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.

 

This week on the Utah Business Report

Friday, May 16th, 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 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.

Tomorrow, the Utah Jazz and AT&T will host a public ceremony to debut a new community art project on the exterior of the Artspace Bridge Projects in downtown Salt Lake City.

The 12-by-5 foot mural is titled “All Hands In! Together We Can Make a Change.” The mural comprised of more than 200 ceramic tiles created by local residents and youth from The Road Home shelter with an assist from Jazz forward and artist Jeremy Evans.

The project highlights community building through the power of art and is part of the Jazz and AT&T’s shared commitment to youth development and community enrichment. Art Access, a local non-profit organization that offers inclusive arts programming for Utahns with disabilities and those with limited access to art, helped to facilitate the project.

Art Access also received a $10,000 donation through the Jazz and AT&T’s “Assisting the Community” program, which featured a $5 donation from AT&T for every assist made by the Utah Jazz during the 2013-14 season.

You are invited to join in this unveiling tomorrow at 11 a.m. at Artspace Bridge Projects, located at 511 West 200 South.

Utah is the best state for doing business. You can find out why at the Great Salt Lake Business Conference held at the South Towne Expo Center today and tomorrow. It’s not too late to go!

Spend just a little time at the Great Salt Lake Business Conference, and you’ll discover the real reason behind Utah’s success. It’s the people. In Utah, business is people helping people. In an age that values social networking, you’ll find that nothing beats good, face-to-face meetings with great people.

And this year, the Conference will feed you as well as your business. The best business lunch in town from one of four great restaurants is free with admission. In addition, a new true conference format features 16 seminars taught throughout the show. So there’s plenty to enjoy and much to learn.

It’s only six dollars to attend the Great Salt Lake Business Conference. Again, the conference takes place tomorrow and Wednesday at the South Towne Expo Center from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. Go to slchamber.com for more details.

The Salt Lake Chamber is now accepting nominations for the Athena International and Pathfinder awards.

The Athena International Award is a prestigious national award presented annually to an active member of the Chamber who demonstrates excellence, creativity and initiative in business; provides valuable service by devoting time and energy to improve the quality of life for others in the community; and assists women in reaching their full leadership potential.

The Pathfinder award is presented to a select number of worthy community leaders who have a history of support for women and women’s issues, and who have worked to further the development and recognition of women

The women to be recognized as the Athena and Pathfinders will be honored at this year’s Women and Business Conference, which will take place in November.

You can submit nominations for the Athena and Pathfinders at slchamber.com. Nominations are due by Friday, June 27.

The “Best of State Awards” organization – which recognizes outstanding individuals, organizations and businesses in Utah for excellence – recently announced their 2014 winners.

Chamber member Foxley & Pignanelli is the inaugural winner of the Government Relations category.

Foxley & Pignanelli was established in October 1997 and has represented a number of prominent international, national, and Utah based companies and organizations.

The criteria used for Best of State judges evaluates individuals and organizations that excel in their endeavors, use innovative approaches, and contribute to a better quality of life in Utah.

“By recognizing excellence in our community and sharing examples of success and triumph in so many worthy endeavors, the Best of State Awards hope all will be inspired to reach a little higher, to try a little harder, and to work a little smarter for our dreams and goals.”

Foxley and Pignanelli, along with many other Chamber members who won for 2014, can be found on BestOfState.org.

Utah health insurance agents and employers will see a new Humana when they engage with the health and well-being company in 2014. Humana recently announced a transformed leadership, market development and sales structure with the intent of furthering the company’s commitment to partner with agents and employers in an effort to create a healthier, more productive workforce.

Humana has established closely coordinated teams to serve agents and employers in Utah that will support the market with a new internal team structure. The new sales and service approach reflects Utah’s market need and Humana’s shift to integrated health, on top of a deeper partnership with agents and employers.

The new approach to the market allows Humana to work more closely with agents and employers to co-create health solutions, and then support both with data-driven analysis from Humana’s array of health and well-being assets.

Humana is committed to changing the way agents, employers, health care providers and health companies interact to create better outcomes for individuals and employers.

Derek Miller named new president & CEO of World Trade Center Utah

Tuesday, May 13th, 2014

Editor’s note: This post is republished from the World Trade Center Utah

Derek Miller, 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.

Miller’s focus on increasing exports and foreign investment in Utah will further strengthen the governor’s vision for Utah to “be the best performing economy in the nation and to be recognized as a premiere global business destination.”

“Combining Derek’s background as my chief of staff with his service at the Governor’s Office of Economic Development and the Utah Dept. of Commerce has him well-prepared to help Utah businesses expand into profitable global markets,” says Gov. Herbert. “I want to thank him for his years of service and, though I hate to see him leave, I’m excited about what his continued service will mean to our economy and our state.”

Grateful for the opportunity to have served as the Governor’s chief of staff, Miller says that while his new position is different, the vision and goals are the same – to make Utah a premier global business destination. “I look forward to continuing to be a champion for the principles of free enterprise and economic growth that lead to jobs for Utahns across the state,” he adds.

“Derek is eminently qualified to lead the World Trade Center Utah,” says Scott Anderson, president and CEO of Zions Bank and chair of the WTC Utah Board of Directors. “Utah is increasingly recognized as a leader in the international marketplace, and Derek’s breadth of experience in the governor’s office and beyond will serve to further strengthen Utah’s position in global trade, which is a critical component to our state’s future economic success.”

Miller follows in the footsteps of Lew Cramer, who led the organization notably for seven years and currently serves as WTCU’s vice chair. Cramer retired last November, with Elizabeth Goryunova serving as the interim president and CEO during the transition period.

Before serving in the governor’s office, Miller led the corporate recruitment team, the international trade and diplomacy office and rural development office in the Governor’s Office of Economic Development. His resume includes vast experience in public policy analysis and execution, the legislative process, administrative law, in project management and strategic business planning, accounting, quality assurance, risk management, and in assisting businesses to expand and grow in Utah and in their operations overseas. He has helped convince companies to relocate and move to Utah, creating new jobs for our economy, and has also been instrumental in bringing international companies to the Beehive State.

With his background in law and business, his experience in government, the private sector and in the Governor’s Office, Miller is uniquely qualified to lead the WTCU. “This move is good for Utah. It is good for Utah businesses. It is good for our economy. And it is good for the citizens of Utah,” says Anderson. “Derek will enhance Utah’s reputation as a leader in the international marketplace, and his breadth of experience will serve to further strengthen Utah’s position in global trade, which is a critical component to our state’s future economic success.”

“International opportunities in Utah have reached a nexus and Derek’s experience and leadership will propel the WTCU’s global business focus to a new level,” says Spencer P. Eccles, executive director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development. “I have worked closely with Derek for nearly five years and have witnessed, first-hand, his ability to develop and implement collaborative and impactful strategic plans that have greatly benefited the State. I look forward to partnering with him in his new role as CEO of the World Trade Center Utah.”

Gov. Herbert says Miller will transition to his new role at the WTCU once his successor has been named and an announcement is expected in the next few weeks.

Established in in 2006, the World Trade Center Utah (WTCU) has become the epicenter of international activity in Utah, serving more than 3,000 Utah entrepreneurs. Research shows that metro areas with active World Trade Center offices export 270 percent more than areas without these important resources. Merchandise exports in Utah have more than tripled in Utah since the WTCU welcomed its first clients, reaching a record-high $19 billion in exports in 2012. Since its inception the organization has also welcomed 120 foreign ambassadors and over 200 delegations visiting Utah from across the globe.

Utahns trust state government more than most states

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

Residents in Utah have more trust in Utah’s government than 47 other states. In new Gallup poll, 75 percent of Utahn’s place a “great deal/fair amount of trust” in our state’s government.

“Utah continues to be named one of the best managed states in the nation,” said Lane Beattie, president and CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber. “The effective fiscal management of our government and elected officials has earned the trust of Utahns and Utah’s business community.”

Only six states have more than 70 percent of residents with this kind of trust in their government. Placing Utah in the third top spot, North Dakota and Wyoming had 77 and 76 percent of residents who trusted their government. The other states with relatively high trust towards government are South Dakota, Nebraska, Texas and Alaska. The map above indicates the different levels of trustworthiness in different shades of green.

One observation in the Gallup poll was that residents in Republican-leaning states were more likely to trust their state government–something that Utah definitely falls under. Gallup also found that less-populous states were more trusting, which helped to explain why more “red” states lean that way.

At the bottom of the list was Illinois, with only 28 percent of residents saying they have a great deal or fair amount of trust in their government.

This week on the Utah Business Report

Friday, April 18th, 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.

The Utah business community commends the Utah legislature for another great year for business. The 2014 General Session wrapped up in March.

Utah’s economy is in a spectacular position because of the leadership of our Governor, Legislature and our great business community working together to bring compromise for important progress for our state.

Throughout the legislative session, the Salt Lake Chamber Vote website monitored the course of 298 bills that had an impact on business in Utah. Through the Chamber Vote website, more than 9,800 emails were sent to state representatives, asking them to act on policy decisions.

Eleven of 13 business community priority bills passed, and the average of “yes” votes on priority bills stood at 83 percent. With a 93 percent passage of supported bills, 2014 was an excellent year for Utah’s business community.

The newly released Salt Lake Chamber 2014 Legislative Scorecard highlights how the business community’s policy priorities fared. You can find the Legislative Scorecard at slchamber.com.

The landscape of doing business is constantly evolving and women are stepping forward even more.

The fourth annual American Express OPEN State of Women-Owned Businesses Report indicates that Utah has an estimated 73-thousand women-owned firms, employing more than 58-thousand people and doing 13 billion dollars in sales. Since 1997, the national number of women-owned business has increased 68 percent. Utah alone has seen growth of 73.8 percent over that same period.

Talk about women making business happen.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s third annual Center for Women in Business Summit last month, celebrated the successes of business women around the country. This national summit also marked the launch of a new report, titled, “Women-Owned: Businesses Carving a New American Business Landscape.” This report highlights the growing impact of women entrepreneurs and small business owners on the national economy. The report also says that Utah is one of the top states for self-employed women with a special mention of the Chamber’s Women’s Business Center. You can find more information at slchamber.com.

When people think of the Red Cross they usually think of donating blood or large disasters, like the 2011 tornadoes and Hurricane Sandy. With all the attention received by major disasters, people don’t realize the most common disaster threats aren’t earthquakes or floods—it’s home fires and wildfires.

In fact, the Red Cross in Utah responded to more than 220 families who were affected by house fires in the last year. They help by providing families emotional and physical support, a warm place to stay, food and clothing to start with the recovery process. Red Cross also continually works with communities to be as prepared as possible.

During the months of May and June, the “Fire Hurts, Red Cross Helps” campaign will be drawing attention to this danger. They seek strong champions for this campaign and improve safety in our state. Fire hurts… and you can help too.

If you are business owner or individual wishing to participate please visit redcross.org/Utah. The American Red Cross is a non-governmental organization who relies on the generosity of our communities to continue our services.

Dental Select, a nationally recognized dental insurance company, recently released a new mobile identification card app for smartphones.

Staying current with technology, the app creates simple and quick access to dental and vision ID cards. Users can save or email a virtual ID card, making it simple to transfer records to the patient’s provider and eliminating the need to carry a paper ID card.

Dental Select’s mobile app is now available for Android and iOS devices. Downloads are free for all Dental Select subscribers of and covered family members.

Headquartered in Salt Lake City, Dental Select is a privately-held company with 25 of experience providing benefits for groups, families and individuals. Founded in 1989, Dental Select has licenses to sell its insurance plans in 19 different states.

Dental Select was named by Inc. Magazine as one of the 500 fastest growing privately held businesses in the United States and is ranked as Utah’s No. 1 dental benefits provider.

For the fifth year in a row, SelectHealth was ranked highest in member satisfaction among other health plans in the Intermountain West region. The J.D. Power 2014 Member Health Plan Study measures satisfaction among more than 34,000 members of 136 health plans in 18 regions in the county. SelectHealth received the highest ranking in each of the study’s categories.

At SelectHealth, member advocates work with patients to help them find the right doctor for their needs, schedule appointments or find a nearby health care facility with availability appointments.

The personal touch of SelectHealth resonates with consumers. One SelectHealth member recently noted their “tone and attitude let me know that they were on my side, which was a very pleasant surprise.”

At the end of the day, quality service is the key to superior customer experience and engenders a feeling of trust and dependability—something every business should be instilling in their customers. Congratulations, SelectHealth, for being among the best of the best!

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 feature it on the Utah Business Report.

A Giant In Our City – Michael O. Leavitt

Friday, April 11th, 2014

On Thursday, April 10, the Salt Lake Chamber honored former Utah governor Michael O. Leavitt as A Giant In Our City, one of the most prestigious business awards in the state. You can learn more about the award here.

To a crowd of more than 1,500 people, from business and community leaders to politicians and more, former Massachusetts governor and former presidential nominee Mitt Romney shared a handful of personal memories, including those involving Gov. Leavitt’s love for practical jokes.

It was a wonderful evening as we honored such a great man. As Salt Lake Chamber President & CEO Lane Beattie said, “One of the best things about the Giant In Our City award is the inspiration these Giants give us all–to be better people and to do our part.”

See photos from the Giant in Our City event on Flickr.

Press release: http://slchamber.com/news-room/read/article/256

Media Coverage – Fox 13  |  Deseret News  |  Salt Lake Tribune 

*   *   *

This was Gov. Leavitt’s acceptance speech at the Giant In Our City gala on April 10, 2014. 

Shortly after the 2008 election, Jackie and I joined Mitt and Ann, and some other friends for a short stay in a tiny Caribbean country. We were escorted to the customs office. It consisted of single desk in what looked like a warehouse building next to the airport.

While filling out the required papers Mitt came to the blank requiring occupation. He said, “Hmmm, occupation—how should I answer that?”

A member of the group made a suggestion. “Mitt, put—President, searching for a country.”

In about a year, our country will again be searching for a President. If you’re available, I, and countless others, will once again, be at your side.

A few years ago, I represented the United States at international meetings held in Russia. As part of the trip, I met with a member of the Russian Duma (their Congress). It turns out, he was a famous polar explorer. He regaled us with stories of his conquests, and displayed his awards. Let’s just say, he had a big personality.

As we stood to leave, we exchanged business cards. Underneath his name was listed his title: “Hero of the Russian People.” Now there’s a great title. Tomorrow, I’m going to order some new business cards. They will simply say, “Mike Leavitt, Giant In Our City.” How good is that?

So, thank you very much.

In all seriousness, this designation is far more than a great title. It is a singular honor. Being included on the same list as the true giants, who have previously received this honor, is among the most notable and kindest things ever expressed about me.

Your kindness is rightly shared by my wife and partner in everything, Jackie. She is the giant in my life. She is the North Star of our family. She is the person living at our address who most deserving of admiration.

I wish to recognize my children and extended family. They provide me unwavering love and support. A quick story captures a glimpse of their sacrifice.

I had been governor about for about a year. Often I sent the highway patrol security detail home when I had no public duties. An errand needed to be run, so I took our son Chase and we drove to the store in our family’s car. Chase was about eight years old at the time. When we reached the store, he looked around and said, “Daddy, what about the police?”
“The police?” I said.
“What if the police catch you not working?”

I realized he thought that the highway patrol traveled with his dad to make sure he never quit working. I knew at that moment, my life needed an adjustment.

For a young family, living in the governors’ mansion is an adventure. One day I called the family quarters at the mansion. Westin, who was about three, answered the phone. The conversation went something like this:

“Hello?”
“Can I talk to Mom?”
“She’s busy.”
“What about Anne Marie?”
“She’s busy too.”
“What are they busy doing?”
“Looking for me.”

One summer morning, our teenage sons, asked if it was okay to have a few friends over to the mansion on Friday night to see a boxing match on television. There is a large room in the basement and on nights like that, it was not uncommon to have a big group of their friends over to watch a sporting event of some sort. I would go down and enjoy it with them.

Just after dark, Jackie and drove down South Temple street, returning from an event at the University. From about 9th east I could see this very strange glow on the side of the governor’s mansion. As we got closer I could see that the entire east side of the mansion had been covered in white. The boys had used PVC pipe, rope, old bed sheets and masking tape to create a massive movie screen and draped it over the entire east side of the mansion. It looked like a drive-in movie. I could see boxers that we 30 feet tall all the way from 8th east. As I got closer I could see kids, lots and lots of kids, sitting on the lawn, noisily cheering the fighters.

As we walked up the drive way, I said to the head of the mansion security,
“What in the world is going on here?”
“Guv,” he said, “the boys said you were okay with this.”

Jackie, not a fight fan, said, “I think you need to handle this.” She retired to the house, only to find our bedroom was now covered by the backlit images of sweaty boxers.

As I got to the backyard, I noticed Mike and Taylor busily working the crowd, and their five year old brother Westin and sister, Anne Marie, at the back gate collecting admissions to cover the cost of pay-per-view. And the kids, well, they just kept coming. By the time the main event arrived, there were hundreds. To their credit, they were noisy but behaved.

I thought—what’s a guy to do at this point? I found a place on the grass and enjoyed what turned out to be a great fight night.

To our son Taylor, a teenager, the mansion was an endless opportunity for practical jokes. He had a very realistic rubber arm he would occasionally use to startle someone. I was okay with that until a particular night when we were entertaining an arts group in the main parlor. A harpist played as people mingled. As I spoke with a rather prominent woman, I could tell from her eyes that she was a bit startled and distracted—eyes focused on the fireplace. As I turned around, there it was, the arm—dangling from chimney.

There’s not much to say at a moment like that. I said, “Do you have teenagers?” The good news was, she did.

It is a tribute to Jackie, that each of our five children weathered the experience and are productive and responsible adults, in whom we are enormously proud. Best of all, they are producing grandchildren, several of whom are here tonight. Likewise, my parents and several of my brothers are here.

Being governor is a wonderful experience. Being a member of the governor’s family sometimes isn’t. They have all endured moments of ironic unfairness and remained wonderfully supportive.

As many of you know, my father’s name is Dixie. He preceded me in Utah politics, representing southern Utah in the legislature for many years. St. George is known as Utah’s Dixie. Early Mormon pioneers thought the area reminded them of the south. The word Dixie has been written in giant white letters across the red rock mesa, visible to the entire town. Tonight, I am prepared to confession that I was 15 years old before I figured out that my Dad didn’t really write his name on that mountain.

Likewise, this audience is peppered with colleagues, legislators, business leaders, supporters and friends I worked side by side with. Thank you for yet another expression of support. I will acknowledge, for all of us, what a remarkable privilege public service is. The best rewards are a sense of accomplishment and friendships. Both last forever.

And of course, I wish to thank the SL Chamber of Commerce, the sponsor of this dinner for choosing to honor me in this way. Lane Beattie, President of the Chamber, requires a special and personal thank you. Over the years, Lane and I have served shoulder to shoulder. For the entire time I was governor, Lane was either majority leader or President of the Utah Senate. As you know, the relationship between governors and legislatures are designed to produce tension. However, in the end, things have to be done, agreement has to be reached. The process requires leaders who have the confidence of their colleagues and a knack for knowing when to facilitate the deal. Many of the things history will point to as shaping the state’s future, Lane Beattie was a major force in making it happen.

The Chamber of Commerce, under Lane’s leadership, and with the support of his remarkable board, has become a powerful influence for good in our state. The organization provides important leadership in this state and a voice of reason.

We have a great state with a proud tradition of success and prosperity. I have come to understand that public leadership is a generation relay.Many of the most profound problems are not ours to solve with finality, but rather to incrementally improve during our temporary stewardship.

The Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce is a part of the foundation of this great state. Thanks to them for honoring me. Thanks to all of you for attending.

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.