Fox File #2 "Opportunity"
The Fox Files is a weekly message from EDCUtah President & CEO Theresa Foxley
I left the Governor’s 11th annual economic summit last Friday feeling energized, motivated, and contemplative. Energized by the positive messages delivered by Governor Gary Herbert and Val Hale on the state of our economic development efforts, motivated by Arthur Brooks’s call for us to live more entrepreneurial lives, and contemplative after hearing Natalie Gochnour’s “Tale of Two Utahs.”
I loved hearing Val’s metaphor, likening economic development to the work of his late mentor, the legendary BYU Football Coach LaVell Edwards. Val shared that each year, LaVell had a goal of getting the top in-state recruits to play football for BYU. Similarly, Val emphasized the importance of working with our existing businesses to help them grow and expand. This work often garners less attention than our efforts to recruit new companies to the State but is incredibly significant. Recently, EDCUtah enjoyed working with our partners in Salt Lake City to perform business expansion and retention surveys of over 800 local businesses. The insight we gathered has been tremendous. We look forward to working with other communities so we can be more successful in helping our existing businesses expand across the State.
Can we all agree that Arthur Brooks’s lunchtime keynote was terrific? If there’s one thing I took from his address, it is to say “yes” more. For a recovering attorney, taking risks isn’t always the most natural thing for me. But, as I apply that lesson to the business of economic development it is motivating. It means taking defined risks with the organization and being more experimental in what we do and how we do it. Of course, it also means “failing fast” and quickly correcting course. As EDCUtah enters its next fiscal year, we are going to reserve resources for “R and D.” As our members and teammates have new ideas, we will have resources to put towards “saying yes.”
And finally, I’ve never heard a Natalie Gochnour presentation that wasn’t incredibly insightful. This year’s “10 Utah Economist Covers” was no exception. Natalie’s cover on the “Tale of Two Utahs” reminded me that we still have a long way to go in many of our communities. As we contemplate what efforts and resources we can bring to bear to improve opportunity and prosperity in rural Utah, I want EDCUtah to play a role; I know it will be some of the most meaningful work we do. As we refine our public development department and the toolkit within it, we are eager to ensure it is beneficial to both our urban and our rural communities.
Kudos to Governor Herbert, the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, and all of the partners involved in the Economic Summit. I’m sure all attendees left more enthusiastic about the work ahead.