Utah ranked top pro-business state by Pollina three years running

Thursday, July 17th, 2014

In its eleventh year, the Pollina Corporate Top 10 Pro-Business Study for 2014 has listed Utah as the top state for business for the third year in a row. Again, Utah stands out above the rest of the states as “a symbol of economic growth that other states should emulate,” according to Brent Pollina VP of Park Ridge, Illinois-based Pollina Corporate Real Estate and co-author of the 2014 study.

“Under Governor Gary Herbert’s leadership, Utah has held the top position for the third year in a row. In 2005, Utah ranked #23 and by 2012 it ranked #1 moving up in rank 22 places in only seven years,” he explains. “Utah is a great example of what enlightened and motivated political leadership can accomplish with a solid plan. Like the early Utah pioneers, the recent political leaders of Utah have relied on their own ‘industry’ to prosper.”

Through efforts by Gov. Herbert, the Economic Development Corporation of Utah and the Salt Lake Chamber–both on their own and collectively–the focus has been to make Utah an environment where business and the economy can thrive. A few things that make Utah so great business include a stable regulatory environment, low unemployment, ease of starting a business, low operation costs, a well-educated workforce and, of course, the great quality of life our state offers.

In Utah’s report card from the Pollina study, Utah earned an A grade in various categories, such as unemployment rate, high school completion, right-to-work, workers compensation, corporate tax index, business inventory tax, property tax, regulatory and litigation environments, cost of electricity, as well as marketing/website/response to new and existing employers in state education. Utah also had a strong showing in overall tax environment.

The categories where Utah could improve include average teachers compensation, incentives and funding per college student.

“A handful of states have shown exemplary leadership in growing their economies and employment base while countering these trends by improving their business environment, adding new companies and growing existing companies,” said Dr. Ron Pollina, an economist and corporate relocation expert. “These states have broken the bonds that hold others back and positioned themselves for success today, tomorrow and the remainder of the decade, which is a remarkable achievement in the aftermath of the Great Recession.”

The Pollina Corporate study, a joint endeavor with the American Economic Development Institute, “draws attenttion to those states with political leaders who have a strategic plan that works as well as states that need help.” The study examines 32 factors relative to state efforts to be pro-business and has become recognized as the “Gold Standard” for evaluating states. It is the most comprehensive and impartial examination (with no advertising) of states available.

To have Utah stay on top of this prestigious list for three years in a row means something special is going on in the Beehive State that spells good things for business, our economy and our community.

 

Rodeo: A Days of ’47 Tradition

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014

Rodeo has been a tradition celebrating Utah’s heritage for 160 years. The pioneers arrived in the valley in 1847, and in July 1849 they held their first celebration with a parade and a rodeo.

In the early days rodeo was a community event, organized by people who wanted to be part of the celebration – much like it still is today. The event was called “Covered Wagon Days.” The Sons and Daughters of the Utah Pioneers eventually took over the organization and planning of the celebration, giving the parade and rodeo uniformity. In 1943 the decision was made to rename the event “Days of ‘47,” to incorporate the inaugural year.

The 2014 Days of ’47 Komatsu Equipment Rodeo is back at the EnergySolutions Arena this year. The rodeo will run between July 21 and July 26 with shows starting at 7 p.m. (July 26 start time is 6 p.m.)

So join in the celebration with six big nights of bull riding, bronc riding, steer wrestling, barrel racing, and roping by 400 of the nation’s top cowboys and cowgirls! Monday night is bullriding only with a special event by the PBR. Tuesday night is Family Night with discount tickets for families. Wednesday night is Hero’s Night with discounts to military and law enforcement personnel that purchase tickets at the gate and provide valid I.D.

Each night will also feature free concerts by artists and bands such as The Charley Jenkins Band, Michael Martin Murphy, and No Limits. On Saturday, the hit band Train will put on a public concert on 300 West following the rodeo – absolutely free, thanks to a sponsorship from Zions Bank.

You can find discount coupons for all tickets and all rodeo performances at the Salt Lake Chamber, Utah Maverik Stores or Zions Bank locations. Proceeds benefit United Way’s “Changing the Odds Campaign” for at-risk kids. Buy tickets now at the EnergySolutions Arena.

The Days of ’47 Rodeo brings you the best rodeo in Utah to celebrate our state holiday. Join the celebration next week! For more details, visit DaysOf47.com.

Get your rodeo on and celebrate one of Utah’s longest standing traditions!

This week on the Utah Business Report

Saturday, July 5th, 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.

For the full recorded 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 feature it on the Utah Business Report.

Utah recently earned two high accolades again. For the second year in a row, Utah has been named the most small business-friendly state in the country in the Small Business Friendliness Survey conducted by Thumbtack.com. In the survey’s third year, Utah improved almost all of its scores in the different categories to earn an A+ in nine of the 11 categories, which include: overall friendliness, ease of starting a business, ease of hiring, regulations, employment, labor and hiring, tax code, licensing, environmental, and zoning. Utah tied with Idaho for the most A+ grades, but fared better in ease of hiring.

The U.S. Chamber also praised Utah in its newly released Enterprising States report, ranking it the third overall performer in economic performance. In this report, Utah landed in the top six in each of the five policy categories. One major driver of this strength is the state’s robust mixture and diversity of industries. Utah’s economy has been consistently ranked as one of the nation’s most diverse.

To learn more about Utah’s most recent accolades, visit slchamber.com/blog

Today is the first day of the Clear the Air Challenge! The Challenge runs through the entire month of July. We encourage Utahns to drive less and drive smarter to reduce vehicle emissions and collectively improve Utah’s air quality. Each trip saved makes a difference to the quality of our air.

This year, the Challenge goal is to eliminate 250,000 vehicle trips, 2 million vehicle miles and to engage 10-thousand participants in the Challenge.

Thanks to a partnership with UDOT’s TravelWise and a grant from UCAIR, the Challenge has invested in a new tracking technology that makes logging your trips saved faster and easier—from your mobile device or computer. Also, there is a built-in trip planner as part of the new tracker.

Awards will be given to those who participate each week during the Challenge, so get involved! Challenge your coworkers, friends and family to help clear the air. The Clear the Air Challenge is an excellent time to try new ways of transportation – from your daily commute to family errands. You can sign up for the Clear the Air Challenge, join a team and start tracking your miles saved at www.cleartheairchallenge.org.

The Salt Lake Chamber is now calling for sponsors for the 14th Annual Women In Business Summer Social, presented by Questar Corporation. The Summer Social is the premier summer event organized by the Business Women’s Forum.

The Summer Social brings together more than 250 of Utah’s business and career women, for productive networking in an exciting venue with a chance to support women in business. This is a great opportunity for sponsors to get their names in front of a dynamic group of people in a fun and interactive environment.

This year, the Summer Social will take place August 14 at the Bill and Pat Child Family Community Hall in the new Spencer Fox Eccles Business Building at the U of U.

The proceeds from the Summer Social support the Women’s Business Center at the Salt Lake Chamber, which accelerates businesses through counseling, training and networking.

You can learn more about sponsorship and attending the Women In Business Summer Social at slchamber.com/summersocial.

Rodeo has been a tradition in celebrating Utah’s heritage 160 years. The pioneers arrived in the valley in 1847, and in July, 1849 they held their first celebration with a parade and a rodeo.

In the early days rodeo was a community event, organized by people who wanted to be part of the celebration – much like it still is today. The event was called “Covered Wagon Days”. The Sons and Daughters of the Utah Pioneers eventually took over the organization and planning of the celebration, giving the parade and rodeo uniformity. In 1943, the decision was made to rename and incorporate the “Days of ’47” event.

The 2014 Days of ’47 Komatsu (koh-MAHT-su) Equipment Rodeo is back at the EnergySolutions Arena this year. The Rodeo will run between July 22nd and July 26th. Performances will begin at 7 o’clock p.m. from the 22nd to the 25th, and at 6 p.m. on the 26th.

The Days of ’47 Rodeo is one of Utah’s longest standing traditions, bringing you the best rodeo in Utah to celebrate our state holiday. Join the celebration next month. For more details, visit DaysOf47.com.

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 www.cleartheairchallenge.org.

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 bhoyle@slchamber.com.

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 revans@slchamber.com.

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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 mmerrill@slchamber.com.

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Regulation

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 jjones@slchamber.com.

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Water

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 mmerrill@slchamber.com.

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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 jscott@prosperity2020.com.

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 jjohnsson@slchamber.com.

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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 mmerrill@slchamber.com.

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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 mmerrill@slchamber.com.

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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 mmerrill@slchamber.com.

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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 mmerrill@slchamber.com.

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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 jjones@slchamber.com.

 

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 jesse@downtownslc.org.

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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 wtcutah.com.

Utah unemployment lowest since 2008

Monday, June 23rd, 2014

The numbers are in. Utah has the lowest unemployment rate it has seen since before the recession–3.6 percent. This is a 0.2 percent drop from April.

The Utah Department of Workforce Services (DWS) released the numbers for May on Friday. With a modest rise of 37,500 jobs from May of last year, Utah’s non-farm payroll employment grew by an estimated 2.9 percent. DWS reports that approximately 52,000 Utahns were unemployed and actively looking for a job last month. This is the kind of slow and steady improvement that proves Utah is doing something right.

“Strong economies don’t occur by accident,” said Natalie Gochnour, the Chamber’s chief economist and associate dean of the David Eccles School of Business. “Utah has a vibrant economy because Utah companies and the workers they employ create value. Elected officials have also helped by creating a business-minded environment with appropriate infrastructure investment and a reasonable tax and regulatory structure.”

“The advantage Utah has is its broad range of industries, many of which are performing well,” said Salt Lake Chamber president and CEO Lane Beattie. “It’s encouraging to see numbers like these come out and show that Utah is ahead of the curve, creating jobs, and proving itself as a great place to live and work with ample opportunity.”

DWS also reported growth in all 10 private sector industries groups, each posting net job increases. The largest increases were in trade, transportation and utilities (9,800), followed by construction (5,400) and even government (5,200). These numbers continue to show that Utah is showing steady and varied growth across all industries–something that the strength of our economy depends on.

On a national scale, the unemployment rate didn’t budge from 6.3 percent, further proving that Utah is performing well.

“While we have the third lowest unemployment rate and the fourth highest job growth rate of any state, it’s even more important that our growth is distributed across a broad spectrum of industries,” said Utah Gov. Gary Herbert.

“The goal is to have balanced, strong and consistent economic growth and that’s exactly what we have in Utah,” said Juliette Tennert, chief economist for the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget.

The Salt Lake Chamber joins with Gov. Gary Herbert to make job creation a top priority. We support the governor’s plan to facilitate the creation of 100,000 jobs in 1,000 days. As of May 2014, Utah has created 103,000 jobs since November 2011, reaching this goal well ahead of schedule. The Chamber also has a complementary private sector job creation plan, the Utah Jobs Agenda. This year, Utah’s private sector is set to achieve the Utah Jobs Agenda goal of creating 150,000 jobs in five years—more than a year ahead of schedule. We will continue to make job creation a major focus.

Utah, a top overall performer in Enterprising States

Thursday, June 19th, 2014

It’s no secret that Utah is one of the top-performing states in the country. The most recent accolades come from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Enterprising States report, which indicates that Utah is the top overall performer for 2014.

In Enterprising States, Utah landed in the top six in each of the five policy categories and ranked 3rd in overall economic performance, making it the only state to finish in the top 10 on all six lists.

To quote the Enterprising States report:

Utah’s economy remained stronger than those of most other states during 2013. According to Utah’s Workforce Research and Analysis Division of the Department of Workforce Services, one major driver of this strength is the state’s robust mixture and diversity of industries. Utah’s economy has been consistently ranked as one of the nation’s most diverse (4th for 2012 data) with manufacturing in the northern Wasatch Front, a varied services sector in Salt Lake County, the tech hub in Provo-Orem, mining/oil and gas in the eastern region, and leisure and hospitality in Summit County and in south-southeastern Utah.

Utah ranked particularly well in short-term job growth (2nd), long-term job growth (3rd), gross state product growth (3rd), higher education degree output (3rd), STEM job growth (4th), business birthrate (4th), and in the top five in all of the export categories, which is a pleasant surprise considering Utah is a land-locked state.

The Enterprising States report was released at the Small Business Summit in Washington, D.C., earlier this month. The report takes an in-depth look at the priorities, policies and programs of the 50 states that are vital for job growth and economic prosperity. Each state is evaluated and ranked for its overall job growth and economic performance and its performance across five policy areas:

  • Exports and international trade
  • Technology and entrepreneurship
  • Business climate
  • Talent pipeline
  • Infrastructure

This year’s study related those policies and practices to the need for collaboration between education, workforce development, and economic development to combat the nation’s growing skills gap, the report stated.

Clear the Air Challenge aims high for 2014

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

The 6th Annual Clear the Air Challenge is starting again in Utah this July—with goals to take it further than any year prior and new tools to help make it possible. The Clear the Air Challenge will take place July 1 – 31, 2014.

“We’ve had big successes in the past, but we can and will strengthen our efforts this year,” said Jonathan Johnson, Chairman of the Board of Overstock.com. “During the month-long Clear the Air Challenge, we encourage Utahns to drive less and drive smarter to reduce vehicle emissions and collectively improve Utah’s air quality. Each trip saved makes a difference to the quality of our air.”

The Clear the Air Challenge goals for this year aim to:
• Eliminate 250,000 vehicle trips (up from the 176,000 trips eliminated last year)
• Save 2 million vehicle miles driven (up from the 1.9 million miles saved last year)
• Engage 10,000 participants (up from the 8,400 participants last year)

Over the past five years, Clear the Air Challenge participants have saved more than 7.1 million vehicle miles traveled, saving more than nine million pounds of emissions and eliminating more than 600,000 car trips. We encourage people and businesses throughout Utah to take the Challenge this summer to increase those numbers even further, to make an even bigger difference in Utah’s overall air quality.

Thanks to a partnership with UDOT TravelWise and a grant from UCAIR, the Challenge invested in new tracking technology this year that makes logging your trips saved faster and easier—from your mobile device or computer. There is a built-in trip planner as part of the new tracker. Anyone can enter in a starting and ending location and receive carpool options, transit routes, or biking and walking routes. The new tracker gives the amount of emissions you’ll save and the time it will take to make your trip. The new tracker also integrates with social media and participants can, for example, share a trip saved on Facebook. Through this new tool, the Challenge hopes more people who don’t typically use transit or carpool programs see other options to get to their destinations. The new tracker can be found at ClearTheAirChallenge.org.

To encourage people to use transit, Utah Transit Authority is giving away 4,500 RideClear passes during the month randomly via Twitter.  Additionally, the Challenge has also established a partnership with Enterprise CarShare whereby they will provide Challenge participants usage of their cars in July.

By participating in the Challenge and tracking your miles saved, participants are eligible for great prizes from Clear the Air Challenge sponsors, from bikes, skis, clothing, gift cards and much more.

“The Clear the Air Challenge is the perfect opportunity for people in SLC, Ogden, Logan, Provo, Moab, St. George—everywhere,” said Amanda Smith, Executive Director, Utah Department of Environmental Quality. “We all need to think about how we travel and how it impacts the air we breathe.”

The Clear the Air Challenge is an excellent time to try new ways of transportation – from your daily commute to family errands. Our communities are changing quickly making alternative transportation easier and faster. These small personal actions add up to cleaner air for everyone.

You can sign up for the Clear the Air Challenge, join a team and start tracking your miles saved at www.cleartheairchallenge.org.

A big thank you goes to the sponsors of the Clear the Air Challenge for making it possible this year: Salt Lake Chamber, TravelWise, UCAIR, Fidelity Investments, Penna Power Brian Hayes, RioTinto, Overstock.com, UTA, Zions Bank and Enterprise CarShare.

Utah tops Small Business Friendliness Survey again

Thursday, June 12th, 2014

For the second year in a row, Utah has been named the most small business-friendly state in the country in the Small Business Friendliness Survey conducted by Thumbtack.com in partnership with the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

“After a two-month survey of thousands of small business owners nationwide, Utah has emerged as the top state for business friendliness once again,” says Jon Lieber, Chief Economist of Thumbtack. “Creating a business climate that is welcoming to small, dynamic businesses is more important than ever, and for small businesses looking for an educated workforce and a welcoming environment, Utah is a great place to locate.”

In the survey’s third year, Utah improved almost all of its scores in the different categories to earn an A+ in nine of the 11 categories, which include: overall friendliness, ease of starting a business, ease of hiring, regulations, employment, labor and hiring, tax code, licensing, environmental, and zoning. Utah tied with Idaho for the most A+ grades, but fared better in ease of hiring. The lowest grade Utah received was a B+ in visibility of training and networking programs, which the state ranked 14th in, so it’s still better than most states. Salt Lake City, in particular, also performed well in the survey as the friendliest city west of Texas.

One of the key findings for Utah from the survey was that the small businesses in Utah were the most optimistic about the outlook for their state economy, and the 6th most optimistic about the economy on the national scale. The survey also found that “small businesses reported improvement from 2013 both in the ease of hiring and hiring regulations, but training programs continue to be a relative weak spot for the state.”

Just because the training programs may not be well-known doesn’t mean they aren’t there. Programs through the Small Business Administration and those like the Chamber’s Women’s Business Center can be great resources for those wanting to start a small business by providing training, consulting, access to capital and grants, and much more. The objective of the Utah Small Business Coalition to bring more awareness to the number of organizations offering tools and resources for small business in Utah as well.

The full survey results can be seen here and include full sets of rankings for states and cities going back three years, along with dozens of easily searchable quotes from Utah small businesses.

The Small Business Friendliness Survey draws upon data from over 12,000 small business owners, providing new insights into state and local business environments across the nation. The Thumbtack.com Small Business Friendliness Survey is the largest survey of its kind and is the only survey to obtain data from an extensive, nationwide sample of small business owners themselves to determine the most business-friendly locations. The top rated states overall were Utah, Idaho, Texas, Virginia and Louisiana. The lowest rated were Rhode Island, Illinois, California, Connecticut and New Jersey.

How excessive regulations stifle small businesses

Thursday, June 5th, 2014

According to revised GDP numbers, instead of being nearly flat, the economy actually shrank by 1 percent in the first quarter of 2014. Growth is expected to bounce back later in the year, but ever since the end of the Great Recession, the economy has struggled to produce enough economic growth to return to full employment.

What’s holding back our economy from growing faster so it can produce more jobs and higher wages?

John Dearie, Executive Vice President at the Financial Services Forum and co-author of “Where the Jobs Are: Entrepreneurship and the Soul of the American Economy,” thinks that the vast amount regulations facing entrepreneurs plays a big role [emphasis mine]:

At roundtables we conducted with entrepreneurs in 12 cities across the United States, I and a colleague, Courtney Geduldig, heard a number of major themes everywhere we went—remarkable, given the size and diversity of the U.S. economy. One recurring message is that regulatory burden, complexity, and uncertainty is undermining entrepreneurs’ ability to successfully launch new businesses, expand, and create jobs.

“They can be federal, state, or local—and sometimes they conflict,” Alan Blake of Austin-based Yorktown Technologies told us. “Identifying, understanding, and complying with all these regulations is a huge loss of productivity…Entrepreneurs don’t have the resources to hire an in-house counsel or a chief financial officer. They’re trying to do all of it themselves.”

“It’s as if the politicians and regulators in Washington want me to fail—and spend all their time thinking up new ways to ensure that I do,” said Sharon Delay, founder of Adjunct Solutions in Westerville, Ohio. “Quit throwing ridiculous roadblocks in front of me! You either want me to be the engine of the economy or you don’t!”

See what Sidecar and other transportation disruptors are going through.

Dearie continues:

To be sure, regulation is essential to market economies. It establishes the rules of competition, ensures a level playing field, governs participants’ behavior, and protects consumers, public health and safety, private property, and environmental resources.

But regulation is not free, or without consequence. Regulation imposes costs—costs borne principally by businesses.

One cost is less job creation. Andy Puzder, CEO of CKE Restaurants, owner of the Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s burger chains, said that the “unnavigable regulatory maze” has made it hard to “create those business models that justify investing to create more jobs.”

Utah is in a fortunate position when it comes to regulations and starting a small business. Thumbtack calls Utah the “friendliest state for small business” with it’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.

Now let’s see if the rest of the country can catch up on the trend to better our economy through less regulation on small business.

Utah Business Week: Immersing teens in business

Wednesday, June 4th, 2014

What kind of skills are businesses looking for? What skills and knowledge are necessary in today’s workforce? Well, Utah Business Week (UBW) is a week-long business experience that exposes high school students to all aspects of business, giving them valuable experience and skills that they can take with them to whatever job and career they end up choosing.

For one week, students attend classes at Utah State University which are taught by some of Utah’s most prominent business professionals. Students are divided into companies where they develop a product and create a logo and radio commercial to market their product. A panel of judges evaluates their work to select winning companies.

Students also compete in a simulated business experience where they have to make business decisions regarding supply and demand, price point, personnel, facilities and equipment needs, advertising, research and development, and much more.

“It doesn’t matter whether you’re more creative or analytical; your strengths can be used in various facets of business and you may not even realize it,” said Mikael Short, Salt Lake Chamber communications coordinator and Utah Business Week alumni. “I didn’t think I’d be much of a business person, but Utah Business Week opened up my eyes to how my creative side can be an asset to a business. ”

When students aren’t working on projects with their companies, they interact in a very intimate setting with top business executives and learn from their years of business expertise. This year, students will hear from representatives from Goldman Sachs, Boeing, Questar, Zions Bank, and Workers Compensation Fund among other great Utah companies.

UBW isn’t all business–there are dances, athletic activities, and so much more than just sitting in a classroom.

Learn more about UBW in the video below with Greg Summerhays, director of PR for Workers Compensation Fund, the title sponsor for Utah Business Week.

Students from all over the state are able to participate in this program for only $100 for the entire week. Generous contributions from some of Utah’s top make it possible for students to attend for such a minimal fee.

UBW 2014 will take place from July 27 through August 2. The deadline to apply is Friday, June 27. For more information and to register, go to www.utahbusinessweek.org. For questions,call Chelci Fullmer at 385.351.8340.