A true testament to the Chamber’s leadership came as the state and nation faced one of the greatest economic downturns in generations. The business community rallied, and Utah managed to handle the effects of the “Great Recession” better than most states. Key to that success were the efforts of the Chamber and a proactive business community.
In early 2011, the Chamber launched the Utah Jobs Agenda with a 10-point plan to create 150,000 new jobs over the next five years. The effort made job creation the primary focus for the business community.
“The strength of our future is jobs,” Beattie said. “Business leaders’ first and highest priority is restoring the Utah economy to full employment.”
The effort was led in part by former board chair, Clark Ivory, CEO of Ivory Homes. “We, as businesses, have got to do it,” Ivory said. “We are the solution… not just government. We do it through investment and innovation.”
As with many Chamber initiatives, elected officials grabbed on to the goal. During his 2012 State of the State address, Gov. Gary Herbert joined the business community in pushing to accelerate Utah’s job growth by calling for the creation of 100,000 private sector jobs in 1,000 days.
These goals became a rallying call for economic development and put job creation at the center of public policy for the state. This made the Beehive State a force to be reckoned with in attracting companies and jobs, not only on a national level but internationally as well.
“The exciting thing about Utah is the enthusiasm and determination about job development, from Governor Herbert to the Salt Lake Chamber and on down. The focus on job development is significant.
The people that I deal with feel a sense of community, a sense of being on the same team and moving in the same direction,” said Mark Lehman, president of the Utah chapter of the Association for Corporate Growth. “People talk about the unemployment numbers, but the numbers don’t matter. What matters is we are on the same page and we are creating jobs in a way that is efficient and sustainable.”
Both the Governor and Chamber met their goals in 2015 — more than a year ahead of schedule. Utah became, and continues to be, among the top job creation states in the nation, acclaimed by national publications as the best state for business and ranked as one of the top-performing economies in the country.
“This recognition reflects our work to create a thriving and diverse economy,” said Beattie. “We are fortunate to have a young and vibrant talent pool. Our exports are increasing, and we have a thriving tech sector. We are reaping the benefits of both public and private infrastructure investments made during the recession. Utah is fortunate to have both a governor and legislature who are business-minded. Add an engaged business community, and we believe we have found a formula for success in Utah.”