Public Policy Priorities

A Letter from our President and Chair

Dear Fellow Utahns,

This legislative year marks the second session with the COVID-19 pandemic casting a shadow over our state. The top agenda item of fighting the pandemic has evolved into a theme reaching into a wide variety of issues instead of being the central one. Growth has returned to our economy, and unemployment remains low, with labor force participation on the rise.

Defeating the pandemic is an ongoing challenge, but we are making progress through vaccination, natural immunity and public health best practices. The battle against the coronavirus has also forced us to take stock of new priorities around mental health, workforce development and affordable housing as a key to talent recruitment.

While the federal response injected unprecedented capital into the system, the passage of the historic infrastructure bill will help us remake Utah’s transportation network of roads, bridges and EV stations. This will provide jobs to an already strained workforce pool and increase wages for middle class Utahns. Energy development and innovation across our state will also help us get ahead of the renewables curve.

Our capacity for innovation in energy, climate, technology and life sciences will continue to grow. Research and development in these areas will help strengthen our magnet for talent and keep the focus on maintaining our enviable business climate. This, in turn, will bring a more diverse workforce to our state and help breed inclusion into the fabric of business.

Continuing to maintain our outdoor beauty through investment and maintenance, connected to a growing network of innovation industries, and incorporating rural Utahns into the picture will strengthen our foundation.

Through our growing economy and Governor Cox’s focus on addressing healthcare costs, in total Utah is poised to develop a new economic geography for other states to model. This is only possible because we came together and worked our way through difficult times. We continue to express our gratitude for a legislature that is wise and works well with numerous stakeholders.

We are grateful to stand united for the good of our community with businesses, employees and volunteers who have shaped our emerging post-pandemic economic landscape.


Derek Miller
Derek MillerPresident and CEO, Salt Lake Chamber
Gary Porter
Gary PorterBoard Chair, Salt Lake Chamber

Business Climate & Economy

Utah’s economy has emerged strong from the uncertainty of the pandemic. Leading organizations have recognized this progress through their rankings. The Wall Street Journal, U.S. News & World Report and The Milken Institute have each shined a light on the progress Salt Lake and other cities have made in job creation, economic diversity and the performance of our cities, large and small. This is a tribute to our enviable business climate and decades of economic planning coming to fruition. 

Now is our opportunity to lay the groundwork for the next phase of growth in Utah. This means we must scale out the infrastructure and economic ecosystem for post-pandemic growth. A key component of this effort is the Wasatch Innovation Network, an organization working to connect and catalyze the ecosystem for the new innovation economies sprouting up across Utah. To achieve a prosperous future, expanding our innovation economy will be critical. Headwinds are present with the current shipping crisis affecting nearly all businesses and consumers. Housing shortages remain an issue with inventory well below demand level. These are challenges present with growth, but the Salt Lake Chamber’s focus will be to mitigate these challenges and remove roadblocks to continued prosperity. Ultimately, taking targeted action to support the next phase of growth and enhancing our business climate is a top priority. 

Legislative Priorities

  1. We support the evolution of the state’s incentives program to focus on durable industries in well-infrastructured environments or geographies in need. 
  2. We support policies that are geared towards smart growth strategies. 
  3. We champion legislative solutions that modernize the transportation of goods, solve e-commerce challenges and improve cargo flow across the state. 
  4. We advocate for policies and innovation programs that provide support for start-ups, tech commercialization and foster a relationship with businesses and academia. 

Diversity & Inclusion

Utah’s diversity landscape is growing with a panorama of people joining our communities and adding to the economic success we experience. Our minority communities contribute significantly to Utah’s culture, heritage, entrepreneurship, service and leadership. The Salt Lake Chamber seeks to embody the principles laid out in the Utah Compact on Racial Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. This roadmap enshrines bedrock concepts to move our community closer to a more equal shot at economic opportunity. 

The Chamber’s goal is to make diversity and inclusion both meaningful and impactful. These foundational pillars of the new economic reality must shape and guide our commitment to strengthening each one throughout the business community. The Kem C. Gardner Institute found that race, ethnicity and sex indicators for our state show major differences in education, health, housing and overall economic outcomes. 

Factoring in population growth with inmigration, Utah is on a path of continual demographic change with economic growth happening for all communities acknowledging that not all communities have equal economic opportunities. The Chamber is committed to understanding and addressing disparities in economic opportunity because it is the right thing to do, and it is necessary for our ability to grow together. Constructive conversations that lead to action will continue to make Utah more welcoming and attractive to the best talent. 

Utah Compact on Racial Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

  • Acknowledgment and action — We acknowledge that racism exists, and our actions make a difference. We call out racism wherever we see it and take purposeful steps to stop it.
  • Investment — We invest our time and resources to create greater opportunities for people of color. Eliminating racial and ethnic disparities requires significant effort and investment.
  • Public policies and listening — We advance solutions to racial inequality by listening and creating policies that provide equal opportunity and access to education, employment, housing and healthcare.
  • Engagement — We engage to affect change. Broader engagement, equitable representation, and deeper connection across social, cultural, and racial lines will uphold the principle — “nothing about us, without us.”
  • Movement, not a moment — Utahns unite behind a common goal to create equal opportunity. We affirm our commitment will not just be a passing moment, but a legacy movement of social, racial and economic justice.


Legislative Priorities 

  1. We support and advocate for policies and programs that increase supplier diversity and specifically assist women and multicultural communities. 
  2. We support policies that promote and inspire entrepreneurs and bolster the growth of minority-owned businesses. 
  3. We believe transportation is critical to workforce success and upward mobility, and we support the availability and expansion of multilingual drivers license testing throughout Utah. 
  4. We advocate for fair chance hiring and expanding talent pipeline management and workforce training programs to under-served communities. We champion policies that support the authorization of higher education institutions to accept foreign degrees and credentials to facilitate a strong and diverse talent pipeline. 
  5. We support policies that will continue to close the gender wage gap in Utah.  

Education & Workforce

The Salt Lake Chamber advocates for strong education and workforce programs by promoting rigorous educational standards and effective job training systems, all with a goal to preserve the strength of Utah’s greatest economic resource: its workforce. The new economic landscape is one where skill gaps are present and unemployment is extremely low. A current unemployment rate of 2.1%, among the lowest in the nation, brings its own inherent challenges. The need for an educated and skilled workforce to meet the demands of our growing economy is felt acutely by business leaders across the state. 

Utah’s current job growth rate exceeds the unemployment rate, with more available jobs than workers seeking employment. This misalignment is due, in part, to federal money, which constrained workforce participation, coupled with attrition and employees rotating out of industries to seek new opportunities with training and skills development. Therefore, the need for targeted reskilling or upskilling programs remains so that employees can return to the workforce. Utah’s business community has always recognized the importance of quality education to build a talented workforce and support a strong economy for our state’s future. The shifting of the labor market landscape from the pandemic provides an opportunity to retrain and cement our growth for the next decade. The focus on training and retaining the best people with the necessary skills to support innovation, competitiveness and growth remains a pivotal issue for the Salt Lake Chamber. 


Workforce Legislative Priorities  

  1. We support the rights of individual employers to determine the appropriate policies that allow them to maintain a safe workplace, including the ability to enforce masks and/or vaccinations. 
  2. We support policies that connect displaced workers with training and jobs and advocate for policies that enable employers to promote training and retraining to navigate the economic landscape, including incentivizing more effective and efficient partnerships between education and workforce systems. 
  3. We support statewide, industry-specific technical and vocational training investment to include employer-led earn and learn opportunities, including apprenticeships. Additionally, we support competency-based education, micro-credentialing and licensing efforts that promote economic opportunity. 
  4. We support the State’s Returnship Initiative and advocate for industry, government and education to come together and help individuals who want to re-engage in the economy find meaningful professional opportunities. 

Education Legislative Priorities

  1. We support education funding that addresses the appropriate levels to support students, educators and leaders. 
  2. We support a plan to expand optional full-day kindergarten to every student seeking access. We support access to high-quality early childhood programs designed to improve learning outcomes. 
  3. We advocate for improved educator compensation for Utah schools to attract and retain the most qualified talent. 
  4. We advocate for improved transparency to empower students, parents and policymakers to make informed decisions. 
  5. We support investments in making seismically unsound buildings earthquake-resilient to significantly limit the danger to tens of thousands of Utah children.

Energy & Environment

Utah’s natural beauty and environment are characteristics residents have sought to conserve for future generations. Maintaining a healthy environment with improved air quality remains a constant challenge the Salt Lake Chamber seeks to uphold. While utilizing the energy resources we have, conservation and preservation anchor a large portion of Utah’s GDP. Energy is a $10+ billion industry generating nearly half a billion dollars yearly in revenue for the state. It supports over 50,000 direct energy jobs and countless derivative ones. Reliable and low-cost energy are needed for a growing population that increasingly desires clean, safe and sustainable energy sources. 

The current energy environment is under growing constraints with pandemic labor shortages and a shift away from fossil fuels to innovative renewables. Utah has the ability to be a driving force in the race for energy efficiency, product innovation and decreased emissions. This sector will change our future with new technologies that can make everyone more energy conscious. Additionally, Utah’s growing production of geothermal energy is an often overlooked resource. As business and natural climates continue to change, improving usage, metering, regulations and investment in new technologies remain critical. The ongoing drought has heightened our awareness of the fragility of our natural resources and the role they play in our continued ability to grow. Therefore, support for electric car infrastructure, hybrid adoption and policies that help encourage renewables will be important.   

Energy Legislative Priorities 

  1. We support continued efforts to maintain a balanced and diverse energy portfolio that provides for increased and sustainable access for the production of Utah’s various domestic energy resources. 
  2. We support advancements in infrastructure and market access for Utah’s abundant energy and mineral resources. Additionally, we support the permitting, construction and maintenance of our electrical transmission and distribution system to facilitate the ongoing affordable and reliable generation and delivery of electricity to our citizens. 
  3. We support legislation and policy that encourages public and private investment in technologies of today and tomorrow that will position Utah as a leader in energy innovation. 
  4. We support legislation and policy that helps rural communities position themselves for success in a dynamic and ever-changing energy economy. 
  5. We support legislation and policy that helps Utah businesses and consumers meet their energy needs in economically, environmentally and socially sustainable ways.

Air Quality Legislative Priorities

  1. We support the investments in multimodal transportation options — including enhanced public transit and regionally significant “active transportation” bike paths for commuting — to give Utah residents and workers alternatives to driving. 
  2. We support a plan to reduce transportation emissions and help low-income drivers afford cleaner vehicles. 
  3. We support targeted building standards that are more energy-efficient and improve air quality. 

Water Legislative Priorities 

  1. We support educating the public on their secondary water use through metering and pricing based on usage. 
  2. We encourage increased state and local investments in water infrastructure modernization to include seismic improvements to drinking water supply pipelines. 
  3. We encourage policy solutions focused on water conservation that aligns with agricultural needs. 
  4. We support policies and programs that monitor and benefit the hydrology of terminal water systems in the region, including the Great Salt Lake and other critical bodies of water. 
  5. We support infrastructure that is climate-resilient and includes drought response strategies and pre-disaster mitigation and planning. 

Health Care

The coronavirus pandemic emphasized the importance of the development of new medical innovations and tested our capacity and resolve to maintain a quality healthcare system for everyone. In no other area has the needs and economics changed more than in the healthcare space. Access to innovative medicines and medical technologies and maintaining affordable quality of care through small and large employers is foundational to a strong and healthy business community. 

Empowering free market access and advancing innovations that save lives ensure a better quality of life and help in reducing healthcare costs. Pandemic-induced supply chain shortages are starting to impact treatments and the availability of key products, causing the cost of healthcare to continue to rise. 

A key priority will be to look at private sector solutions to our healthcare challenges so we can bend the healthcare cost curve and promote a value-based approach that expands access and improves the quality of care for all Utahns. 

Championing employer-led mental health access to smart tools like apps, web resources and other tools can reduce the associated stigma around mental wellness. This is an abiding goal. 

Increased access to healthcare professional training programs for the next generation of diverse professionals is another key point of Chamber focus. 

Legislative Priorities 

  1. We support programs and policies that lead to more value-based and quality-focused care. We advocate for free-market healthcare options that provide cost-effective options for businesses and individuals. 
  2. We support policies that drive growth and sustainability in medical innovation, including medical technologies, biopharmaceuticals and diagnostics. 
  3. We champion policies that advance health equity and eliminate disparities in services. We support adequate funding for Medicaid and adequate payment to providers for Medicaid and other government-funded programs that provide quality and much-needed healthcare to many of our citizens. 
  4. We support the rights of individual employers to determine the appropriate policies that allow them to maintain a safe workplace, including the choice to require masks and/or vaccinations.   


The housing shortage in Utah is leading to record price increases for both renters and homeowners. Our availability of affordable housing was exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic because of supply chain disruptions, increased cost of commodities and surging demand due to low interest rates. These facts are underlined by Utah’s growing demand for housing through population growth and inmigration. The collective result is an estimated 45,000 housing unit shortage for renters and prospective homebuyers. This severe imbalance has caused price increases to outpace positive wage growth. The housing gap has turned into a burgeoning crisis for many Utah families unable to find affordable options. 

Housing represents one of the key components to wealth generation and prosperity for families. The shortage of affordable units further widens the wealth gap between renters and potential first-time homeowners. The Salt Lake Chamber has fought this trend through its Housing GAP Coalition work on zoning and community growth planning. By coordinating infrastructure investments with the location of housing and job opportunities, residents can have choices that meet their housing and community preferences and give them greater access to opportunities. Further, coordinating housing with transit provides residents with more mobility options, reduces parking demand and reduces total household costs, leading to greater affordability. We know the current housing price spikes will require us to be as innovative as possible. The Chamber will continue to analyze and look at every opportunity to find ways to address affordable housing. 

Housing GAP Coalition

To address this threat to our economic prosperity, the Salt Lake Chamber organized the Housing GAP Coalition, a group of business, academic and local and state government leaders committed to solving the challenges associated with housing affordability and ensuring the American dream is kept alive for all Utahns. This is accomplished by providing access to a variety of housing types for all income groups.

Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute Study Findings

The Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute identified five best practices to meet the housing affordability challenge in Utah. Zoning changes, preservation, redevelopment agencies and tax increment financing, accessory dwelling units, and transit-oriented development were the key practices outlined. Taking a holistic multi-pronged approach will be necessary to change the landscape for our current and future housing needs. 

Legislative Priorities

  1. We support incentivizing housing near high-capacity transportation, jobs and other destinations, including transit-oriented, mixed-use developments that make smart use of land and allow residents to live in walkable, accessible communities. 
  2. We support learning initiatives and workforce development efforts to address the state’s ongoing construction and trades labor shortage. 
  3. We support legislative action to provide funding for deeply affordable housing. 
  4. We support the increased funding of community policing and public safety programs for any shelter-hosting city as part of a coordinated regional and statewide plan to minimize homelessness and increase public safety.


The Salt Lake Chamber was one of the driving forces behind the creation of the Utah Compact, which advocated for policies that increase racial equity and provide all of Utah’s residents with opportunities for success. Utah’s immigrant population, including DACA recipients, makes up nearly 17% of our total population. There is a sizable minority Hispanic population of 14% and a growing Polynesian community. These are people who believe in our country and want to contribute. They are raising families, playing sports, attending schools and building our economy through workforce participation. 

Utah is known as an entrepreneurial state and many members of these immigrant communities are skilled entrepreneurs. We should encourage more to start businesses, seek to employ others and share their voices in community decision-making. Utah has taken a sensible and principled approach to this challenge for over a decade. The Utah Compact was originally conceived in November of 2010 and reaffirmed in March 2019. The Compact points our focus to five principles we believe should not only guide Utah’s discussion but our national conversation. 

These guiding principles include: 

  • Federal Solutions: Immigration is a federal policy; 
  • Law Enforcement: Respect the rule of law and support law enforcement in doing their job; 
  • Family Cohesion: Strong families make up successful societies, support policies that strengthen their success; 
  • Economy: Free-market approaches often yield the best outcome and immigrants are key contributors to our workforce and we must be welcoming to those seeking opportunity; 
  • A Free Society: Immigrants are valuable partners in our communities and help enrich our nation and state. We should welcome people of goodwill. 


  1. We support policies and programs that seek to further the goals of The Utah Compact on Immigration. 
  2. We support smart immigration policy reforms so Utah and the United States can create economic growth, build jobs and encourage innovation and entrepreneurship. 

Infrastructure & Transportation

Transportation and infrastructure are fundamental to maintaining growth and economic mobility. The Salt Lake Chamber recognizes that Utah’s transportation needs are changing and expanding. Transport access from residences to destinations of employment or entertainment depends on a modern, multimodal transportation system. Our transportation approach must be one of strategic vision to ensure it not only meets today’s demands but tomorrow’s future needs. Targeted investment in this space will support improved planning and management of the transportation infrastructure. 

The complexity of new modes of product delivery with drones, internet-connected autonomous vehicles and semi-trucks using artificial intelligence to traverse freeways are becoming a reality. In addition, the growing adoption of electric vehicles presents a set of challenges with the sustainability of the gas tax as a long-term transportation funding source. These technological innovations will shape moving goods and people far into the future and raise new issues. This creates a complex framework to consider around land use, housing placement and growing population centers. As the crossroads of the world, our state plays a key role in the transport of goods from east to west, and we should protect this acclaimed status. Utah’s competitiveness depends on investment in repairing and upgrading our aging infrastructure, maintaining resiliency and prioritizing innovation as we address these challenges. 

Utah’s Unified Transportation Plan 

Utah’s Unified Transportation Plan is a model for the nation and is our guiding vision for transportation planning and investments. The plan comprehensively prioritizes investments needed now and for decades to come. 

Wasatch Choice Vision

On Utah’s Wasatch Front, key stakeholders — including the Salt Lake Chamber, Wasatch Front Regional Council, UDOT, UTA, cities and counties, and others — have collaborated to develop a vision for growth and development that will help to maintain and enhance the region’s economic competitiveness and quality of life. The Vision is based on four key strategies that help achieve regional and statewide goals. The key strategies are as follows: 

  • Provide Transportation Choices: Help us have real options in how we choose to get around and increase the number of easily reached destinations.
  • Support Housing Options: Support housing types and locations that we can both afford and work best for our lives.
  • Preserve Open Space: Preserve sufficient and easily accessible open lands that provide us with recreational opportunities.
  • Link Economic Development with Transportation and Housing Decisions: Create a synergy between these three key building blocks. Enable shorter and less expensive travel to afford us more time and money. Efficiently utilize infrastructure to save taxpayer dollars. Provide housing options and increase housing affordability. Improve the air we breathe by reducing auto emissions.

Legislative Priorities

  1. We support continued investment in our state’s multimodal transportation system that allows people and goods to move efficiently, safely and reliably across the state and provides quality of life, economic growth and environmental quality. We also support continued investment as a catalyst toward future opportunities related to a potential successful Olympic bid. 
  2. We support smart investments in Utah’s infrastructure as it is critical to staying competitive globally. We also support exploring alternative measures for funding Utah’s transportation infrastructure, including tolling, road-usage charge and public-private partnerships. 
  3. We support strategic and consistent policies that will contribute to increasing safety for all modes of transportation. 
  4. We support local governments’ intentional efforts to plan and zone for mixed-use, multifamily and missing middle housing in coordination with high-capacity transportation and transit service. We also support requiring local governments to consider long-range regional transportation plans as they develop their general plans and zoning decisions. 
  5. We support programs that provide innovation and look to the future of transportation and infrastructure modernization investments, including unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), automated vehicles (AVs) and urban air mobility (UAM). 
  6. We support the investment in a feasibility study for an Earthquake Early Warning System. 

Small Businesses

The economic landscape of Utah shifted dramatically during the pandemic as small business owners faced unprecedented challenges with safety concerns and customer traffic. As a state, small businesses make up nearly 90% of all businesses and include many women and minority entrepreneurs. The Salt Lake Chamber houses the Women’s Business Center of Utah and supports its mission to foster entrepreneurship and business creation. Additionally, the Chamber’s Utah Job Opportunities Fund provided 100 small, rural and/or minority businesses with grants to support operations during the pandemic. This program recognized the need to support these job creators during the unprecedented shock of the pandemic. 

The Salt Lake Chamber will prioritize supporting and creating programs that serve small businesses in communities. Development of the entrepreneur ecosystem through the Wasatch Innovation Network will remove obstacles and provide funding for small startup ventures. Utah cities rank high in entrepreneurship and job creation with a culture committed to taking risks to create wealth. The American Dream is alive and well in Utah, but especially through small business creation. 

Legislative Priorities 

  1. We support small business expansion and retention policies and incentives that enable small businesses along throughout Utah to hire, grow and prosper. 
  2. We advocate for resources that are necessary for small businesses to thrive in an economy recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  3. We support infrastructure policy and legislation that allows small businesses the opportunities to deliver goods in a timely and streamlined manner. 
  4. We support a thoughtful approach to the minimum wage based on economic data and market conditions. 

Taxes & Budget

The Utah tax system should be one focused on strengthening our economy through reduced taxes on businesses. High taxes can undermine our business climate and create barriers for job creators. For this reason, maintaining a consistent and stable tax structure for business is critical moving forward. 

The Salt Lake Chamber called for a moratorium on new business regulations last year due to the challenges of the pandemic. Regulations are a form of tax specifically targeting businesses and can undermine new venture creation. For this reason, reducing or streamlining business regulations so we have a stable regulatory environment is key to growing the economy. Taxes and regulations provide the revenue for state government budgets and sustaining fiscal responsibility must be our default approach to public services. Further, our tax structure and budgets should prioritize an equitable approach to those most in need and spread opportunity inclusion to the edges of our communities.   

Legislative Priorities 

  1. We advocate for equitable tax policies that facilitate the recruitment of targeted industries so as to promote business expansion and high-paying jobs that create a strong return on investment. 
  2. We encourage legislators to exercise fiscal responsibility by maintaining an appropriate reserve of capital and maximizing Utah’s AAA bond ratings.. 
  3. We support a strong interplay between federal and state dollars with an emphasis on independence from federal dollars. 
  4. We support the CARES Act PPP loan forgiven amount to be treated as tax-exempt income on the borrowers’ state tax returns. 

Technology & Cybersecurity

A new focus on technology and cybersecurity policy will be foundational to our continued growth and modernization of business operations, critical infrastructure and connected communities. The rise of a data-driven approach to economic growth needs to be led by innovation in policy responses to ensure it matches technology’s capability. The increase in cyber attacks on public and private institutions remains a serious threat to all aspects of our society. 

The encouragement of public-private partners working together is key to making sure we are aligned against these emerging threats. Laws that target identity theft, cyber intrusions, business intellectual property and ransomware attacks should carry heavy consequences. When most Utahns are not aware of the myriad ways in which cybercriminals can strike, our legal system must be robust in its prosecution of these crimes. We applaud the recent announcement from Governor Spencer J. Cox to form a Cybersecurity Task Force to protect Utah’s infrastructure. Business leaders must also show this type of visionary leadership in the private sector. 

Legislative Priorities 

  1. We support the advancement and connection of broadband to promote the work from home model.  
  2. We oppose regulatory barriers to 5G and other communications infrastructure. We support the advancement and development of 5G that aligns with security measures and innovation. 
  3. We encourage the development of policies that promote transportation technologies.  
  4. We support sound cybersecurity policies that promote commerce and trade yet protect critical infrastructure.


Legislative Priorities

  1. We support the advancement and connection of broadband to promote the work from home model. 
  2. We oppose regulatory barriers to 5G and other communications infrastructure. We support the advancement and development of 5G that aligns with security measures and innovation. 
  3. We encourage the development of policies that promote transportation technologies. 
  4. We support sound cybersecurity policies that promote commerce and trade yet protect critical infrastructure.