ball played a key role in bringing the team to Utah from New Orleans. Ball and the Chamber sold the first 6,000 season tickets for the team–convincing then owner Sam Battistone to move the club. The Jazz have become one of the most recognizable symbols of our state. When Gov. Herbert led a trade mission to China, he was frequently asked about the Jazz and was surprised to see just how much Chinese officials appreciated his gifts of autographed basketballs.

The Chamber also played a big role in securing the bid for the 2002 Olympic Winter Games. No single event has done more for the state’s worldwide visibility. Utah continues to reap the benefits of being an Olympic host city to this day and the Chamber strongly supports the recently announced effort to host the 2022 Games.

Today, the Chamber represents some 7,700 businesses scattered across each of Utah’s 29 counties. We represent over 500,000 Utah workers–more than half the workforce of our state. Embracing a new era of business leadership, the Chamber fights for business in a number of ways. We tackle economic development issues. We are pushing for investment and education in our future workforce through the Prosperity 2020 movement. We continue to strongly support investment in our mobility infrastructure. We champion the Utah solution to the immigration issue. We support clean air policies. We fight to contain rising health care costs. We support the responsible development of Utah’s energy economy. We also partner with World Trade Center Utah to boost international exports and with the Downtown Alliance to strengthen our capital city.

We thank the thousands of businesses who are actively engaged in the on-going process to help Utah reach its potential. From our roots as the Commercial Club of Salt Lake to our undisputed position as Utah’s Business Leader today, the Salt Lake Chamber has stood as the voice of business, supported our members’ success and championed community prosperity for a century and a quarter.

Here’s to another 125 years of business leadership!

Engaging business in rural Utah

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

In January 2011, the Chamber introduced The Utah Jobs Agenda, a 10-point, private sector plan to create 150,000 jobs over five years. One element of that plan was to create a private-led partnership with representatives of rural Utah. Last week, the Chamber took steps toward that goal, hosting the 10th Annual Rural Business Conference in Richfield.

President of Grow America Alan Hall kicked off the conference with a keynote presentation. Grow America is an organization committed to economic growth and stimulation by supporting entrepreneurs—making it very fitting for Hall to lead the group for this conference.

Hall encouraged the conference participants to leverage their entrepreneurial skills and ambitions for the start-up of new companies. He recognized that entrepreneurship requires huge sacrifice, but he explained that such sacrifice creates the potential of huge value to founders, employees and economies. As he “put his money where his mouth is,” Hall invited attendees to register for the Springboard Competition that Grow America is hosting and is also contributing $1 million in prize money.

During the breakout portion of the conference, Utah business leaders had the opportunity to meet with professionals ranging in industries and specialties based on their needs, ranging from start-up financing to email marketing to international exporting.

Following lunch, Pete Codella from Codella Marketing presented a keynote address on social media marketing and its vital role in business today. Between defining terms like “Twitter handle” and “viral video,” Codella shared statistics and strategies for implementing and maintaining a social media presence. He explained that social media marketing is essential, not just a one-time affair but an ongoing active strategy.

Attendees for this year’s Rural Business Conference responded very positively to the event, providing wonderful feedback.

The Salt Lake Chamber along with its many sponsors and supporters look forward to bringing Rural Utah together again next spring to learn of one another’s successes and to share information relevant to rural business in Utah for 2013.

Lessons Learned: Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company, Follow your passions

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

As the Chamber celebrates its 125 years of business leadership, we have invited several members to share some of the lessons they’ve learned over the years. This post was authored in first person by Joan J. Woodbury, Co-Founder Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company.

Although Shirley Ririe and I founded Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company in 1964, we actually worked together much earlier than that. We met in 1952 when I was teaching dance at the University of Utah and she was teaching at BYU. Our aspirations and love of dance were so similar that we immediately adored each other decided to make a dance together. We called it “On the Boards,” since it was about two Vaudeville performers competing with each other, and over the years “competition” has been anything but the case.  This year we share the 60th anniversary of our “Mutual Appreciation Society” and  next year, our 2013- 2014 season will be the 50th anniversary of our company.

As I begin to contemplate all of the wonderful lessons I have learned in the “life journey” of our company, I find myself smiling as I write.

-Choose what you want to do with your life and go there with great passion.  Choose what you love to do… no matter what. Don’t ever settle for less. However, if you find yourself in a job that is not your absolute first choice, direct your energies toward making it challenging and enjoyable.

-Dream a lot, and then follow those dreams.

-If you’re not sure what you want to do, think about the kind of  people you want to be around. My interest has always been those people who love the arts… dance, music, literature, the visual arts including film and sculpture, and peole who are creative, curious, interesting, talented, active, alive, flexible, who listen, want to contribute to the quality of life, are generous and sharing, and indeed, a little crazy.

-Align yourself with someone you like, respect and admire. My partnership with Shirley has lasted a very long time, far longer than most marriages nowadays. We respect and support each other while also having different strengths to bring to the company. This has kept the working process creative, surprising and very interesting.

-Seek out wonderful mentors who are willing to help along the way and give you’re their sound advice and encouragement. And then, be sure to listen to it.

-Hire the most creative people you can find, those who also want to work with you.

-Stay positive… let the little set backs be small and the dreams large.

-Stay out of debt.  Be financially responsible. We knew we didn’t have any individual “sugar daddies” to bail us out. As we were growing, one seemed to want to sponsor contemporary dancers with bare feet, who really have something incredible (yet perhaps sometimes a bit controversial) to communicate.

-Be persistent and stay committed to your cause.

-Let those who support you know that you appreciate them constantly.

-Enjoy every moment of the ride.

Chamber survives Great Utah Shakeout

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

The Salt Lake Chamber was proud to participate in the Great Utah Shakeout–a statewide earthquake drill to help everyone be better prepared in the event of a large earthquake.

Chamber employees got word the disaster had struck at 10:15 a.m. and were told to quickly seek a safe location. Daniel Seelos from our business development team stayed safe (and kept on working on his iPad) under his desk.

We think some employees may have stayed under their desks a little too long… you’re probably not going to take a nap during an actual emergency.

Most Chamber employees knew exactly where to go to protect themselves form ceiling panels, light fixtures and the large panels of glass that make up the exterior of the Chamber building. For those that didn’t, this was a great opportunity to make a plan.

After the drill, the entire staff met to discuss what we had learned and to enjoy some “Great Shakes” of our own concoction.

Utah businesses need to be prepared for the potential of an earthquake-related emergency. The Chamber gladly supports efforts to prepare Utah businesses. Employees should be taught how to react and what to do in case of an earthquake prior to the drill. During the drill, have your employees practice the Drop, Cover, and Hold On — the earthquake equivalent to “Stop, Drop and Roll” — for at least 60 seconds.

Visit ShakeOut.org/Utah for more information.

 

Lessons Learned: United Way of Salt Lake, we’re all connected

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

As the Chamber celebrates 125 years of business leadership, we have invited several members to share some of the lessons they’ve learned over the years.

The United Way of Salt Lake began over 100 years ago when a group of Salt Lake visionaries, called together by Reverend Elmer I. Goshen of the First Congregational Church, organized a society whose primary objectives were to discourage the growth of pauperism and grafting, and to promote the general welfare of the poor. Frustrated by increased and constant charitable requests and also by gaps in providing relief to the needy, the society aimed to become a clearinghouse for charitable causes. Thus the Salt Lake Charity Association was organized in October 1904. Reverend Goshen said the association will give businessmen the ability to make one donation to an organization that will ensure “there will not be a worthy man in the community without help, and not a grafter in the community who can get help” (Organized for Charity, Leading Citizens in the Movement, The Salt Lake Tribune, 1904).

Over the past century, United Way has undergone many name changes, from the Salt Lake Charity Association, to the United Fund, to the United Way of Salt Lake. Despite these changes, United Way has continued to function as an invaluable leader and partner in creating lasting changes in community conditions. United Way of Salt Lake still operates under fundamental principles outlined a century ago including:

-Be a bureau of information for the community
-Foster communication and harmonious cooperation between nonprofits and the broader community
-Check the overlapping of relief work
-Function without questioning religious or political beliefs and nationality

While we remain true to our fundamental principles, we know that in order to serve the community we also much embrace change since society and issues facing children and families become increasingly complex. This past year has been one of tremendous growth and transformation for United Way of Salt Lake. As we transformed our organization and adopted the Collective Impact approach to community problem solving, we learned many lessons from our history:

-Despite being more complex, the issues we have today are very much the same as they were 100 years ago. We must continue to focus on breaking down barriers for families to break cycles of poverty, lack of education, poor health and crime so that children and families have the same chance as everyone else to succeed in school and life.

-We have learned that there are many great organizations doing amazing things, but together, we can make a more significant impact on the lives of children and families. One organization working alone cannot solve our community’s problems. However, dozens of partners working together across community sectors—business, foundations, schools, churches and nonprofits—can change the odds for entire communities.

-We have learned that research and data is the key to ensuring results. We must continue to be a “bureau of information for the community”—tracking and reporting on our progress while we continuously alter the way problems are addressed. This takes innovation and courage. It’s not easy to admit when something isn’t working and change is sometimes hard. But it is the only way to know if we are truly making a difference.

-We know that everyone has a role to play. No matter how much time an individual has to engage in the community, every minute counts toward making a difference in someone’s life. We can all be the change. Beyond giving, individuals can lend their voice as advocates for change, and their time as volunteers.

Over the years, the most important thing we have learned, we have learned from our partners, our volunteers, our donors, our community leaders and the thousands of kids and families who are impacted by our work. It is not really a lesson, but a belief we hold true—the belief that as members of this community, we are all connected. We all win when a child succeeds in school, when neighborhoods turn around, when families are financially stable, and when people are healthy and productive. Over the course of our 100 years, we have never lost sight of that belief.  It motivates and drives our work. We know that when we think of others’ lives as linked to our own and to our community, our compassion and ability to make real and lasting change grows.

As we look back, we feel very proud of our strong history. As one of the first established nonprofit organizations in Salt Lake City, we know we have a huge responsibility to continue to serve the community and lead social change efforts.  We feel very fortunate that we have caring, dedicated and compassionate champions of our work who generously give their time, talent and resources to advance the education, income stability and health of our neighborhoods. We feel so honored to work side by side with so many individuals and organizations that work to improve lives and build a stronger community for us all.

Caine’s Arcade shows young entrepreneur spirit

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

The entrepreneurial spirit of America can manifest itself in the most unlikely places.

Case in point: Caine Monroy is a nine-year-old boy who spent last summer constructing an arcade from cardboard boxes at his dad’s auto repair shop in Los Angeles. Despite a lack of walk-in customers, Caine never gave up on his dream of running his cardboard arcade.

It paid off in a big way when Nirvan Mullick came in for a door handle, but saw the “elaborate cardboard arcade” and asked Caine how much it was to play. With a business mind, Caine decided the cost would be $1 for four turns or $2 for a Fun Pass–that’s good for 500 turns.

Nirvan purchased a Fun Pass—and in the process he became the first customer of Caine’s Arcade.

Nirvan also happens to be a filmmaker and he decided to tell Caine’s story. The video has gone viral. We love how it highlights the natural entrepreneurial spirit that is very much alive in today’s younger generation.

Since it was posted online last week, Caine’s Arcade has garnered over 4.5 million views and over 165 thousand dollars have been donated to Caine’s Scholarship Fund. Goldhirsh Foundation is also matching every dollar contributed into the Caine’s Arcade Foundation up to $250 thousand to support more kids.

This goes to show that strong education and a supportive environment where children can develop their skills and creativity are crucial to ensuring a strong business community in the future. It’s because of kids like Caine that we all can have faith and hope in younger generations taking the lead someday… probably sooner than we expect.

Lessons Learned: U.S. Translation Company, customer satisfaction equals success

Monday, April 16th, 2012

As the Chamber celebrates 125 years of business leadership, we have invited several members to share some of the lessons they’ve learned over the years.

In 1993, Peru was under attack and in the midst of being overthrown by the Maoist Sendero Luminoso terrorist organization. They bombed power plants, compromised water sources, killed over 25,000 police officers and infiltrated universities to spread their communist rhetoric.

Born and raised in the capital city of Lima, David Utrilla was a college student studying economics and politics when Sendero Luminoso began invading his university. Bombs shook the capital and machine gun fire filled the streets. Utrilla and his family had limited water supply and electricity rations of 1-2 hours a day.

Dreaming of something better and harboring a desire to excel, Utrilla knew he had to leave his home. Speaking little English with no job, no home and $200 in his pocket, David Utrilla took the greatest risk of his life and came to the United States on a political asylum visa. A friend from Peru, living in Ogden, gave him a place to live and helped him get a job. Utrilla quickly enrolled at Weber State University and began studying business administration.

Utrilla learned English, worked and volunteered, trying to assimilate to his new home. After realizing that many of the educational materials from Peru were the same as those used in the U.S., just in different languages, he opened U.S. Translation Company (USTC) to provide professional written translation.

Utrilla learned that in order to run a successful business, he had to provide a high-quality product on time. Although these elements were built into the business model, clients needed proof. In order to establish credibility, USTC achieved ISO 9001:2000 certification in 2004, making it the first SBA 8(a) language firm to do so. Since then, USTC received its ISO 9001:2008 certification upgrade in the fall of 2009 and the European EN 15038 standard in 2010. Finally, to position itself against industry “giants,” Utrilla made a commitment to exceed client’s expectations by providing unparalleled personal and eager customer service—something lacking in this industry. That same pursuit and passion for customer service thrives today. In 2010, the GSA randomly polled 20 of USTC’s clients and reported a customer service rating of 99 out of 100.

Utrilla’s 2010 induction as Utah’s Honorary Consul to Peru was one of the greatest accomplishments of his personal and professional career. Utrilla was selected for this volunteer position due to his extensive knowledge of business, his passion to help corporations in both countries succeed abroad and because of how well he is respected by both his peers and top officials. The President of Peru and the U.S. Department of State made this designation official.

In 2007, the Salt Lake Chamber recognized USTC with the Minority Small Business of the Year award.

Since receiving that award, U.S. Translation Company has grown 139 percent, added 10 employees and relocated their headquarters to downtown Salt Lake City. Since becoming a member of the Salt Lake Chamber, USTC has leveraged international events to better understand the international business community’s needs and meet prospective clients to help grow local, national and international clientele.