Resources available for women who want to be entrepreneurs

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

ABC 4 News invited the Chamber’s Women’s Business Center Director Ann Marie Thompson to do a feature on the resources that woman seeking to be entrepreneurs have available to them in Utah.

ABC 4 invited the WBC to join them because of their feature in the “Women-Owned: Businesses Carving A New American Business Landscape” report by the U.S. Chamber, which was released at the end of March.

Watch the interview above or click here to watch it on ABC 4 News.

UCAIR launches the Clean Air Assist Program

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

Clean air is a problem that everyone can address. Now there’s a little more help for small businesses to make a difference in Utah’s air quality.

The Department of Workforce Services (DWS), the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and the Utah Clean Air Partnership (UCAIR) have partnered to provide grants to small businesses to upgrade their current equipment to emission reducing equipment and improve air quality.

Small businesses can be awarded grants between $500 and $15,000. This grant program is available for businesses with less than 100 employees that are located in Box Elder, Cache, Davis, Duchesne, Salt Lake, Tooele, Uintah, Utah and Weber Counties.

Application Process:

Go to the UCAIR website for information about UCAIR and the Air Assist Program application information. For questions about the program and individual help with the application process, please contact Gwen Springmeyer at 801.536.4218 or

There is no application deadline and no fees will be charged for the application.

SBA: The Best Kept Secret of the Government

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014

Left to right – Ann Marie Thompson, Program Director for the WBC – Matt Varilek, Regional Administrator for SBA’s Region VIII – Alan Ormsby, Senior State Director for Utah AARP

To help small businesses start, grow and succeed.

These are the goals of the Small Business Administration (SBA), an independent agency of the federal government, which aids, counsels, assists and protects the interests of small businesses, to preserve free competitive enterprise, and to maintain and strengthen the overall economy of our nation.

“In some cases you’ll have people who hatched a great idea but who maybe don’t have all the business skills they need to turn that idea into an actual business concern and actual jobs. That’s how we can help,” said Matt Varilek, SBA Region VIII Administrator. Utah is part of SBA Region VIII, along with the states of South Dakota, North Dakota, Colorado, Montana and Wyoming.

Varilek noted that Region VIII is doing well with each of the states touting unemployment rates at least one point below the national average. Utah is faring very well on its own with a 4.3 percent unemployment rate–nearly three full points below the nation’s average.

“People are optimistic about the economy in Utah and part of that is because we have a very active community of entrepreneurs that are bringing great ideas to the table,” Varilek said.

The Salt Lake Chamber recognizes how important small businesses are to our state and country, as they contribute to a stronger economy and help create jobs.

Encore Entrepreneurs

In December, the Chamber’s Women’s Business Center, a resource partner for the Utah District Office of SBA, held an Encore Entrepreneur training session meant for those aged 50+ looking to start a business. “This is a great source of economic activity in our economy so we like to facilitate that,” Varilek said.

Stan Nakano, Utah SBA director, said, “These are folks that have had careers and have developed skill sets. In many cases, they have the financial capacity to launch or consider starting a business. We’ve seen some of the 50+ entrepreneurs look at franchises for possibilities.”

“Every segment of the population would bring different strengths to the entrepreneurial pool,” said Varilek, noting that different generations bring different skills and perspectives to a business. But he said one thing is certain across any generation: “Entrepreneurship is not all roses, you need to have a tolerance for risk.”

There are a few things that are important to being an entrepreneur–being open to learning, being as prepared as possible, and not being afraid to go after capital and government contracts to make your business work and grow. And the SBA can help with all of this.

3 C’s and 1 D: Counseling, Capital, Contracting & Disaster

From a vast network of resource partners who sit down and share advice with entrepreneurs and small business owners to various kinds of training sessions, the SBA provides endless opportunities to learn how to run a small business. “People don’t have to go far to sit one-on-one with someone for help,” said Varilek. Some of the SBA’s  resource partners that provide one-on-one counseling include Small Business Development Center, SCORE and Women’s Business Center.

Not only that, but the SBA is highly involved in facilitating small business loans. Nationally, the SBA totaled more than $29 billion in capital loaned to small businesses. The SBA is on a role with a handful of consecutive good years under their belt, and their hope is for the momentum to continue. A current SBA goal, according to Varilek, is to increase the amount of small scale loans (less than $150,000) the federal agency facilitates. A little note for those who might be interested: there are zero fees for small scale loans.

In 2013, the SBA helped facilitate more than $400 million in small business loans within Utah alone. Despite the sequestration and government shutdown, they managed to facilitate nearly $50 million more in small business loans than in 2012 even though 100 less loans were supplied (1,297 loans in 2013). The total economic impact Utah experienced in 2013 from the SBA’s contributions and programs was $718.9 million.

“We’re proud we are having that impact,” Varilek said. “We couldn’t accomplish anything without our lending partners or the entrepreneurs with the great ideas and passion to put them into action.”

Government contracting is another service the SBA provides. has added more online resources designed to help interested small companies better navigate the federal procurement process. In 2013, the total amount contracted in Utah was $51.9 million–quite a drop from 2012, considering the difference in the number of 8(a) contracts between the last two years was less than 100.

“We have had a drop in contracting to small business, and as we all know there are reasons: the sequestration and the government shutdown really played a part in that,” said Stan Nakano, SBA District Director for Utah.

“Sequestration impacts each industry based on the resources it has, so there were fewer contracts to let and less money to contract,” said Varilek. “It still has a significant impact.”

The new Historically Underutilized Business Zones (HUBZone) program also helps small businesses in urban and rural communities gain preferential access to federal procurement opportunities. The HUBZone program contributed $25.7 million to Utah’s economy in 2013.

And the one offering of the SBA that you may not know about is their work in disaster relief and loans. “SBA has a lesser known but a very important disaster programs in terms of low interest loans for business owners, even home owners and renters, who have uninsured damages,” Varilek said.

With all of these offerings to small business owners, the Chamber is proud to recognize the SBA–along with their resource partners Small Business Development CenterSCORE and Women’s Business Center–as veritable resources for those either looking to start a small business or to improve their existing business.

To learn more about the SBA, visit


New location for Zions Bank Business Resource Center

Friday, December 13th, 2013

In 2006, Zions Bank Business Resource Center opened its doors to provide free services to entrepreneurs wishing to start a business. Since then, the center has assisted more than 5,000 individuals with tools to help them create and expand new and existing businesses.

Earlier this month,  Zions Bank relocated its Business Resource Center to 120 South Main Street in downtown Salt Lake City.

According to the Small Business Association data, capital provided through Zions Bank’s SBA loans in 2013 helped Utah businesses grow so that they could hire 858 new employees and retain over 17,000 positions.

“The Business Resource Center demonstrates Zions Bank’s institution-wide commitment to supporting small businesses as they grow, expand and create jobs” said Scott Anderson, Zions Bank’s president and CEO.

By opening this new small business resource center, Zions Bank is assured of knowing who will keep them in business in the years to come.  Small businesses in Utah create jobs (approx. 60 percent of our state’s workforce) and not many organizations provide more to help foster small business job growth and encourage entrepreneurs than Zions Bank.  Zions Bank is also a tremendous small business partner of the Salt Lake Chamber, lending their expertise and resources in so many ways, especially in regard to our Women’s Business Center as they work to develop entrepreneurs–especially women–in our community.

We at the Salt Lake Chamber applaud Zions Bank for this incredible investment in our community and wish them well in their support of small businesses throughout Utah.

The Zions Bank Business Resource Center is open for walk-ins and by appointment on weekdays between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Beyond its brick-and-mortar location, the online Business Resource Center offers a wealth of articles, worksheets and tips for those launching a new business at


This week on the Utah Business Report

Friday, November 29th, 2013

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.

As accessible as Salt Lake City is with TRAX and the new SLC Bike Share program, sometimes you need a car to get from point A to point B. This month, Enterprise Rent-A-Car launched its CarShare program. It is a membership-based car sharing program that provides cars parked on the streets in the Salt Lake City Metro Area and surrounding University campuses.

Enterprise CarShare provides an alternate method of transportation for people who walk, bike, take public transportation, or just need an additional vehicle for work or fun. Enterprise CarShare gives you access to a vehicle by the hour, day, or overnight, 24/7, so you can go where you want, when you want. It’s completely automated, and once you’re a member, all you need is internet access to rent an Enterprise CarShare vehicle.

Membership in the CarShare program includes fuel, a dedicated parking spot, maintenance, and physical damage/liability coverage for members 18 years old and over with a valid driver’s license.

If you join Enterprise CarShare before January 31, 2014, then Enterprise will waive your first-year’s annual membership fee and application fee. Just visit

Adapting to the times and needs of people is crucial for business today. That’s the reason the Salt Lake Inn has upgraded comfort and convenience with its recent renovation.

The new owners have reopened The Salt Lake Inn after a complete multi-million dollar renovation of this landmark hotel located midway between Salt Lake City International Airport and the many attractions of historic downtown Salt Lake City.

The Salt Lake Inn has many new features that families and business travelers alike will enjoy, including upgraded rooms with high-speed internet access and 37-inch flat-screen HD TVs.

The lobby, public areas and the dining room also received a renovation, featuring the most modern technologies and high-end finishes so there’s a perfect meeting space for your needs.

The Salt Lake Inn is located at 1659 West North Temple, just down the street from the heart of Utah’s capital city.

Small businesses are a crucial part of our economy, especially in our state. In fact, 80 percent of Chamber members are small businesses.

The Salt Lake Chamber Women’s Business Center provides small business owners, entrepreneurs and young professionals the critical skills, knowledge, tools and support necessary to increase their success and strengthen the economy. Through consultations, seminars and networking events, small business owners and those seeking to start a business have many resources at the tips of their fingers.

This Saturday is a special day for small businesses. Sandwiched between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Small Business Saturday is our opportunity to support small businesses throughout Utah and the nation. Small business owners can go to to find special marketing materials.

Have a happy and safe Thanksgiving.

I expect a lot of you are spending today shopping at all the big stores to get the best deals for Black Friday. But tomorrow will be your time to Shop Small—small business, that is.

Small Business Saturday is an American Express sponsored day dedicated to supporting small businesses across the county.

Last year, more than $5.5 billion were spent as Americans came together to Shop Small in their communities on Small Business Saturday.

Small businesses are a great resource for state economies. The creation and prosperity of small local businesses is a great way to keep our own economy strong and growing.

For those small business owners out there, you can learn how to be a part of Small Business Saturday by downloading free marketing materials at

So get out there and encourage your friends and family to Shop Small tomorrow for Small Business Saturday… you’re not only helping those businesses, but you’re helping our state. Happy holidays.

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.

This week on the Utah Business Report

Friday, October 4th, 2013

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

The Utah Office of Tourism says the state’s tourism industry grew this past year, reaching $7.4 billion in traveler spending. That is nearly an eight percent increase from 2011. Visitors also contributed $960 million in state and local taxes.

According to the Utah Department of Workforce Services, tourism is a big job creator in the rural parts of Utah, especially in Garfield, Grand and Kane counties. Of course, the Greatest Snow on Earth makes Summit County a big tourism draw, as well. Statewide, the tourism industry supported more than 127,000 jobs last year.

In 2012, 23.5 million visitors from all over the world came to Utah to enjoy our majestic mountains and national parks Utah offers. That’s an all-time high for the Beehive state!

Utah’s five national parks drew more than 6.5 million visits in 2012, while our 14 ski resorts had more than 4 million skier days.

This November, “Dead Sea Scrolls: Life and Faith in Ancient Times” is coming to Salt Lake City at The Leonardo. This exhibit presents one of the most comprehensive collections of ancient artifacts from Israel ever organized, including 20 scrolls, which are displayed 10 at a time. The exhibit includes the oldest known copies of the Hebrew bible.

The artifacts and scrolls in the exhibit combine to provide an intriguing look at one of the most influential periods in history, including the emergence of ancient Israel and the births of Judaism and Christianity in the Holy Land.

For the Utah showing, The Leonardo will also highlight the contributions of scholars and scientists at Brigham Young University that have led to a deeper understanding of the meaning and significance of these precious artifacts.

The Utah Science Technology and Research Initiative—or USTAR—has been awarded the Expanding Research Capacity award at the 2013 State Science and Technology Institute’s Excellence in Technology-Based Economic Development national award program.

The six organizations named as winners of this award serve as national models for states and regions investing in science, technology and innovation to grow their economies and create high-paying jobs.

Thanks to USTAR, the state has recruited many world-class researchers, increased research and development funding attraction, and spurred economic growth.

One of the new technologies USTAR is working on is Utah State University’s STORM project, which is a Sounding Tracking Observatory for Regional Meteorology sensor set to launch in 2016.

The Utah Film Commission wants you to produce and direct its next promotional commercial. This is a great opportunity for local filmmakers to have their work seen by thousands of people, including film industry professionals, during the Sundance Film Festival.

Contestants can submit a campaign or individual commercials promoting Utah as a great place to make motion pictures. Up to eight 30-second commercials will be chosen to represent the Utah Film Commission during the Sundance Film Festival on local broadcast television.

The winners will receive $1,500 dollars, a Sundance Film Festival package, official Utah Film Commission gear, as well as free entry into a drawing to win a GoPro camera.

The contest is free and open to all Utah residents and students attending school in Utah. You can find more information at

According to a recent survey conducted by the Chamber and SelectHealth, most small businesses in Utah are still struggling to understand the significant changes and overwhelming regulations headed their way.

An overwhelming 81 percent of Utah businesses say they are unclear about what the Affordable Care Act requires of them. Three out of four businesses are either opposed to or ambivalent to the act.

Employer-provided health insurance is a top priority for almost all business leaders. However, only one in five think the Affordable Care Act can lead to better coverage for their employees.

The Salt Lake Chamber is working to help businesses of all sizes understand what they can do to counter the ever-increasing cost of health care. The Chamber developed the Employer’s Toolbox, a set of practical steps for business to control health care costs. You can find it at

For the full reports from this week and weeks past, visit KSL Radio 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.

Apply for the next cohort of 10,000 Small Businesses

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

Our economy relies on entrepreneurs to maintain a vibrant and prosperous economic environment. It’s only natural that an investment in small businesses and entrepreneurship would be a good decision.

In a $500 million nationwide investment, Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses aim to provide regional small business owners with a practical foundation for revenue growth and job creation through specifically tailored no-cost education and training, business support services, networking clinics, and capital acquisition strategies. As a scholarship program, 10,000 Small Businesses is completely free to those companies who are accepted. For Utah specifically, the investment in small businesses is $15 million.

10,000 Small Businesses program is now accepting applications for the next cohort of small business owners. The application deadline is this coming Friday, Oct. 4.* You can apply and learn more by clicking here.

Qualifications for the program are:

·     Verified ownership of a business entity for at least two years
·     Minimum of four employees
·     Gross annual revenue of $150,000 to $4 million (some flexibility to this requirement may be granted)

This Thursday, Oct. 3, a final application workshop will take place at Salt Lake Community College, which is Goldman Sachs’ educational partner for administering the 10,000 Small Businesses program. Learn more at

More than thirty people graduated from the inaugural 10,000 Small Businesses cohort this past spring. Over the five month period of the program, the participating companies created upwards of 100 jobs in our community.

The program is better than an MBA – you study your own businesses, not someone else’s. It is 100% focused on identifying and executing on opportunities for growth.

Small business owners and managers, you won’t want to miss out on applying for the next cohort of Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program, which begins January 2014. You can learn more and apply at

* – Even if you miss the October 4 deadline for the cohort starting Jan. 2014, you can still submit your applications to be considered for future cohorts.

Utah named Best State for Entrepreneurs

Tuesday, August 27th, 2013

Ask anyone in Utah and they will tell you that the entrepreneurial spirit here runs strong. Now there’s even more validation to that fact.

A new survey by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and Thumbtack reveals that Utah is the best state for entrepreneurs (as reported by Entrepreneur). Let’s add this to Utah’s growing list of accolades, the most recent of which includes Forbes’ Best State for Business three years in a row and Pollina’s top Pro Business state for the second year.

Thumbtack calls Utah the “friendliest state for small business.” This is largely thanks to Utah’s stable and low regulatory climate. With straightforward business laws, entrepreneurs are able to better focus on their business rather than have to constantly jump through legal hoops. Utah is an easy state to start a business and to make it grow.

Though Utah’s population is largely concentrated along the Wasatch Front corridor, there are a few online resources that help those from more remote parts of the state start up a business and stay connected. For example, we have Business Resource Centers, OneStop Business Registration, services available from entrepreneurial associations like Grow Utah Ventures.

The Salt Lake Chamber’s Women’s Business Center is a great resource for entrepreneurs as well, providing free training and counseling.

The Ewing Marion Akuffman Foundation and Thumbtack surveyed 7,766 small businesses on 16 different categories. Other states who made the best states for entrepreneurs list include Alabama, New Hampshire, Idaho and Kansas.

This week on the Utah Business Report

Friday, August 23rd, 2013

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

Small business owners and managers won’t want to miss the second annual Utah Small Business Summit. This year, the conference will focus on health care.

The conference will feature informative keynote speakers, breakout sessions and an exhibitor gallery filled with organizations and businesses that serve small businesses. In addition to health care, you can get great insight on branding, sales, marketing, international business and customer service.

With the Affordable Care Act making a significant shift in health care later this year and especially in 2014, we want to make sure you have the information and resources you need to make the best decision for your employees and your business.

The Small Business Summit will take place Tuesday, September 10 at the Salt Palace in downtown Salt Lake City. It’s an all-day event, running from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. You can register at here.

Thanks to more than 8,500 Utahns coming together to make a difference in the state’s air quality, the Clear the Air Challenge for 2013 was the most successful challenge to date!

During the month-long Challenge in July, 1.9 million miles and nearly 170,000 vehicle trips were eliminated, resulting in the removal of 1.6 million pounds of emissions from our air. In doing this, more than $1.1 million were saved in vehicle costs. Those numbers trump all other years’ participation by a landslide–and we have all of you to thank.

Over the course of five years, the Challenge has engaged approximately 20,000 participants, saved over 7.1 million miles and eliminated more than 600,000 vehicle trips in Utah.

So a big thank you goes out to everyone who participated and sponsored the Clear the Air Challenge. Congratulations on making such an incredible contribution to improving Utah’s air quality.

As technology advances, everything is going to the cloud. But it’s not just documents; it’s also television. Comcast now offers a cloud-based interactive television in Utah. The X1 platform is initially available to new Xfinity Triple Play customers and will be available to more customer segments in the future.

Unlike other video services available, X1 transforms TV into an interactive and integrated experience. It integrates the largest collection of video with social media features, interactive apps, web content and more.

There will be a sleek, modern user interface, faster and more personalized search and discovery, and more in-home convenience. Now you can record up to four shows while watching another without a hassle.

X1 also has a remote app that allows customers use motions, gestures and voice commands to control their TVs with their Apple handheld devices.

Utah has one of the most diverse economies in the nation. More and more of the jobs we’re creating, and those we’ll create in the coming years, depend on a well-educated workforce, particularly in critical science, technology, engineering and math or STEM fields.

A couple of weeks ago, 120 teachers from 55 schools were trained on the technologies approved for implementation this coming school year as part of the STEM pilot program.

The STEM Action Center and the Salt Lake Center for Science Education gave the teachers a full day of training on eleven different technologies selected for the STEM pilot program. The technologies were selected by representatives and experts from the community, the Utah State Office of Education, the Utah System of Higher Education and private industry.

The STEM Action Center was established to help drive research and the implementation of the best STEM education practices across the state.

For the full reports from this week and weeks past, visit KSL Radio 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.

World Trade & Small Business

Thursday, June 20th, 2013

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared on Free Enterprise.

No priority facing our nation is more important than putting Americans back to work. Nearly 12 million American are unemployed. The United States will need to create 20 million jobs by the year 2020 to replace the jobs lost in the recession and to meet the needs of our growing workforce.

For policymakers in search of solutions, creating a business environment conducive to the success of entrepreneurs and small businesses should be job one. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are the principal drivers of U.S. job growth, generating about two thirds of net new jobs, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration.

A focus on trade is a second obvious ingredient for job-creation success. The opportunity to tap dynamic foreign markets has magnetic appeal because foreign markets represent 80 percent of the world’s purchasing power, 92 percent of its economic growth, and 95 percent of its consumers.

In the United States, entrepreneurs and their firms have played a big role in the boom in trade over the past few years. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. SMEs continued to expand their share of U.S. merchandise exports to 33 percent in 2011 (latest available data), up from 27 percent in 2002.

According to a May 2013 survey by the National Association of Small Businesses (NASB), more small businesses are exporting today than just three years ago. Furthermore, 63 percent of non-exporters said they would be interested in starting to export their goods and/or services, up from just 43 percent in 2010.

Despite this progress, just one in every 100 U.S. SMEs export. According to the NASB survey, non-exporters said their main barrier to selling internationally is a lack of information and an unclear understanding of where to start. And half of small business exporters report spending a minimum of a few months as well as an average of 8.4 percent of their annual operating revenue preparing to export.

These findings underscore the importance of small business tools and resources for exporting as well as robust Export-Import Bank financing.

Opening International Markets

Eliminating foreign barriers to U.S. exports should be another principal focus of the U.S. government’s efforts to harness trade for the creation of jobs — for both large firms and entrepreneurial startups.

While many believe free-trade agreements only benefit large multinationals, the truth could hardly be more different. Faced with steep tariffs or licensing requirements in a promising foreign market, a multinational corporation can often establish a local affiliate to get past trade barriers or hire lawyers to navigate regulatory red tape. Small businesses have no such luxury.

Consider how the kinds of barriers addressed by free-trade agreements impact entrepreneurs and smaller firms — and how these agreements can open the door to success:

  • Non-tariff barriers are especially harmful to smaller companies because they add to the fixed costs of doing business. A $10,000 permit is a nuisance for a big firm; it can be a show-stopper for a smaller one.
  • With the establishment of clear intellectual property rules, trade agreements protect the innovation and creative content captured in many exports; without them, entrepreneurs run the risk of seeing their innovations ripped off, with no redress available.
  • By opening government procurement markets and ensuring transparency in bidding, trade agreements give international entrepreneurs expanded access to lucrative opportunities. These contracts for roads, schools, and clinics are often too small for multinationals to perform profitably, but they are just the kinds of contracts that smaller construction companies, distance learning companies, and medical equipment companies can fulfill beautifully.

In sum, policymakers should think globally as they consider how to foster a business environment in which entrepreneurship and small business can flourish. Tearing down the barriers that shut out exports is vital for firms of all sizes.

[Video: These three small businesses are thriving because of exports]