I want to use this month’s President’s Message to share my vision for the Salt Lake Chamber and my vision for the state, capital city and business community. As you know, the Chamber is capital city in name and statewide in mission. That mission is to be the voice of business, and this voice is becoming increasingly important from the halls of the Capitol to Main Streets across the state.
While the Chamber has foundational priorities, such as education, transportation, and quality of life, all of which are of the utmost importance and will not change anytime soon, I have three near-term priorities where we can focus over the next several months.
The first is gender wage disparity. We talk all the time about Utah’s top rankings, and it is amazing how many top spots Utah has from economic diversity to job growth. But we have one top ranking that is not good. A recent report put Utah as the #1 state for disparity in pay between men and women. This is a problem that needs to be fixed. The good news is we can fix it and the Chamber can lead.
To address the issue, the Chamber will partner with Pat Jones, CEO of the Women’s Leadership Institute, to identify those companies who are doing a great job in this area and compile best practices into a toolkit to share with organizations across the state. It is not just an economic imperative that we do so, it is the right thing to do.
The second involves engaging young professionals. Every Chamber member and organization has someone they can identify as an up-and-coming leader. We need their voices to find solutions to our community challenges. The way to do this is to get them engaged with us and each other. To accomplish this, we are asking each Chamber member to send us these young professionals so they can serve on a Chamber committee, task force or coalition.
Additionally, this group will gather at least quarterly to share experiences and network. We need these young professionals to get to know each other. They are the next generation of community and business leaders and we can help facilitate the connections.
The third relates to economic prosperity across the entire state. We live in a remarkable state at a remarkable time. The economic data is terrific, but not all the state is benefiting in the same way. To remedy this, Governor Herbert set the goal to create 25,000 jobs in 25 rural counties by the year 2020 with the 25K Jobs Initiative.
Last summer, Lt. Governor Spencer Cox and I led a “25K Jobs Tour” across the state. The purpose was to connect companies in rural Utah to business services that exist primarily along the Wasatch Front. During this effort, something occurred to me, that the number one challenge business along the Wasatch Front face is finding enough talented workers, and the number one challenge many communities off the Wasatch Front face is finding enough jobs.
The simple answer is identifying the jobs that don’t need to be located in the urban core and provide those opportunities to people throughout the state. The Salt Lake Chamber is in a perfect place to lead on this challenge; we have the business connections, and the relationships with the local area chambers to know the needs and available resources. Going forward we will be working with chambers across the state to make this happen.
My commitment to you is this: We will ensure your investment of time and resources into the Chamber will pay off as we build a business environment in Utah that puts our state at the top of the mountain for economic prosperity.
President and CEO
Salt Lake Chamber