| President's Message
An Outdoor Recreation Vision
The Outdoor Retailer Winter Market trade show is taking place in Salt Lake City this week. We welcome the news that Salt Lake City will remain the home of the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) Outdoor Retailer Summer and Winter Markets through at least 2016 and congratulate the many people involved in making that happen.
We also applaud Governor Gary Herbert and his Balanced Resource Council, as well as the OIA for collaborating with the council on the development and unveiling of the first-of-its-kind Outdoor Recreation Vision document for the State of Utah. It's a visionary move for a visionary state.
Developed with the input of key stakeholders, the Outdoor Recreation Vision outlines the benefits of outdoor recreation and the recreation economy to Utah, and sets forth guiding principles and a series of significant policy recommendations to enhance outdoor recreation and related industries for the people of Utah and our visitors.
Utah's Outdoor Recreation Vision includes:
- A vision statement and guiding principles that Utah embraces for outdoor recreation.
- More than 40 substantive recommendations under seven main areas of focus to improve the recreational experience in Utah.
- An outline of what makes Utah an exceptional place for outdoor recreation.
- A detailed list of facilities and programs currently in place to help residents and visitors fully enjoy what the state has to offer.
- A list of the many benefits -- quality of life, economic, and health -- associated with outdoor recreation.
As pointed out in the Vision document, outdoor recreation in Utah is a $5.8 billion industry that supports approximately 65,000 jobs. It is also a key factor in our economic development efforts. Further, as the Governor's office has noted, outdoor recreation contributes to our health and sense of community. While outdoor recreation in Utah presents many challenges and opportunities, the Outdoor Recreation Vision provides a solid foundation for working through the issues and promoting shared priorities. You can read the Utah Outdoor Recreation Vision document here. Please see our Newslinks section for links to media reports about the Vision document.
Today's Economic Review also includes links to many of the ED-related news stories from the past week. As always, if you have comments, suggestions or topics you'd like to see in the Economic Review, please contact us by clicking the "Comments" link on the bottom of this page. Enjoy!
President and CEO
Why St. George? Why not! 'What's Up Down South?' Economic Summit Welcomes Family Dollar, Showcases Economic Strength
Janet Wilson, divisional vice president of distribution for Family Dollar, says people often ask her, "Why St. George?" regarding the company's decision to build a highly automated, 850,000 square-foot distribution center in the Fort Pierce Industrial Park.
"When I walk out of the hotel, I look around and ask, 'Why not?'" says Wilson, who is from North Carolina. "Beyond the beauty of the area, what great people! We have been so warmly welcomed. It has been a truly great experience and we are really excited to become members of the St. George community."
Wilson offered her praise during the luncheon session of the "What's Up Down South?" Economic Summit in St. George on Wed., Jan. 16. This year's summit drew a near-capacity crowd of 900 attendees to the Dixie Center for a showcase of economic activity spanning from Cedar City, Utah to Mesquite, Nevada. And while the temperature outside the Dixie Center was uncommonly frosty by Dixie's standards, the environment inside was contagiously warm and enthusiastic.
"The upbeat attitude and overall enthusiasm is exactly why we started the summit 16 years ago," says Washington County Economic Development Director Scott Hirschi. "We developed the summit to showcase all of the great economic activities taking place in the region."
Robust Economic Climate
Clearly, the frost on the palm trees and pomegranate bushes is having little effect on the increasingly robust economic climate in the southwest corner of the state. Washington County has risen from the recession in a big way.
Wilson went on to say the Dollar Store distribution center will open with its first shift in July and may add a second shift by January 2014. In all, the distribution center may employ as many as 450 workers. The company also has retail stores in St. George, Washington, Hurricane, Cedar City, Kanab, Beaver and Mesquite, Nevada.
The current parade of economic activity in the region also includes the recently announced decision by roofing manufacturer GAF to locate a new $40 million manufacturing facility in Cedar City that will eventually employ approximately 50 people; the completion of a Freightliner of Utah Truck Center in Hurricane that will employ 15-20 people; Genpak's expansion in Cedar City, where it is investing approximately $22 million in a new plant and equipment and adding 125 new full-time employees over the next four years; the construction of a new Utah State Veterans Nursing Home in Ivins; the expansion of the St. George operations of Atlanta-based Allconnect, a home services company that plans to add 100 new associates this year; and the steady growth of CaptionCall, a telecommunications company that opened in St. George a year ago and has grown to more than 450 employees in that period.
EDCUtah President & CEO Jeff Edwards says the What's Up Down South? Economic Summit is a premier event that attracts civic, business, industry and government leaders from the Wasatch Front and throughout the southwest corner of the state and even Nevada. "It is certainly the showcase for the great economic assets of the region," he adds.
Hirschi notes that when the first What's Up Down South? Economic Summit was held in St. George in 1997, a capacity crowd of 175 attendees gathered on the Dixie College campus to learn about economic development activities in Washington County. "Now the summit is a regional event that is the largest gathering of its type in southern Utah," he says.
This year's summit featured addresses by notable government and business leaders such as Lieutenant Governor Greg Bell, Fraser Bullock, founder and managing director of Sorenson Capital, and Lecia Parks Langston, a regional economist for southern Utah from the Department of Workforce Services. The summit also included breakout sessions covering issues such as real estate trends in southern Utah, business management, accessing financing, advertising, the wildly popular "What's Up Down South?" session -- a rapid-fire session that showcases 13 five-minute presentations by businesses and organizations on the verge of major expansions, and the Dixie Metropolitan Planning Organization's Vision Dixie Report.
Speaking of the acclaimed What's Up Down South? session, Hirschi says the event is constrained to 13 presenters, "but because there is so much new activity in the area, we could have had 50 presenters if we had time to highlight all of them."
The evening before the summit, Edwards and a team from EDCUtah gathered with government, civic and business leaders in St. George for EDCUtah's annual Entrada event, a networking event EDCUtah hosts in conjunction with the What's Up Down South? Economic Summit. During the Entrada event, a representative from GAF made a presentation regarding the company's plans for its new manufacturing plant in Cedar City.
Education, Energy, Jobs
During his summit keynote address, Lieutenant Governor Bell said Governor Gary R. Herbert's administration is focused on education, energy, jobs and the ability for the state to solve its own problems. He noted an accolade given the state by the Wall Street Journal, which called Utah "the brightest star on the American Flag."
Bell went on to describe a variety of challenges and opportunities the state faces, especially regarding education and population growth. Regarding the latter, he said, "Utah is growing its own markets and that is a tremendous advantage." Regarding education, he said a post-high school education is not negotiable any longer. He emphasized that Utah colleges are having to remediate 65 percent of the incoming freshmen in math and said if Utah students are not reading at grade level when the leave third grade, or at grade level in math when they leave sixth grade, they will never catch up.
During Bullock's morning keynote address, he noted the strong economic base in southern Utah and suggested that the high-tech ecosystem in place in Utah County could be extended to Washington County. "Software is the hyper growth element of the economy. Why not in Washington County?" he queried. "Why not become a tech hub?"
Bullock cautioned, however, that while Utah is in a great place today, and there is an opportunity to accelerate that, the state's economy will decelerate unless the growth can be supported through changes in the state's educational system.
In relation to his suggestion that Washington County become a tech hub, this year's summit included a new event called the Business Showcase, which was established because "visitors and locals alike sometimes have no idea how many high tech products and services are created right here in southern Utah," according to Hirschi.
High-tech startups in the area are actually being supported through the Utah Science Technology and Research initiative (USTAR) and, as Jill Ellis, USTAR Southern Utah TOIP director, explains, "This year's summit was really related to technology in southern Utah. We are excited that USTAR has the opportunity to work with and help start technology-based companies in southern Utah."
In her morning address, Langston discussed the economic outlook for the region, noting that the recession is over and the area is enjoying manageable job growth. Focusing on Washington County, she said nonfarm jobs have bounced around between 5-6 percent since the beginning of 2012. That growth rate is near the long-term average for the county. "Right now, those numbers are right where we want them," she explained. Additionally, she said 70 percent of homes in the county are affordable to families with median incomes.
Utah Entrepreneur Challenge
Come see the Utah Entrepreneur Challenge, a chance for student entrepreneurs to compete for $40,000. Contact email@example.com to sign up as a judge or a mentor. Don't miss this chance to get up close and personal with Utah's future business leadership!
Jan. 1-31, 2013
Celebrate 75 years of the Alta Experience! (Alta Ski Area)
Utah Commercial Real Estate Symposium, 7 a.m. - 12 p.m. (Hilton Salt Lake City Center, 255 So. West Temple)
Feb. 4-5, 2013
Conference on Electric Roads & Vehicles (CERV) (Park City)
Feb. 6, 2013
USU Partners in Business 29th Annual Information Technology Conference (Eccles Conference Center, Utah State University)
Deadline for submission of executive summaries for the Utah Entrepreneur Challenge, where student entrepreneurs compete for $40,000.
Utah Entrepreneur Challenge Finalist Presentations, 9 a.m. - 2 p.m.
April 2-3, 2013
USU Partners in Business 5th Annual Leadership Conference (Eccles Conference Center, Utah State University)
5th Annual Milford Renewable Energy Fair (Milford High School)
MPO Summit helping medtech manufacturing (Grand America Hotel, Salt Lake City)
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In the News
Report: Utah experiences highest job growth rate since 2007
Utah employers added 35,800 jobs and experienced job growth of 2.9 percent in 2012, the state's highest rate since 2007, according to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Outdoor Retailer trade show elects to stay in Salt Lake City through 2016
After several months of deliberation, Utah's largest trade show will be staying put after all.
(Deseret News) (Salt Lake Tribune) (KSL)
'Recreation Vision' plan aims to keep Utah beautiful (ABC News)
Utah, a state often criticized for ignoring the benefits of recreating on and protecting its stunning landscapes, set a unique national precedent Wednesday by officially releasing "The State of Utah Outdoor Recreation Vision."
(Salt Lake Tribune) (Outdoor Industry Association) (The Vision document)
Utah economy now 2nd strongest in U.S.
The Utah economy is now the second strongest in the nation, and the news could be even better than that ranking indicates.
Business community rolls out 2013 legislative priorities
The Utah business community released its priorities for the upcoming General Legislative Session, presenting the 2013 Public Policy Guide to the speaker of the House of Representatives, Becky Lockhart.
With spotlight on winter gear, Demo Day draws retailers to Solitude
Nearly 60 outdoor-products companies displayed new winter recreational gear at Solitude Mountain Resort Tuesday for retailers at the All Mountain Demo Day, which signals the start of the annual Outdoor Retailer Winter Market, one of Utah's largest conventions.
(Salt Lake Tribune)
Taylorsville announces new business park
City leaders have announced the creation of a 95-acre business park along Bangerter Highway between 6200 South and 3200 West.
Visionary businessman awarded for contributions to Utah
Known as a consensus builder, A. Scott Anderson serves as a role model for vision and commitment to statewide change.
City Creek Center named top retail development of 2012
Salt Lake City's newest shopping mecca is receiving international acclaim. City Creek Center has been named Best Retail Development by the International Property Awards for 2012.
Utah's rising number of hunters, anglers generates big dollars
It wasn't many years ago that state and federal wildlife agencies thought they might need to find additional methods besides traditional hunting and fishing license sales and a federal excise tax to fund their programs.
(Salt Lake Tribune)
New film studio in the works
A new film studio project has been proposed in Summit County, with initial talks underway and notifications sent out to county officials. The company Masque Studios Utah hopes to construct a $100 million facility in the Boyer Tech Park located in Kimball Junction.
Study sees promise in convention center hotel
A joint venture between the private and public sectors is the best way to pay for a big hotel to lure groups to the Salt Palace Convention Center, according to a study presented Tuesday at separate Salt Lake County and Salt Lake City council meetings.
(Salt Lake Tribune)
Oil sands mine inching closer to reality in Uintah Basin
Environmental foes of what is poised to be the nation's first oil sands mining operation are already challenging a state-issued regulatory permit related to their fears over potential groundwater contamination.