Rich McKeown discusses PPACA ruling

Friday, June 29th, 2012

Leavitt Partners’ Rich McKeown on the Supreme Court ruling on PPACA from Salt Lake Chamber on Vimeo.

On Thursday the Supreme Court ruled to uphold President Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Within four hours after the Supreme Court’s ruling on the constitutionality of the policy more commonly known as “Obamacare,” Rich McKeown, president and CEO of Leavitt Partners, a Salt Lake City-based health policy think tank, stepped forward with these remarks on health care reform.

Click here to see the Chamber’s statement on the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Affordable Care Act.

Predicting the Future

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

According to Future Files by Richard Watson, in the future, it won’t be hard to make a stressful day disappear. All you’ll have to do is break out your mind wipe and poof! Bad day gone.

Predicting the future, of course, isn’t an exact science. But futurists who keep an eye on current trends and developments can guess what trends will most likely shape the next fifty years.

In business, it pays to be positioned ahead of a trend, rather than chasing a long-since-sailed ship. So here are five trends Watson says will change our world:

1. Globalization. As the world becomes more connected, people will become more connected to each other. This means that products from around the world will be more in demand. It could also change the way companies do business—many employees will need to communicate globally, which could affect everything from working hours (due to time zones) to language training to learning international customs. It isn’t just knowledge about the world that will be linked, either—personal information will be passed around even more with the advent of gadgets that pick up on your moods, locations, and purchasing habits. If you think privacy is scarce now, it may disappear almost completely in the years to come.

2. Localization. It may seem paradoxical, but many trends produce counter-trends, and Watson believes that due to both increased globalization and an increase in oil prices, people will want to buy products that are produced locally. They will crave what’s familiar, and in the midst of the explosion of products and information from competing nations, people will want to create local distinctiveness. So if your business can produce something homegrown and slap a “Made in the USA” or even a “Locally Grown” label on it, it won’t be long before your local fans take notice.

3. Polarization. If you think the middle class is shrinking now, just wait. Watson predicts that in most developed nations, it will disappear altogether. This means that there will be an increased demand for luxury products and an increased demand for the ultra-cheap. There will be other kinds of polarization, too, such as those who embrace technology, and those who embrace the “good old days.” Markets that serve one niche or the other will do better than those that aim for the middle ground.

4. Anxiety. Changes will happen, and they will happen fast, so people will worry. People will be even more connected than they were before, and with few ways to escape the deluge of information, they’ll be more stressed. Many businesses will sell products to help people relax—anything from the “mind wipes” mentioned above to specialized car lighting to luxury bathtubs.

5. Technology. Machines will continue to become smarter. Some (though not all) futurists even believe that in the next few years, machines will have consciousness. Scientists are much more certain, however, that computers will combine with robotics and nanotechnology, so that robots will take over many tasks currently performed by humans, and we’ll see computer screens on everything. For example, you’ll be able to scan a product you’re considering purchasing at the store to determine how the product fares according to your own pre-set parameters. With wearable computers, disposable computers, “smart” appliances and more, companies and their products will be increasingly accountable to the consumer. So ethics and altruism will drive business even more than they do today, and a company’s or product’s reputation will significantly affect sales.

So when you’re making plans for the future, remember that the world will be different than it is today. Anticipating future trends will help you be successful, and it will give you an edge over your competition. At least that’s my prediction.


Done right, a convention center hotel will benefit the Utah economy

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

Editor’s note: This post was originally published as an op ed in the Deseret News, Tuesday, June 26. Photo courtesy

By Lane Beattie, president and CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber
and Jason Mathis, executive director of the Downtown Alliance

There are great things happening in our community.

With the opening of City Creek Center, downtown is undergoing an urban renaissance that includes dozens of unique small businesses, record setting attendance at community festivals, hundreds of new downtown residents and new corporations coming to town.

Developments like the Utah Performing Arts Center, Capitol Theatre renovation, TRAX light rail to the airport and availability of new restaurant liquor licenses, make this a good time to further develop our convention industry.  Airport accessibility, urban renewal, friendly people, affordability and a stunning natural backdrop should propel our convention business to even greater heights, paying economic dividends along the way. Conventions, and the hundreds of millions of out-of-state dollars they inject into our economy, are an integral part of our rising downtown.

There are many things the business community can do to bring more visitors to Utah. And many things we have already done. We support modernization of liquor laws that protect public safety and reinforce a welcoming and hospitable climate for tourism. We support the rebuild of the Salt Lake City International Airport and endorse the bid for another Olympic Winter Games. We actively work to enhance Utah’s reputation.

Another economic development tool available that will enhance Utah’s tourism industry is a convention center hotel. Many of our competing cities have one – Denver, Phoenix, San Antonio – and Salt Lake City should consider one as well. A large 1,000-room hotel, adjacent to the Salt Palace will generate more local and state taxes from out-of-state delegates, and bring more business to Utah restaurants, entertainment venues, transportation companies and retail stores. More citywide conventions filling the Salt Palace will ultimately also mean more guests spilling over to other hotels.

Even with the tangible economic benefits of a convention center hotel, there are legitimate questions about the public sector’s role in a project like this. Some competing destinations have used government credit or local tax dollars to finance the construction costs of a convention hotel. We do not think that is the appropriate approach for Utah.

There are several private investors who are ready to build this hotel. But before they commit hundreds of millions of dollars to a project like this, they need to understand what role, if any, the public sector will play. The Salt Lake County Council is considering hiring a consultant who would help develop a financing plan that limits public involvement. Financing major projects like this is complicated and it is helpful to have expert advice.

The Salt Lake Chamber spent nearly a year trying to understand the dynamics of a convention hotel. We convened a group of business leaders who visited convention hotels in other cities, reviewed relevant studies and met with local hoteliers. Based on this review, we support a convention center hotel so long as the financing is privately-led and other specific criteria are met. Public financial support for a convention center hotel should be devoted to a public purpose, be limited and consistent with financing used for other significant privately led projects in Salt Lake. We oppose using transient room taxes to help finance a convention center hotel.

State and local governments should also support policies that maximize promotional funds; enhance Utah’s reputation as a welcoming and hospitable state; create a lively arts, cultural and entertainment district downtown and maintain a first-rate public transit system.

We ask the Salt Lake County Council to proceed with a consulting contract to better understand financing options for a convention center hotel. This is the right time to focus on and invest in our tourism and convention industry and continue the positive momentum of a downtown on the rise.

Utah has a way to go in college student success

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

Most consider that they must not have done well on a paper if they earn a D grade. It’s passing—but certainly not a score that’s worth bragging about.

Well, that’s the grade Utah earned in the U.S. Chamber’s newest education report, which placed Utah in the bottom fourth quintile in the nation.

The Leaders and Laggards report, which was released last week, evaluates public post-secondary performance across states.

So where is Utah lacking?

According to the report, the areas in greatest need of improvement in Utah are “Transparency & Accountability, Meeting Labor Market Demand (specifically for 4-year institutions) and Student Access and Success.” These are all areas of interest and concern to the Utah System of Higher Education, which is actively working toward improvement.

Completion, or graduation, rates from 4-year institutions in Utah are low, a concern shared by much of the nation. The state’s two-year institutions, however, receive an above-average grade in completion rates. An economy that demands increasingly skilled workers to fill jobs that will fuel economic growth depends on a steady supply of well-trained graduates. Low college completion rates keep the state from realizing greater prosperity, both individually and collectively.

Notably, Utah places fairly high in “efficiency and cost-effectiveness,” placing in the top 10 in the nation. Those responsible for use of designated resources deserve accolades and respect for their hard work to use resources effectively.

Overall, the report suggests we need to promote degree completion, improve transparency and be open to innovation. It also points out the need for better data systems. All of these are at the heart of discussions aimed at strengthening Utah’s higher education system.

Will Europe decide who is the next U.S. president?

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

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

Elections in Greece maintained the potential to set off a chain of events capable of destabilizing the global financial system on a scale not witnessed since 2008, after the collapse of Lehman Brothers.

Greek citizens voted for the second time in less than two months to elect a new government during this time of crisis. On one hand, the two most historically prominent parties (New Democracy and Pasok) agreed to the terms of the recent bailout for Greece. On the other hand, Syriza a party that promised the Greek people that they would not abide by the terms of the past bailout, but keep the country in the Eurozone had a strong showing. The Greek people chose the safest way to stay in the Eurozone for the short-term. Election results were able to produce a coalition government between the New Democracy, Pasok and Democratic Left parties that will likely be sworn in today.

Last Sunday’s elections were important, because European nations contributing to the bailout (most prominently Germany) indicated that failure to abide by its terms would be unacceptable. Without a scheduled disbursement of funds, Greece would run out of money by July. At that point, an inability to meet obligations would introduce the possibility of Greece reverting back its old currency (the Drachma) to pay bills. This process would not have a legal framework and inflict large losses on loans made by the European Central Bank, private banks from around the world and other European countries.

This mess would not be contained to just Greece either, because markets would then focus on the next weakest members of the Eurozone including Spain and Italy. Nobody knows exactly how such a scenario would play out, but it would be disruptive and fear would surely exacerbate any effects.

Election Influence

What does this have to do with the U.S. Presidential election? The short answer is: a lot. Even President Obama in recent speeches is making the point that what happens in Europe will affect us here. The President and his team understand that the crisis could affect America’s economy enough to influence fall elections.

With so much focus on the economy, it is worth examining how economic data and election calendars will interact. First, sentiment is heavily influenced by the stock market. Events such as elections of the past weekend in Europe produce uncertainty and uncertainty breeds volatility, which then affects sentiment. Aside from the stock market other data releases will surely drive headlines and affect election outcomes. Just take a look at other prominent indicators such as GDP and monthly jobs report from the Department of Labor.

Economic Data

Updated second quarter GDP numbers will be released on August 29th during the Republican National Convention. This will either hurt or amplify the likely message coming out of Tampa that the economy is weak. At the present time, second quarter growth looks weak and somewhat similar to the first quarter. Similarly, a jobs report will be released on September 7th just after the Democratic National convention, which will either hurt or amplify the message coming out of Charlotte.

On September 27th, another GDP report will be released, setting the stage for the Presidential debates in October. If the election is decided during debates and data is poor and reaffirmed as such at the end of September, the debates will be difficult for President Obama and benefit Mitt Romney. However, if data is better than anticipated, trends matter and it will benefit the President.

The first look at third quarter GDP will come in on October 26th, after the last debate. If polls remain close and neither candidate delivers a knockout punch during the debates, then this could tip the scales in a close race. Again, trends matter if there is a feeling of improvement that benefits the incumbent, while the reverse is also true.

Going back to employment, there is a jobs report on November 2nd, the Friday before Election Day. In a close race, this report alone could determine control of Congress and who the next President is, because it is widely reported and whoever it does not benefit will have little time to react to the news.

Economic data, needless to say will be very important during the last few weeks of the campaign. If second quarter data is poor, the narrative changes early-on; such a scenario would benefit Mitt Romney. However, if data improves, that will benefit President Obama who maintains considerable advantages as an incumbent. The biggest factor will be perceived momentum of the economy going from the second quarter through the third quarter. If perceived momentum is slowing, Romney holds an advantage. Again the reverse is true, if perceived momentum is improving, President Obama benefits.

Market Focus

In the middle of election season, markets are sure to begin focusing even more intently on the debt ceiling and expiration of tax cuts and automatic spending cuts already written into law, known as the “fiscal cliff.” This, in addition to problems in Europe, is sure to increase volatility in markets and increasingly affect the real economy as consumers and decision makers delay decisions and reign in spending due to uncertainty.

The reality is much can happen between now and the election, affecting its ultimate outcome. However, it is a sure bet that economic data will influence the election and provide some clues about who the ultimate winner will be.

When it’s all said and done, newly elected leaders will not have much time to act. The fiscal cliff will need to be addressed and at least temporarily remedied within a matter of weeks between the election and end of year. In addition to policy at home, policymakers will also face dangers and concerns from abroad.

All elections are consequential in some respects, but a unique convergence of events and recent episode of policy paralysis around the world make this one particularly important. Interestingly, events shaping economic performance and by extension the election may have origins in places not normally associated with an American politics. While nobody knows exactly how things will play out, there will be clues along the way and the economic data release calendar is a good place to start looking.

Negotiation: Make It Happen

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

If you’re looking for more money or need a flexible schedule, it might fall into your lap. And you might win the lottery this year, too. Let’s face it, if we need something, we have to ask for it. And that means negotiation.

Women sometimes settle for less than they could get. This happens for a number of reasons, but I don’t believe women are less skilled at negotiation. Many disadvantages can be overcome by asking the right questions and being prepared.

1. Do your homework.
When I was working full-time, once I forgot to put my pay stub away and left it in full view on my desk. Pretty soon everyone in my office knew exactly how much I made and started comparing, and I got in major trouble.

Employers can be secretive about salaries, and this can make it very difficult to find out if you’re underpaid or not. If you suspect you’re not making as much as someone else with comparable skills and employment, and asking around your workplace gets you nowhere, you could check with other people in similar professions, call recruiters at other companies or check a salary comparison site to find out what other people who work at similar jobs are making in your area. This is also true if you’re asking for leave or less-than-typical hours—you can talk to other people who’ve been successful at negotiating what you’re asking for and find out what techniques worked for them, either in your office or elsewhere.

2. Know your value.
Despite the recession, many employers still say they have difficulty finding and keeping skilled employees. You help your company. Yes, they’re paying you, but that’s because of the value your work gives them. If your company doesn’t see how valuable your skills and assets are, it doesn’t hurt to remind them. “I’ve been working here for five years, and we’ve got lots of customers here who ask for me by name. My people skills matter to this company.” You’ll look even more impressive if you’ve got numbers to back up your assertions.

3. Show your company how meeting your needs will help them.
This is your basic win-win proposal. The idea of meeting someone else’s needs before you meet your own is not new, but employees who actually apply this concept are valuable because it’s pretty rare in a world where most people are out to help themselves.

If you start with, “I can save this company six figures this year in recruitment, hiring and training costs. And by the way, four of my clients have promised to come back to us next year if I’m still here,” rather than, “If you can’t give me six months’ worth of paid maternity leave, I’m quitting,” you’ll probably get more results.

4. Ask for more than what you want.
This can be hard for some who worry about what will happen to their reputations as go-getters if they appear less than committed, or for others who are afraid of losing their jobs if they appear greedy. According to flexible strategy consultant Cali Williams Yost in her book Work + Life, this fear is common but largely unfounded. In her years of work with clients who negotiate a better work/life fit, she has never seen anyone be immediately fired for making such a request. Even in cases where someone is dismissed after changing their work schedule, there are other factors involved.

What can you reasonably ask for? That depends on your situation. Some negotiators recommend going only as high as the “laugh-in-your-face” level—making the highest possible request that has a chance of being taken seriously. Maybe you think asking for too much isn’t nice or polite, and that’s OK. You probably won’t get it anyway! But if you ask for what you want and nothing more, chances are you’ll end up with less than you want , and you may end up feeling cheated for not getting your perfectly reasonable request. If you’re hoping that you can ask for a small concession and that your boss will give you even more because you’re such a great worker, you’ll probably be waiting a long time.

5. Don’t be afraid of “no”
If your employer is unable or unwilling to give you what you ask, you still have a lot of options; in fact, a good negotiation session can serve to make those choices clearer to you. If you go into negotiation knowing in advance what concessions you are willing to accept and at what point you’ll have to walk away, negotiations will go more smoothly and you’ll feel better prepared. And if things don’t even come close to going your way, what then? Are you willing to leave or change positions within the company?

In any case, asking for what you want (plus some more) gives you a better idea of whether or not your company will work with you. If they can’t or won’t, are the trade-offs worth it to you or could you find other opportunities elsewhere?

Only you can decide, but you’ll never know what might have been possible if you don’t ask.



This guest blog has been provided by Kaylie Astin, founder of Family Friendly Work, for the Women’s Business Center. 

Big changes to the internet could impact your business

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

Big changes coming to the internet from Salt Lake Chamber on Vimeo.

There are some big changes are coming to the internet and it could have a big impact on your business.

The International Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, ICANN, is set to add hundreds of top level domains, or what you know as .com, .net, .info, etc. Get ready to add new versions like .google, .amazon and even .lol.

“This is the biggest single visible change to the internet in its history,” says Shawn Gunnarson, a partner at Kirton McKonkie specializing in internet governance. “We will begin seeing the change in the next year to 18 months and it will affect what most users see online.”

ICANN accepted over 1,900 applications for top level domains (TLD). With an application fee of $185,000 each, it’s a significant investment for groups looking to take control of large portions of the web.

Some of the businesses applying for TLDs are names you would expect. Amazon, Microsoft and Google all applied for multiple TLDs; Apple applied for just one. A new group, Donuts Inc. based in Washington state applied for 300–we’ll do the math for you, that’s over $55 million worth of application fees.

ICANN anticipated receiving around 500 applications; instead, they received four times that amount. Many of the TLD applications are for new nation codes like those used in Canada (.ca) and the United Kingdom (.uk). ICANN also received applications from churches, non-profit organizations and well established brands that have not done much online including Tiffany & Co. Who is not on the list? There’s no .coke or .pepsi.

“So much of our global market place is shrinking as more and more business is done on the internet,” says Gunnarson. “We’ve never done anything like this.”

The question is, can new suffixes like .bank or .app become as prolific as .com?

“Whether or not the folks marketing those names will be as effective in planting them in our brains, only time will tell,” says Gunnarson.

The forthcoming changes to TLDs bring both risks and opportunities for Utah businesses. The risk for potential trademark infringement–some other group buying your business name or web domain with a new TLD (for example, is essentially commandeered by the new But Gunnarson believes Utah businesses are uniquely positioned to take advantage of the high level of bilingual talent in the state. One major change is that TLD will no longer be restricted to Latin characters; you’ll start to see websites that end in .com–but with the .com in Mandarin, Arabic and others.

Local businesses that have concerns about changes to TLDs can make their views known through a public comment process through Aug. 12.

“Businesses should carefully evaluate whether there are risks that they are unaware of right now because of these applications,” says Gunnarson. “They should act in time to mitigate or remove those risks.”

Nominations for Athena Award due soon

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

Every year, the Salt Lake Chamber presents the Athena International Business Leader of the Year Award to an individual involved with the Chamber  who demonstrates excellence, creativity and initiative in business, provides valuable service by devoting time and energy to improve the quality of life for others in the community, and assists women in reaching their full leadership potential.

If you know of someone who fits that criteria, we encourage you to submit an Athena Nomination Form and tell us about this individual or business. The Women & Business Pathfinder Awards will also be selected from those nominations. The due date for submitting nominations is Monday, July 6.

The recipients of the 2012 Athena and Pathfinder wards will be recognized during the Athena Award Luncheon, sponsored by Wells Fargo, which is set to take place on November 8. This luncheon is held in conjunction with the Salt Lake Chamber’s Women & Business Conference sponsored by American Express.

Last year, Beverley Taylor Sorenson received the Athena award for her long-held commitment to education and the arts.

“One of the greatest joys in my life is to see young children as they discover who they are and find ways to unlock the potential they have inside them, which is reward enough in itself,” said Sorenson. “I am truly honored and humbled to receive this award from the Salt Lake Chamber. Giving back has long been a focus of mine and of my family, and I am blessed to be in a position to be able to help and better the communities that have been so good to me and my family over the years.”

The Athena Award was established by Martha Mertz in 1982 in an effort to recognize women for their contributions to Chambers of Commerce worldwide.

Again, the due date for nominations is on Monday, July 6. Click here to fill out a nomination form.

If you have questions about the nomination process, please contact Jackie Sexton at 801.328.5053 or email

Utah business leaders tee off at the Classic Golf Tournament

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

One of the Salt Lake Chamber’s objectives is to bring the business community together to build stronger bonds and relationships–and that’s just what we did on Tuesday with the Classic Golf Tournament.

Dozens of Utah’s business leaders showed up at the Salt Lake Country Club for a beautiful day of putting and driving instead of logging in hours at the office. What could beat that?

As each four-person team passed by the Chamber-sponsored hole, every group said they were having a great time. Not every team was made up of just one company; many golf carts that drove by had up to four different companies represented.

Even golf legend Billy Casper graced everyone with his presence Tuesday afternoon.

At the end of the day, the winning team was Ron Jibson and Rey Butcher (President and VP) from Questar, Republican Chair Tom Wright and Utah Association of Realtors CEO Chris Kyler. They finished the 18-hole course with a score of 59.

After all the putting and driving was done, all the business leaders adjourned for lunch, raffle prizes and to share experiences with each other.

We’d like to thank the beautiful Salt Lake Country Club for hosting the Classic Golf Tournament. A thank you also goes to our event sponsors CB Richard Ellis, Intermountain Healthcare and Rocky Mountain Power as well as all of our hole sponsors listed below for making the Chamber Classic Tournament possible.


-Miller Motorsports
-Burt Brother’s
-Temple Square Hospitality
-Precision Time
-Mountain America Credit
-Zions bank
-The Summit Group
-EnergySolutions/OC Tanner
-Hale Centre Theatre
-America First Credit Union
-Les Olson Company
-Wells Fargo
-Workers Compensation Fund

The Chamber also live-tweeted the event. To get in on all the action that was only glimpsed on here, check out the updates from @saltlakechamber or search for #ClassicSLC on Twitter.


All for one on workplace flexibility

Monday, June 18th, 2012

While it’s true that work/life books, sites and articles don’t all agree on which solutions would work best for promoting workplace flexibility or who should initiate them, there’s one thing most do agree on–workplace flexibility must be a cooperative effort in order to succeed.

If the CEO of a company wants to promote flexibility, but the managers think it will create more work for them, they’re less likely to implement new strategies. If an employee wants to change his schedule, but hears through the office grapevine that schedule changes are reserved only for new mothers (whether that’s true or not), he may not ask for change if he believes he’s just going to be shot down. If a manager calls a meeting to introduce flexibility programs to her employees, but the employees complain about having to fill in for co-workers who leave early, a lack of support can derail the new programs unless those concerns are resolved.

So how do you get everyone on board? Whether you’re an employee, a manager, or the CEO, here are a few suggestions:

If you’re an employee, make your request as easy for everyone else as possible. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to water down your needs. It just means you need to show how your employer’s needs will be fulfilled. If you’re going to leave early on Fridays, does someone else need to be there to answer the phone or will you still be available for emergencies by cell phone? If you’re job sharing, which one of you will cover which aspects of the job? Plan well enough to assure your managers and your co-workers that you’re not going to give them more job headaches than they already have.

If you’re a manager, it’s important for you to involve your employees as much as possible in the process. Many employees are afraid to ask for flexibility because they worry that they’ll appear less committed to their jobs or be relegated to a position with less pay and/or responsibility. They may even worry about losing their jobs. You can do a lot to reassure your employees by letting them know flexibility is a viable option. Two ideas for doing this are: treating employees with alternative schedules equally when it comes to promotion eligibility or taking a more flexible schedule yourself as an example.

As an employer, it’s up to you to show how committed you are to your flexibility programs. You can create focus groups, committees or partnerships in your organization to give you some input into how flexibility is working and whether or not your strategies need tweaking. You can train managers and employees on effective flexibility strategies. You can reward managers who successfully implement flexibility, and you can measure and report the results of flexibility on your organization’s bottom line. If you treat flexibility as a business strategy rather than a perk, employees will trust that flexibility is an integral, long-lasting part of your organization.

It is possible to make changes, and when it comes to flexibility, those changes are worthwhile. The more your organization works together, the more likely it is that your flexibility strategies will succeed.



This guest blog has been provided by Kaylie Astin, founder of Family Friendly Work, for the Women’s Business Center.