Following the Salt Lake City Olympic Winter Games glow in 2002, Gov. Olene Walker considered ideas to increase international opportunities for Utah business, including a group dedicated to promoting Utah products and industry to a global audience. However, it wasn’t until 2006 that the World Trade Center Utah (WTC Utah) came to fruition, with a panel appointed by then-Gov. Jon Huntsman. Lew Cramer was hired as its first director.
As in many other cases, the Chamber was the incubator for the nascent organization. “It was clear that without Lane Beattie, there would not have been a WTC Utah. Lane most graciously welcomed me to begin WTC Utah at the Chamber, providing space, ideas, introductions and the warmest possible reception to our small startup,” Cramer said.
Within two years, Cramer was looking for new digs. “Gov. Huntsman always wanted a singular WTC Utah building to be a dramatic symbol of Utah’s international prowess.”
While leaders initially eyed a 20-story office building planned for the City Creek development, the idea got scrapped because of the 2008 recession. Instead, they floated the idea of renaming the Eagle Gate Tower at 60 East South Temple the “World Trade Center at City Creek.” A remodel and renaming of that very building in 2012 made WTC Utah a fixture on the Salt Lake skyline.
In July 2014, Derek B. Miller accepted the position of president and CEO of WTC Utah. He used the strong foundation and brand created, by Cramer, to take the organization to the next level.
Under Miller’s leadership, WTC Utah implemented a rural outreach program to ensure all areas of the state have access to its exporting resources and started a quarterly Thought Leader Symposium Series.
Miller also rallied executives from some of Utah’s top exporting companies to participate on a newly established WTC Utah board.
The economic mission of WTC Utah is to help Utah companies “think, act and succeed globally.” It accomplishes this mission through educational seminars, export consultations and valuable networking opportunities. It is also a co-producer of the Utah Global Forum, Utah’s premier international business event that is attended by more than 450 people annually.
WTC Utah has an enviable record. Broadly stated, Utah’s international exports doubled between 2006 and 2015. Even during the recession, Utah was the only state in the nation to expand its exports every year. Coming from a landlocked state, that’s surprising growth.
“Approximately 22 percent of jobs in the state are supported by international business, which shows exports matter to Utah’s economy,” said Miller. “All of the work we do at World Trade Center Utah is directed at one goal: to help guide Utah companies into profitable global markets.”