Championing community prosperity has always been a central focus of the Chamber. This charge has led the Chamber to engage on initiatives that some would think are not core business issues. While many help make Utah a better place to not only work but also live, the Chamber has played an outsize role in elevating Utah’s natural environment.
While Utah’s air quality is better now than it has been in decades, the issue reemerged as a major public concern in 2010. Not only was the state’s prized quality of life at stake, but also its access to transportation funding and future economic development. Poor air quality also risked greater regulatory burdens and increased costs for business, potentially hurting our reputation as having one of the best business climates in the country.
“It’s very easy to look at our air quality and say that it is someone else’s problem,” said Keith Rattie, former Chamber chair and Questar president and CEO. “The business community needed to be involved in formulating and implementing the solution.”
The Chamber organized a comprehensive effort to reposition the business community’s stance on air quality.
“Local chambers know private sector solutions are better than government mandates,” said Ryan Evans, former Chamber vice president of business and community relations.
The Chamber established the Clean Air Champions program to engage the business community in an innovative program to save fuel, reduce vehicle emissions, and improve business attraction and retention in Salt Lake City. The program helped reshape the business case for better air quality and repositioned the business community as responsible environmental stewards. It was a true business solution that improved not only economic well-being, but also the quality of life in the region. The program was so successful Gov. Gary Herbert made it the official business arm of the state’s clean air efforts through the Utah Clean Air Partnership (UCAIR).
“We get so many people that come to Utah because of our quality of life. Why in the world would we want to jeopardize that?” said Beattie. “In fact, the more we find ways to preserve it, the better we are for businesses.”