Op-ed: Flexible, Utah-specific solution best for Medicaid

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

Editor’s note: This op-ed was written by Marc Bennett and Andrew Croshaw (from the Chamber’s Health System Task Force) for the Salt Lake Tribune. You can find the original here. 

While Utah would not have chosen the difficult dilemma we now face, action on the issue of expansion of Medicaid coverage must be taken to respond to a significant flaw in the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Why is this? Utahns are paying hundreds of millions of dollars in federal taxes in order to fund insurance subsidies and Medicaid expansion occurring in other states. While this is neither fair nor right, it is the current reality.

So, what can we do?

As one of the best managed, most fiscally prudent and business friendly states in the nation, Utah should embrace a solution that is flexible and Utah-specific. Our business community and our citizens already benefit from a state health system that is the envy of the nation. The innovations, efficiencies and talented work force in Utah’s health care industry drive down costs and deliver better outcomes for our state.

We need a Utah solution that considers the financial resources of our state and also the health needs of our most vulnerable citizens. Our solution must avoid leaving some 60,000 Utahns without health care coverage. Failure to do so will ensure increased health care premiums for all insured Utahns and for every business in our state, as we all pay for the costs of uncovered emergency room utilization and other unpaid care.

Our community will be healthier and financially stronger as we utilize available federal dollars to provide access to health coverage for the poorest among us. This is both the right thing for our citizens most in need and the right thing for our economy.

We should pursue all available federal dollars to develop a flexible solution that strengthens a competitive, private insurance market, promotes individual accountability by those receiving assistance, and prevents the state from being left on the hook for providing additional ongoing benefits if the federal government becomes unable or unwilling to hold up its end of the bargain.

We believe these aims can be achieved through the innovative approach Gov. Gary Herbert is proposing.

The difficult choices that now lay before the Legislature are complex. Sound economic and moral principles drive good public policy.

To that end, we should advance Herbert’s proposal to keep Utahns’ hard earned dollars in Utah to care for the poorest among us while also strengthening the private health care market.

This week on the Utah Business Report

Friday, January 24th, 2014

In case you missed one or more of the Salt Lake Chamber’s Utah Business Reports on KSL NewsRadio, here is a recap of what we talked about this week.

Last week, the Chamber released its 2014 Public Policy Guide—a special publication that outlines the business community’s priorities for the upcoming General Legislative Session.

The 2014 Public Policy Guide is a Chamber publication, but it represents the broad-based support of chambers of commerce across the state as well as other important business associations. These are the priorities of Utah’s diverse business sectors from across the state and it’s critical that we speak with one voice.

The guide outlines the Chamber’s position on policy issues including economic development, education, transportation, water, energy and minerals, clean air, outdoor recreation and tourism, Downtown Rising, immigration, international competitiveness, and small business.

The Salt Lake Chamber is Utah’s largest business association and Utah’s business leader, representing 7,850 businesses and approximately 500,000 Utah jobs—nearly half the workforce of our state.

The 2014 Public Policy Guide is available on our website, www.slchamber.com.

One week ago today, the Salt Lake Chamber chair Ron Jibson was honored as the 2014 Laureate by the Utah Business Hall of Fame. This is a well-deserved honor and I’m so pleased Ron was recognized.

Ron serves as CEO, president and chair of Questar Corporation. He has been with Questar for the past 30 years where he started as a design engineer. Ron also has a hefty belt of boards he serves on. He’s currently on the boards of the United Way of Salt Lake, Utah Shakespearean Festival, the Economic Development Corporation of Utah, and the Utah Foundation.

The Utah Business Hall of Fame was established in 1990 by Junior Achievement of Utah, which Ron served as past chair for. It recognizes past and present business leaders of Utah for their outstanding and enduring contributions to improving the products, processes, efficiencies and human relations of business.

By honoring those whose lifetime accomplishments can inspire others to become Utah’s best, like Ron, the Utah Business Hall of Fame provides examples for today’s young people to emulate.

Last Friday, a group of leading economists released a consensus economic forecast predicting positive performance in 2014. Job growth, income growth and unemployment are all expected to improve as the Beehive State continues to outperform national economic conditions.

Utah stands out among a handful of states that are leading the nation in job growth. In 2013, job growth is expected to match the state’s historical average of 3.1 percent. This contrasts with a national job growth rate forecast of 1.7 percent. Unemployment in Utah is forecast to remain below 4.5 percent, as the nation continues to struggle with much higher unemployment rate than Utah.

Economists pointed out that Utah’s tech and energy sectors are the industries to watch in 2014. Utah’s housing industry is also critical in sustaining strong job performance.

We have the ingredients for economic success – a committed business community, smart fiscal management on Capitol Hill, low business costs and an attractive workforce. We saw improvements in 2013 and I expect the Utah economy to continue to prosper. For more information, visit www.slchamber.com.

Utah’s Olympic Legacy has been revitalized this winter. The U.S. Speedskating team for the 2014 Olympic Winter Games was announced in Salt Lake City not too long ago.

A fun little thing to note is that all of the athletes on 2014 U.S. Olympic Short Track Speedskating Team currently live in the Salt Lake City area. The athletes are Jessica Smith, Emily Scott, Alyson Dudek, J.R. Celski, “Eddy” Alvarez, Christopher Creveling, Jordan Malone, and Christopher Kyle Carr.

The athletes on the 2014 U.S. Olympic Long Track Speedskating Team are Brittany Bowe, Lauren Cholewinski, Kelly Gunther, Maria Lamb, Heather Richardson, Anna Ringsred, Jilleanne Rookard, Sugar Todd, Shani Davis, Tucker Fredricks, Jonathan Garcia, Brian Hansen, Jonathan Kuck, Emery Lehman, Joey Mantia, Patrick Meek, and Mitch Whitmore.

With the 2014 Olympic Winter Games set to start on February 7, I’d like to invite you to celebrate Utah’s Olympic Legacy by wearing your Olympic coats, hats and other memorabilia starting February 8—the anniversary of the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City. I hope you’ll join me!

If you’re looking for a fun vacation this year, the Salt Lake Chamber is taking not one, but two international trips in 2014. We’d love for you to join us!

Now is the perfect time to start planning your summer vacation. Cruise with the Chamber in May as we set sail for the Eastern Mediterranean on board the Norwegian Jade, “Europe’s Leading Cruise Line.” Enjoy five ports of call in Italy, Croatia, Greece and Turkey on this 9-day trip. The price includes airfare and taxes for the cruise.

And in October, we will explore the Wonders of Thailand. This international trip includes visits to Bangkok, Hua Hin and Chiang Mai. Visit golden temples, ride an elephant and marvel at the beauty of Bangkok on this unforgettable trip.

Chamber International trips are open to all; you do not need to be a member to travel with us. For more information on our international trips coming up this year, visit slchamber.com.

For the full reports from this week and weeks past, visit KSL NewsRadio online. Remember to tune in between 12:30 and 1 p.m. to KSL NewsRadio every week day on 102.7 FM or 1160 AM. If your business is doing something great, let us know and we may just feature it on the Utah Business Report.

The 2014 Public Policy Guide and business priorities released

Wednesday, January 8th, 2014

The Salt Lake Chamber released the business community’s priorities for the upcoming General Legislative Session within the 2014 Public Policy Guide. The Public Policy Guide was presented to the speaker of the House of Representatives Rebecca Lockhart and Senate President Wayne Niederhauser Wednesday morning. The guide outlines the Chamber’s position on policy issues including economic development, education, transportation, water, energy and minerals, clean air, outdoor recreation and tourism, Downtown Rising, immigration, international competitiveness, and small business.

“The 2014 Public Policy Guide is a Chamber publication, but it represents the broad-based support of chambers of commerce across the state as well as other important business associations,” said Lane Beattie, president and CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber. “These are the priorities of Utah’s diverse business sectors from across the state and it’s critical that we speak with one voice.”

View and download the 2014 Public Policy Guide PDF here.

Economic Development 
Economic development and job creation is the cornerstone priority for Utah’s business community. The 2014 Public Policy Guide highlights and supports the “Your Utah, Your Future” quality growth strategy, initiated by Gov. Gary Herbert and Envision Utah, in taking the long-term view on public policy issues. The guide also outlines priorities that will facilitate economic growth and strengthen the economy, including a continued stance against general tax increases not supported by the public, a commitment to eliminating harmful regulation and a collaborative challenge to enhance Utah’s competitiveness through attracting regional corporate headquarters to the state.

“Utah’s economy is extremely well-positioned for continued growth in 2014. The private-sector is set to accomplish the significant goal of creating 150,000 jobs since the recession–more than a year ahead of schedule,” said Natalie Gochnour, chief economist of the Salt Lake Chamber and associate dean of the University of Utah David Eccles School of Business. “However, Utah’s economy faces economic headwinds from our nation’s capital and risks economic hardship if we do not address our education system and transportation infrastructure.”

Prosperity 2020
An educated workforce has a direct correlation with economic prosperity and is a top priority for Utah’s business community. To be globally competitive, Utah must return to a top-10 state in overall education rankings. To meet this challenge, the Chamber outlines key priorities to improve: 4th grade reading scores; 8th grade math scores; high school completion and college and career readiness; innovative teaching in public education; and Utah’s ability to reach 66 percent of Utahns with postsecondary degrees or certificates.

“Investing in our children is the best investment we can make as a community,” said Alan Hall, Chair ofProsperity 2020, founder and co-managing director of Mercato Partners, and chairman of Marketstar. “Facing unprecedented growth, we need to ensure that the largest population of young people in the country will be deployed as the best educated workforce, propelling Utah to enduring prosperity.”

Prosperity 2020 and the business community, through school-business partnerships, can improve school environments and boost outcomes for students. In addition to advocacy, the Utah business community has developed partnerships that support our education system and improve outcomes. The guide highlights how businesses across the state are becoming directly involved in the educational success of Utah’s children through a myriad of partnerships, including tutoring students, volunteering in classrooms, sponsoring activities, advising programs of study, providing internships and funding scholarships.

“Utah’s business leaders understand the urgency of addressing our education challenges,” said Beattie. “As a strong backer of the Prosperity 2020 movement, we are very supportive of the priorities and commitment of the Legislature’s Education Taskforce and will work to make these policies a reality.”

Transportation
Recent completions of major transportation initiatives have made Utah a national example in our commitment to disciplined planning and investment in transportation infrastructure. As one of the fastest growing states in the nation, continued investments are critical to economic growth and accommodating future generations of Utahns.

“Our community continues to rapidly grow,” said H. David Burton, co-chair of the Utah Transportation Coalition.  “We must act now to ensure future generations can enjoy economic prosperity and a high quality of life.”

The guide outlines support for a five-year action plan to fully fund Utah’s prioritized transportation needs identified in Utah’s 2040 Unified Transportation Plan. This action plan includes allowing local governments to address their urgent transportation challenges, investments to improve our transit system, and a call for the expansion and inflation-adjustment of user fees to meet critical needs.

“Investments in transportation infrastructure benefit every aspect of our economy,” said David Golden, co-chair of the Utah Transportation Coalition, and executive vice president and manager of Wells Fargo Commercial Banking Group’s Mountain Division. “The need for investment is critical and requires immediate action in order to sustain and enhance our world-class business and economic climate.”

Natural Resource Business Council
Utah’s spectacular natural environment is a legacy passed to us from preceding generations and is a key component of the state’s economy and high quality of life. The guide is the debut of the Chamber’s Natural Resource Business Council, which represents a comprehensive approach to the state’s natural environment and important sectors of Utah’s economy. The Chamber’s clean air and energy and minerals task forces, as well as two new Chamber initiatives in Water and Outdoor Recreation and Tourism, are organized under the Council.

“Utah’s natural resources provide Utah families with unparalleled life quality and economic opportunities,” said Senate President Wayne Niederhauser. “We owe future generations our best stewardship efforts to ensure they enjoy the same advantages we now enjoy.”

The Natural Resource Business Council priorities include developing a long-term vision on Utah’s water needs, enhancing rural economic development, improving transportation options to Utah’s energy rich Uinta Basin, supporting Utah’s tourism marketing and addressing air quality issues.

Specifically, the guide highlights the Chamber’s support for: the PM2.5 State Implementation Plan, increased transportation funding to improve our transit system and reduce idling on Utah’s roadways, cleaner vehicles, increased efforts for public awareness and research, and incentives to facilitate small businesses’ participation in emission reductions.

“Air quality for many Utahns’ is the state’s most pressing issue,” said Beattie. “Clean air makes good business sense and the Utah business community is committed to being a champion for improving our air quality.”

The 2014 Public Policy guide is available online at www.slchamber.com/PPG2014.

Here are some photos from the event where we presented speaker of the House of Representatives Rebecca Lockhart and Senate President Wayne Niederhauser:

Annual Report: another strong year for the Chamber

Thursday, September 26th, 2013

This month, the Salt Lake Chamber released its Annual Report, highlighting Chamber accomplishments, public policy and strategic partners’ success between July 1, 2012, and June 30, 2013. There’s even a new, fun infographic breaking down the Chamber “by the numbers.”

You can take a look at the report below. Print copies are also available at the Chamber offices.

Members of Congress comment on America’s need for infrastructure overhaul

Friday, September 6th, 2013

The federal government has more things to pay for than it has money to pay for it. That’s how you end up with trillion dollar deficits and national debt of around $17 trillion. But those expenditures can be prioritized and investing in the key elements of a strong economy help generate the economic activity that can ultimately reduce the deficit and debt.

Businesses understand a strong economy requires a top-notch transportation infrastructure. Keeping goods and people moving is critical to our economic vitality as a nation. Utah may be the best example of the return on investment available for funding transportation projects. Over the past decade, Utah has widened I-15 in Davis and  Utah Counties, opened the Legacy Highway and added 70 miles of new commuter and light rail.

The result: one of the strongest economies in the nation is right here at the Crossroads of the West.

In this video, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce speaks with Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-OH) and Sen. John Boozman (R-AK) about the need to rebuild America’s crumbling infrastructure so that the U.S. can remain competitive in today’s global economy.

Wall Street sees big gains, unemployment remains stubbornly high

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

Editor’s Note: This article, authored by Marty Carpenteroriginally appeared on KSL.com

Wall Street has been on a hot streak for the past few weeks, but those positive numbers are still in stark contrast to the stubbornly high national unemployment rate and sluggish economic growth.

The Dow Jones Industrial was up over 14,500 as trading began Monday, part of a steady increase dating back to Feb. 25 when trading opened at just over 13,784. The 10-day run was the longest winning streak for the U.S. stock market in 17 years.

Compare that number the 7.9 percent national unemployment rate and an anemic growth rate of just 1.6 percent. To give some level of comparison, Utah’s 3.2 percent economic growth is nearly twice the national rate with an unemployment rate now down to 5.4 percent.

So why isn’t a boom on Wall Street translating into better times on Main Street?

Darin Mellott, a senior analyst at CBRE and a member of the Utah Economic Council, joined KSL Today Monday morning and he says there are a variety of elements that can influence the stock market.

“Generally speaking, businesses are doing well,” says Mellott. “They’ve done a good job of keeping their costs low so any improvement in the economy can make a real difference when it comes to profitability.”

Because the businesses that make up the Dow Jones Industrial average do business outside the U.S., they are growing even when the U.S. economy isn’t keeping pace.

“When it comes to the Dow, we have to remember these are multinational corporations,” says Mellott. “They’re doing business in places where the economy is doing much better than it is here in the United States, although things are improving here. That’s a key ingredient to get into a better pace of job creation.”

Public policy plays an important role in overall economic performance. The high level of uncertainty coming from budget battles in the nation’s capital affects the way businesses invest their earnings. The Wall Street economy is booming, the Main Street economy is primed for growth but Washington is not doing its part.

Congress and the administration make the rules businesses have to operate by and when businesses are unable to reasonably predict the rules (tax policy, regulation, etc.) they hold onto the money rather than investing in new ideas, buying equipment, expanding and hiring.

“Policy is going to have a big say in economic outcomes and performance,” says Mellott. “There’s no doubt we’re waiting to see the impact of the sequester, the higher taxes that were implemented earlier this year, there are certainly some open questions and some risk to where the Dow is at right now.”

Practical steps to cleaner air

Tuesday, March 12th, 2013

Editor’s note: this post was originally published as an op-ed in the Deseret News, Sunday, March 10, 2013. You can find the original post here.  It is co-authored by Jonathan Johnson, acting CEO at Overstock.com and chair of the Salt Lake Chamber Clean Air Task Force, and Jeff Edwards, president and CEO of the Economic Development Corporation of Utah.

Already in 2013, Utah has logged more than two-dozen red air days. With extended inversions trapping pollutants in our valley, Utahns have declared it is time to do something.

In addition to the adverse impact on public health, poor air quality endangers Utah’s federal highway funding, increases the risk of greater regulatory burdens and impairs economic development and corporate recruitment efforts.

Overall emissions in Salt Lake City are not that different from other Western cities our size, but because of our unique geography and meteorology, pollutants can’t escape into the atmosphere as they do elsewhere.  We all play a part in polluting the air to some extent and enhancing our air quality will require a collective effort—including some smart public policy.

We must encourage the behaviors that will protect the unsurpassed natural beauty of our state. We should drive less. We should drive cleaner. And businesses should continue to make clean air a priority. Clean air makes good business sense and the business community is determined to be a significant part of the solution.

Overstock.com incentivizes employees to participate in a carpool program, providing as much as $80 per month and preferred parking spaces to carpoolers. It also encourages carpools by listing carpoolers on the company intranet by geographical location so employees can find groups close to where they live. Overstock.com is just one of many great examples of businesses making Utah’s air quality a top priority.

Public policy should also continue to play an important role in preserving and enhancing our air quality. Over the past two decades Utah has increased capacity on our interstate highways, greatly reducing congestion and keeping cars from idling on our freeways. Later this year, UTA will complete a multi-year effort to add 70 miles of rail over a seven-year period. These investments in our mobility infrastructure play a significant role in our clean air efforts.

There is still more we can do. We support Senate Bill 275, sponsored by Senate Majority Whip Stuart Adams. This bill facilitates fleet conversions to cleaner-burning compressed natural gas (CNG) throughout the state, improves and increases CNG refueling infrastructure and provides critical maintenance facilities.

Today there are 2,757 school buses throughout the state: 2,659 run on diesel and 37 run on gasoline.  Only 69 run on CNG. Considering each diesel school bus is the equivalent of 36 cars on the road, a determined effort to convert every bus—school buses and public transit buses—as well as heavy vehicles in the state fleet to CNG is a practical and pragmatic step that will greatly benefit our air quality.

Simple math makes this even more attractive. Today diesel fuel is $3.89 per gallon while CNG is $1.49 per gallon equivalent. Bus fleets that run on CNG will not only pollute less, they’ll cost less. Making CNG more readily available to the public also makes it sensible and financially rewarding for more of us to drive CNG-fueled vehicles.

Increasing the availability of CNG fueling stations is a win-win-win for Utah. Our state has an abundant supply of natural gas. Using more of it to fuel our vehicles and commerce reduces our dependence on foreign oil, improves our air quality and makes our state an even more attractive location for businesses and top talent looking for a place to do business.

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Jonathan Johnson is the chair of the Salt Lake Chamber Clean Air Task Force and acting CEO of Overstock.com.

 

 


Jeff Edwards is the CEO of the Economic Development Corporation of Utah.

Chamber adds tools to help business speak out on issues

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

With just 12 days remaining in the legislative session there is still a lot of work to do. We want to make sure you are familiar with some of the great new tools we have developed to help you monitor the bills that impact your business and the Utah economy.

The Salt Lake Chamber now offers a one-stop, all-inclusive website where you can track legislation as it progresses, learn more about the business community’s positions and take action by sharing your support or concerns with your elected officials. You can find it all at www.slchamber.com/vote.

This website provides a quick and easy way for you to take action and let your legislator know how these bills will impact your business and our economy. At slchamber.com/vote you will find a list of the Chamber’s top priority bills (those we oppose and support), as well as a complete bill watch list. To learn more about each bill, one click can take you to the full bill text and its current status.

For a tour of the website, watch the brief video above.

We hope you take some time to check out these tools and help us as we fulfill our mission to stand as the voice of business, support our members’ success and champion community prosperity.

 

Chamber speaks out on approach to improving air quality

Thursday, February 14th, 2013

During a winter riddled with severe inversions marked by a high number of red air days, air quality has been an issue in the spotlight. Today, Ryan Evans, the Chamber’s vice president of business and community relations, spoke during a news conference with Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker. He expressed the business community’s position on clean air.

Clean air is important to the Utah Business Community and to our state economy.  Poor air quality impacts the health of our employees, hinders corporate recruitment efforts, and places federal highway funding at risk.  Having poor air also impacts Utah’s tourism industry, one of our largest, and potentially subjects Utah businesses to increased regulatory burdens.  It is important we protect our reputation as being the best state in the nation for business.

The Salt Lake Chamber applauds the mayors here today and others who have implemented measures to improve air quality within their communities.  We also applaud the efforts of Governor Herbert, who has worked very hard to engage in this conversation and initiate steps to improve our air quality.  We applaud the Legislature, as well, for their willingness to look at air quality as an economic development issue.  And, I would also like to applaud the many business leaders throughout our community who have addressed this issue head-on. Their active role in improving our air quality has resulted in significant reductions in emissions. Businesses are committed to doing even more to improve the quality of the air we breathe.

Clean air is a shared public resource. All across our state, we must work together to improve our air quality. Individual communities and the state as a whole play an important role and we need to work together to address this issue. We all share the responsibility to change our own behavior to improve air quality.  We are making progress. Overall, our air is cleaner now than it has been in decades, but the spikes during inversions must be addressed.

Improving our air quality will require a combination of many efforts- both easy and difficult.  Unfortunately, there is no single answer to this issue.  Today’s announcement includes a list of potential remedies.  While we do not have consensus from business leaders about the right remedies and policy steps, we want to be part of the conversation, and we will continue to support and provide leadership on this important issue.

UPDATE:

Please see our public policy pages for clean air, where the Chamber’s principles and policies are outlined. Here is a list of the suggestions from a variety of stakeholders brought up by the mayors at the press conference:

1. Provide additional transit funding by implementing an increase in the local-option sales tax; or by increasing the gas tax to provide more road funds and requiring a proportion of the general fund money available to go to transit; or amending the state constitution so additional gas tax revenues can go directly to transit.

2. Repeal state law prohibiting Utah from setting air quality standards that are higher than federal regulations. We have unique local geographic conditions that require locally tailored approaches.

3. Extend tax credits for clean fuel and electric vehicles, and support funding for natural gas infrastructure (like fueling locations).

4. Change state vehicle registration fee schedule to a mileage-based system.

5. Devote additional financial resources to conduct widespread educational campaigns on causes of our poor air quality, the health effects and solutions to improve it.

Here is a link to the Salt Lake Tribune for broader coverage of the event: http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/politics/55833397-90/lake-salt-mayors-pollution.html.csp

Immigration reform is right for the U.S. economy

Monday, February 4th, 2013

Editor’s note: This post was originally published as an op-ed in the Salt Lake Tribune, Sunday, February 3, 2013

Federal immigration reform dominated the headlines this past week as some of Washington’s biggest names stepped forward with encouraging proposals. There is increasing understanding that we can, and growing consensus that we must, modernize our immigration system to continue to attract the best and brightest to our shores and ensure we have enough workers to sustain our economy and remain competitive.

The Utah Compact, signed in Nov. 2010, established our state as an immigration leader. Our recognition that immigration reforms should consider the impacts on law enforcement, the economy and families must continue to guide the discussion. The first principle of the Compact states that immigration is a federal issue. Utah business leaders are encouraged to see leadership coming from Congress and the White House.

Last week, Sen. Orrin Hatch joined with Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., Chris Coons, D-Del., and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., to propose a significant increase in the number of visas for high skilled workers. The bill would boost our economy by granting legal status to foreign-born students who earn advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) fields. This common sense reform will improve our economy by attracting and retaining the best talent, and secure a return on the investment we have already made in educating foreign students.

On Monday, a bipartisan group of eight senators introduced a comprehensive reform effort. Their proposal called for a workable roadmap to lawful status for people of good will who are already here and a reform of our legal immigration system to strengthen the American economy and American families. The Group of Eight wants to create an effective employment verification system that will prevent identity theft and end the hiring of future unauthorized workers as we improve the process for admitting future workers to serve our nation’s workforce needs. These admirable goals should serve as the framework for more detailed legislation.

Sen. Mike Lee, who was originally part of this group of leaders, issued a statement saying he “remains greatly supportive of what the group aims to accomplish” and he “will continue to work with (his) colleagues to solve many of the challenges this important issue presents.” We believe Sen. Lee can continue to be a productive voice in the immigration discussion and we encourage him and the other members of our federal delegation to unite in the common purpose and work as a team to reform America’s broken immigration system.

An optimized immigration system would greatly strengthen the U.S. economy. More than 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or their children. High skilled immigrants strengthen our research work, develop new products and launch new industries. Immigrants are also essential in hourly jobs that support industries including tourism, hospitality and agriculture.

No one benefits from our outdated and broken immigration system. Bringing undocumented immigrants out of the shadows will enhance our recovering economy and position us for continued growth. Fixing our broken immigration system will attract and retain the most educated and hardest working talent from around the world for decades to come.

Wheelwright was also a guest on KSL’s Sunday Edition this past weekend where he discussed the issue with Richard Piatt. Click here to watch.

 


 

Lane Beattie is the president and CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber, Utah’s largest business association representing over half the state’s workforce. 

 

 

 

 

Tim Wheelwright is the chair of the Salt Lake Chamber Immigration Task Force and a partner at Kuck Immigration Partners.