Public Policy – August Update

Thursday, August 14th, 2014

As the “Voice of Business” and Utah’s statewide chamber, the Salt Lake Chamber leads out on critical issues that impact Utah businesses and our community. In the coming weeks, here is how we plan to “move the dial” to grow our economy, promote community prosperity and champion business in Utah, as well as ways for you to participate for the month of August and beyond.

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Public Policy

We are excited to announce that Michael Merrill has been promoted to Director of Public Policy for the Salt Lake Chamber. Michael will continue to focus and enhance the Chamber’s major initiatives, including economic development, infrastructure, the environment, Utah’s workforce and ensuring Utah’s premier business climate.

Additionally, Jesse Dean has been promoted to Director of Urban Development for the Downtown Alliance, focusing on economic development and urban policies in Salt Lake City’s downtown.

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Prosperity 2020

Prosperity 2020 is actively engaged in ensuring that our state has a world-class workforce and supporting education in our state. This includes recently speaking out in favor of extending the No Child Left Behind waiver.

In addition to these efforts, Prosperity 2020is looking to share how businesses are engaged in supporting education. Please take five minutes to complete this short survey to provide insight for the policymakers and others who ask what industry is saying about education’s impact on their companies.

If you have any questions or comments, please reach out to Allyson Bell at 801-328-5076 or

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Natural Resources Business Council: August meeting focused on public lands initiative

Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2014 | 7:30 – 9:00 AM

The Natural Resource Business Council represents an inclusive approach to multiple sectors of Utah’s economy. The Council is the guiding body for the water,  energy and minerals, clean air, and outdoor recreation and tourism task forces.

This month’s meeting will focus on updates from the Chamber’s efforts in these areas, as well as an update from Rep. Rob Bishop on the Public Lands Initiative.

If you have any questions or comments, please reach out to Michael Merrill at 801.558.5068 or

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Regulation: Chamber partnering on Utah Solutions Summit regarding regulation

Thursday, Aug.21, 2014 | 8:00 AM – 2:00 PM

We are partnering with Sen. Mike Lee, Gov. Gary Herbert, the Utah League of Cities and Towns, and the Utah Association of Counties for the Utah Solutions Summit on Thursday, August 21, 2014 to discuss the vast and uncertain regulatory burden under which businesses are required to comply and develop solutions to move our economy forward.

The agenda includes discussions with business leaders and government offi­cials about regulation compliance as well as the relationship between regulation and economic development. Included featured keynote speakers: U.S. Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Utah Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox.

If you have any other questions or comments, please reach out to Justin Jones at 801.558.9371 or

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Clean Air: 6th Annual Clear the Air Challenge another success

We all have a role in keeping our air clean and the 2014 Clear the Air Challenge was another great success exhibiting Utahns and Utah businesses’ willingness to drive smarter and drive less. More than 6,800 participants eliminated over 140,000 single-occupancy vehicles trips, averting more than 2 million miles traveled.

The winners of this year’s challenge will be announced on August 16 at 9:00 a.m. at the Downtown Farmers Market at Pioneer Park on the main stage. If you have any questions or comments, please reach out to Ryan Evans at 801.328.5063.

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Water: Chamber announces new effort to address Utah’s water challenges

As part of the “Utah | Water Is Your Business” week, the Salt Lake Chamber announced a co-chair for the newly launched water committee: Rob Moore, president of Big-D Construction. The Chamber water committee will focus on best practices for business in water conservation and management, and will also look at current and future infrastructure needs. To learn more, please visit “Utah | Water Is Your Business.” You can also follow the discussion on Twitter with the hashtag #UTbiz4H2O.

We will have updates in the very near future on the committee including meeting dates and ways to participate. If you have any questions or comments, please reach out to Michael Merrill at 801.558.5068 or

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Utah Transportation Coalition: Mountain transportation and Aerotroplis

Save the Date – Aerotroplis Guest Speaker – Thursday, Oct. 16, 2014

This past month Utah Transportation Coalition and Mountain Accord hosted business and community leaders to discuss the future of transportation in Utah’s Central Wasatch. Mountain transportation is one of the key transportation objectives for Utah’s business community because of its possible impact on our economy, quality of life, and opportunities to strengthen and enhance our natural environment.

The Salt Lake Chamber and Utah Transportation Coalition support these efforts to explore transportation options in the Wasatch Mountains that increase accessibility, are a net-positive for the environment, encourage transit, enhance Utah’s global brand, and pass a rigorous environmental and local process. For more information about the Mountain Accord Process, please visit

Addtionally, the Utah Transportation Coalition and Parsons Brinkerhoff will be hosting an Aerotroplis forum on October 16 to discuss the importance of the connection between Salt Lake City International Airport and Utah’s economy. The airport just recently broke ground on a 10-year terminal rebuild and released a report detailing the economic impact of the airport.

For more details, visit or contact Michael Merrill at 801.558.5068 or

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Energy: 2014 Uintah Basin Energy Summit

Thursday, Sept. 4, 2014 – Vernal

Utah’s rich and diverse energy sector is one key reason behind our state’s thriving economy. This September key stakeholders will gather in one of Utah’s richest energy regions. The Uintah Basin Energy Summit is a complement to the Governor’s Energy Summit that focuses directly on economic growth and energy development in the Uintah Basin. The summit will be in held in Vernal, Utah, on September 4, 2014.

This region is extremely important to Utah’s broader business community. Most recently, the Utah State Chamber, the coordinating entity for chambers of commerce throughout Utah, held its annual summer meeting in the Uintah Basin. If you have any questions or comments, please reach out to Michael Merrill at 801.558-5068 or

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Outdoor Recreation and Tourism: 2014 Summer Outdoor Retailer and Economic Club of Utah

Outdoor recreation and tourism represent robust business sectors that benefit both urban and rural Utah. We view efforts to enhance these industries as vital to economic development. This past month we held an industry focus group and will continue to engage Utah’s outdoor products and services companies.

As part of that effort, the Salt Lake Chamber visited the 2014 Summer Outdoor Retailer show and connected with key industry leaders. Additionally, the Chamber is supporting the Economic Club of Utah’s Summer Meeting, which is focusing on Utah’s outdoor economy.

We are also excited about our continued partnership with the Utah Office of Outdoor Recreation and Office of Tourism, Global Branding and Film as we look to grow these industries.

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Downtown Alliance: Downtown still rising

In July 2014, the Downtown Alliance released the “2014 State of Downtown Economic Benchmark Report” from 2013 through first quarter 2014. This report tells a story of a constantly evolving and improving regional center for culture, commerce and entertainment. Economic activity and tax revenues continue to recover from the Great Recession of 2007-2009, with retail sales reaching over $800 million in eating, drinking, clothing department and other downtown retail categories. Over the last year, dozens of new office buildings, residential developments, hotels, theaters and public structures either broke ground or opened within 1.08 square mile Central Business District. For more information and a full copy of this report, please click here.

Looking forward to 2014-2015, there are several opportunities for improvement within the Central Business District. The Downtown Alliance will focus on policies and programs that impact the following areas:

- Redevelopment in downtown’s burgeoning entrepreneurial and transit-oriented neighborhood, the Depot District.
- Nightlife economy and creating a dynamic and diverse downtown that is welcoming to locals and visitors alike.
- Continued residential development to create a 24/7 urban center welcome to all ages, backgrounds and income levels.
- Development-friendly codes and zoning in order to remain a regional competitor for urban infill.

If you are interested in learning more about the Downtown Alliance’s initiatives or have any questions, please contact Director of Urban Development Jesse Dean at

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Health System Reform: Governor’s Healthy Utah Plan

Health System Reform Task Force meeting – Thursday, Aug.28, 2014

We are actively engaged in a number of issues in regards to health care and the business community. This includes the discussions around the Governor’s Healthy Utah Plan, the continued implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“PPACA”) and its impact on businesses, as well as directly engaging Utah’s employers as the largest payer in health care spending.

The Health System Reform Task Force will be meeting on August 28. If you have any other questions or comments, please reach out to Justin Jones at 801.558.9371 or

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International: Utah Global Forum

Utah Global Forum – Wednesday, Sept. 24, 2014

On September 24, 2014, Utah will host the first of its kind Global Forum. Topics will include Building a Global Brand; Doing Business in Europe, Mexico, Canada and China; Shared Stories of Success from Utah Companies Abroad; Financing Your Global Expansion; and Global Operational Efficiency Through Sound Legal, Tax and Accounting Practices. The agenda for the event has been released and features a number of world-renowned business and trade experts.

If you’re thinking about exporting, looking to invest in one of the fastest growing economies in the United States or seeking inspiration to take your business to the next level, you won’t want to miss out on this forum.

For questions regarding the Utah Global Forum, please visit


Public Policy – July Update

Tuesday, July 1st, 2014

As the “Voice of Business” and Utah’s statewide Chamber, the Salt Lake Chamber leads out on critical issues that impact Utah businesses and our community. In the coming weeks, here is how we plan to “move the dial” to grow our economy, promote community prosperity and champion business in Utah, as well as ways for you to participate.

Public Policy

The Salt Lake Chamber has named Rich Walje, President and CEO of Rocky Mountain Power as Public Policy Chair starting July 1, 2014. The Policy Chair is an Executive Board member which guides the Chamber’s various public policy initiatives and acts as a liaison with the Executive Board on policy.

“The Salt Lake Chamber fills an essential role in our community as the voice of business on public policy issues. Apart from narrowly-focused industry associations, the Chamber gives a voice to broad-based business issues in the community and on the Hill,” said Walje.

Additionally, Chris Gamvroulas, President Ivory Development and Ivory Homes, was also named Vice Chair, Public Policy. Walje has set an aggressive agenda for the coming year for improving the chamber’s efforts in public policy and strengthening influence on key policy issues.

The Executive Board is the only policy body of the Salt Lake Chamber responsible for the Chamber’s commercial, industrial, public, legislative and financial policies. The Executive Board consists of members of the Board of Governors and the Downtown Alliance Board of Trustees. All of the Chamber’s extensive policy task forces and committees are advisory to the Executive Board through the Public Policy Chair.

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Clean Air

We all have a role in keeping our air clean. Businesses, citizens and government share our roads and breathe the same air. We should all do our part clean our air and the Clear the Air Challenge is perfect opportunity to show that you care about air quality! This statewide Challenge begins on Tuesday, July 1, 2014.

1. Remember, it’s all about driving smarter and driving less. Find out how your company and employees can participate at

If you have any other questions, concerns or comments about the Clear the Air Challenge, feel free to reach out to Ben Hoyle at 801.328.5056 or

Also – our next Clean Air Task Force meeting will be Wednesday, August 13, at 7:30-9:00 a.m. with the Chamber’s Natural Resources Business Council. For more information about the task force, please contact Ryan Evans at 801.328.5063 or

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Capitol Club

“The Salt Lake Chamber Capitol Club gives business professionals unrivaled access to Utah’s leaders,” said Dan Harbeke, director public affairs of Union Pacific Railroad. “If you are interested in an inside look to how policy in Utah works, I’d encourage you to join.”

The Capitol Club provides the opportunity to gain professional development in public policy, public affairs and  especially for those interested in the policy issues affecting Utah’s business community. The next Capitol Club event will be Monday, July 16, with the newly appointed executive director of the Utah Technology and Research Initiative (USTAR), Ivy Estabrooke.

If you are interested in participating in Capitol Club contact Michael Merrill at 801-328.5068 or

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We advocate for simplified and reasonable regulation as well as predictable and certain laws, so rational people can be confident in deploying resources into a productive economy. To that end we are partnering with Sen. Lee, Gov. Gary Herbert, the Utah League of Cities and Towns, and the Utah Association of Counties for the Utah Solutions Summit on Thursday, August 21, 2014 to discuss the vast and uncertain regulatory burden under which businesses are required to comply and develop solutions to move our economy forward.

We will have more information about the Solutions Summit, including sponsorship opportunities, in the coming days. If you have any other questions, concerns or comments, feel free to reach out to Justin Jones at 801.558-9371 or

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We invite you to join business and community leaders to discuss the importance of water infrastructure and the impact of water availability on our economy, business environment and economic development efforts, as well as how Utah businesses are making a difference with “Utah: Water is Your Business Week,” which will take place the week of August 4 – 8, 2014. This will include a number of items including the launch of Chamber’s Water Task Force.

We are looking for great stories about how your business is practicing water management and conservation. We invite you to join in sponsoring this great event. For more information and to share your company’s water stories, please contact Michael Merrill at 801-328.5068 or

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Prosperity 2020

The Salt Lake Chamber has partnered with chambers of commerce and business associations from all over Utah in a movement called Prosperity 2020 to strengthen our economy by improving education. Prosperity 2020 is currently working towards an Education Forum later this fall as well as working closely with the Legislature’s Education Task Force. The next Prosperity 2020 Founders Council meeting is Monday, August 25 at 1:00-2:30 p.m.

To become involved in Prosperity 2020, please contact Jana Scott at 801-328-5043 or

Additionally, the Prosperity 2020 Business Promise seeks to deploy 20,200 volunteers into Utah’s school system. If your business is interested in taking a more active role to support education, please contact Julie Johnsson at 801.328.5082 or

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Utah Transportation Coalition

On June 23, the Utah Transportation Coalition held the 2014 Open House with terrific presentations from UDOT Executive Director Carlos Braceras, Utah Transit Authority General Manager Michael Allegra, and House Transportation Committee Chair and Interim Transportation Committee Co-Chair Rep. Johnny Anderson. The event is just one of dozens the Utah Transportation Coalition hosts every year to promote continued investment in Utah’s transportation infrastructure. These events are reserved or significantly discounted for Coalition members and include an upcoming Mountain Transportation event that we will have more details on in the coming weeks.

The Coalition is currently looking for new members to collaborate with our partners to make smart and sustainable transportation choices and to secure adequate, stable and long-term funding to support a high quality of life and economic growth in Utah.

If your company is interested in participating, contact Michael Merrill at 801-328.5068 or

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Natural Resources Business Council

Our Natural Resources Business Council (Council) is an inclusive approach to multiple sectors of Utah’s economy including the Chamber’s Water, Clean Air, Energy and Minerals, and Outdoor Recreation and Tourism Task Forces. This past month the Council heard presentations on the nexus between transportation and the NRBC, as well as the possibility of developing a Chamber corporate sustainability report.

The next Council meeting will be on Wednesday, August 13 at 7:30-9:00 a.m. For more information, please contact Michael Merrill at 801-328.5068 or

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Outdoor Recreation and Tourism

The Salt Lake Chamber held its first Outdoor Recreation and Tourism meeting on June 5 with an industry focus group to better understand the needs of this critical asset to Utah’s economy. The groups discussed challenges with regulation, coordination with our economic development partners and perceptual issues faced by Utah’s tourism industry. We want to thank all of our participants.

The Chamber will be working closely with the Utah Office of Outdoor Recreation, Office of Tourism Global Branding on a number of events in the coming months and establish an ongoing task force. If you would like to participate in future events, please contact Michael Merrill at 801-328.5068 or

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Energy and Minerals

Utah’s rich and diverse energy sector is one key reason behind our state’s thriving economy and the third annual Utah Governor’s Energy Development Summit on June 3-4, 2014, honored that contribution by setting the stage for the sector to continue to power our state’s economy. The Salt Lake Chamber welcomed the opportunity to support the summit. Read more about the summit.

To build on the summit, the Energy and Minerals Task Force meeting on Wednesday, July 9 at 8:00 a.m. will receive a briefing on the Utah Energy Efficiency and Conservation Plan from the Office of Energy Development and a presentation on clean energy technology start-ups. For more information, please contact Michael Merrill at 801-328.5068 or

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Health System Reform

The Salt Lake Chamber in collaboration the Utah Hospital Association, American Cancer Association, AARP of Utah, Voices for Utah Children and Utah Health Policy Project sponsored a phone and email survey to better understand the public’s sentiment of the Governor’s “Healthy Utah Plan.”

A poll of 623 registered voters in May and June by Dan Jones & Associates found:

• 88 percent favor Herbert’s “Healthy Utah” plan over doing nothing.
• 70 percent prefer Herbert’s plan to a straightforward Medicaid expansion as envisioned by the Affordable Care Act.
• 59 percent say they support or strongly support Herbert’s plan.

The Health System Reform Task Force received a briefing on this polling data at our June 26 meeting and you can read about the results here.

The next Health System Reform task force will be Thursday, August 28, at 8:00 a.m. If you would like to participate in future Health System Reform events, please contact Justin Jones at 801.328.5071 or


Downtown Alliance

Join the Downtown Alliance on Friday, July 11, for the 2014 State of Downtown, which celebrates our evolving urban center. Downtown is in the midst of a remarkable transformation with new residents, businesses and buildings shaping our urban fabric. This event will highlight these dramatic changes and forecast our future.

Also at the 2014 State of Downtown, the Downtown Alliance will be releasing the 2013 Economic Benchmark Report for downtown Salt Lake City, which presents facts about the downtown economy to stakeholders, property owners, tenants, investors, developers, retailers, brokers, theaters, museums, policy makers and civic leaders. You can read the 2012 report here.

If you would like to participate in future Downtown Alliance events, please contact Jesse Dean at 801-328.5045 or

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International – World Trade Center

Derek Miller, former chief of staff to Utah Gov. Gary R. Herbert, has been named president and CEO of the World Trade Center Utah, a licensed and certified member of the World Trade Centers Association, which is headquartered in New York City.

The World Trade Center Utah is strategic partner of the Salt Lake Chamber and you can read more about Derek’s appointment here.

On September 24, 2014, Utah will host the first of its kind Global Forum. Topics will include Building a Global Brand; Doing Business in Europe, Mexico, Canada, and China; Shared Stories of Success from Utah companies abroad; Financing Your Global Expansion; and Global Operational Efficiency Through Sound Legal, Tax and Accounting Practices.

If you’re thinking about exporting, looking to invest in one of the fastest growing economies in the United States or seeking inspiration to take your business to the next level, you won’t want to miss out. Visit

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,

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

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

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.”

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

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

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 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. 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. 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



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

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 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.