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Oct. 27, 2011

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  Economic Review  
Jeff Edwards President's Message
Natalie Gochnour to be Honored; MD4 Summit Takes Place in Lehi

This Saturday Salt Lake Chamber Executive Vice President and Chief Economist Natalie Gochnour will recognized at the People of Vision Dinner at the Little America Hotel. Natalie has made major contributions to the State of Utah and is well deserving of this recognition. We extend our congratulations to her for her many accomplishments.

To learn about participating in the People of Vision Dinner go to http://www.friendsforsight.org/events/ .

On another subject, EDCUtah was pleased to be part of the MD4 Utah Summit that took place this week at Thanksgiving Point in Lehi. MD4 Utah was created to help catalyze, shape, coordinate and consolidate activities and programs that will help make Utah a major epicenter in the global life science sector. MD4's mission includes recognizing and fostering the disruptive innovation potential of Utah and its companies in the global life science marketplace. The summit focuses on promising technologies, buttressed by innovative business models, and the establishment of new value networks. It also seeks to champion the creation and adoption/utilization of enlightened legislation and regulatory practices.

MD4 also seeks to collaborate with leaders in Utah's education, business and government communities to highlight and encourage the growth of Utah's life science companies and innovation economy on the regional, national and global levels. For more information about MD4 Utah go to http://md4summit.org/index.php/mission.

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!

Jeff Edwards

Jeff Edwards
President and CEO

Feature Story
Customized Training Keeps Utah's Workforce Up to Speed with Business Needs, Aids Economic Growth

During fiscal year 2011 more than 16,000 employees from 1,173 Utah businesses received specialized workforce training through an increasingly popular program called "Custom Fit," which leverages state funds to encourage business expansion.

Such training has become an essential tool for Utah businesses to find and retain the talent they need to sustain their growth.

The Utah College of Applied Technology (UCAT) is the primary source of Custom Fit Training. It administers the program through eight UCAT campuses, Snow College and Utah State University Eastern formerly the College of Eastern Utah). Together, the 10 providers served 1,044 businesses during FY 2011, according to a UCAT report released this week. Salt Lake Community College (SLCC) also administers Custom Fit Training funds and reports that during FY 2011 it served 129 businesses with Custom Fit Training.

Investing in Workforce Development
Recognizing that workforce development is essential to maintain and grow Utah's economy, the state legislature created the visionary Custom Fit Training program 25 years ago. Today Custom Fit is a mainstay in helping Utah businesses remain relevant and competitive in the global marketplace. Further, because of the regional scope of the applied technology colleges and coverage by Snow College, USU Eastern and SLCC, businesses across the entire state have the opportunity to engage their workers in Custom Fit Training.

Melanie Hall, marketing manager for SLCC's School of Professional and Economic Development, and Shannon Strickland, manager of Custom Fit Training and Short Term Intensive Training at SLCC, call Custom Fit "Utah's best kept secret" because so many businesses are surprised when they learn that it is available. Truth be told, the secret is out. Custom Fit Training is so popular among Utah businesses there is never enough money in the program to meet the growing demand for training. In FY 2011 UCAT received a little more than $2.8 million in Custom Fit Training funds, which it divided among the eight applied technology colleges, Snow College and USU Eastern. The 10 schools then raised an additional $1.6 million in company contributions, for a total of $4.4 million expended on Custom Fit Training. (Salt Lake Community College also received Custom Fit Training funds, which it administered separately from the funds appropriated to UCAT.) Generally, a business seeking Custom Fit Training is expected to pay 40% to 50% of the cost, while the remainder is paid through the Custom Fit funds allocated to the schools.

Because of the increasing demand, UCAT President Robert Brems says he will petition the 2012 legislature to increase the amount of money it appropriates to the Custom Fit program. "The demand has been so high, many of our institutions have already committed their entire allotment of FY 2012 Custom Fit money and we are only about four months into the year," he explains. Demand is also skyrocketing for Custom Fit training through SLCC. Strickland says SLCC assisted 66 companies and over 800 students in the first quarter of this fiscal year.

Customized Training
Brems says the Custom Fit program is unique because the schools are able to customize the training they provide to meet the specific needs of the businesses they serve. Generally, the first step for the school is to complete a needs analysis, through which it identifies what training the business needs and how to coordinate the training effort.

"This is going to the employer and figuring out exactly what training the employer's workforce needs on a short term basis. Custom Fit is especially beneficial during the down economy, when funds are tight and training dollars might be allocated elsewhere by a business," he adds.

SLCC recently used Custom Fit Training to customize an existing electronics technician certification program in the School of Applied Technology to meet the workforce needs of L-3 Communications West. SLCC and L-3 are working together to create a "University of Manufacturing" that could one day turn into a standalone program offered by the school. SLCC has assisted many other Utah businesses with their workforce training needs as well.

Training in Action
In Ogden, Alanna Posell, trainer for Cornerstone Nutritional Labs, says Custom Fit training through the Ogden-Weber Applied Technology College enabled the company to broaden the type of training courses it is able to provide. "Using the Custom Fit program saves Cornerstone money, which allows us to provide more training to our employees," she says.

Meanwhile, the Dixie Applied Technology College in St. George was able to assist Blue Bunny Ice Cream with a Custom Fit program wherein 58 employees received a combined 1,063 hours of lean manufacturing training. Custom Fit funds paid for $28,759 of the training, while Blue Bunny paid $14,380.

In Tremonton, the Bridgerland Applied Technology College used Custom Fit funds to tailor the ATC's Fire and Rescue Services Program and train more than 40 Procter & Gamble employees in fire safety skills and incident command techniques. The employees received a combined 1,352 hours of training at a cost of $17,713. Procter & Gamble paid $6,640 for that training, while Custom Fit funds paid $11,073.

The requirements to qualify for Custom Fit Training are not stringent. Generally, the business must be a for-profit company and the workers to receive training must be employees of the company. Further, the business must be prepared to pay between 40%-50% of the training cost. The exact cost and requirements of the training program are usually negotiated between the school providing the training and the business.

EDCUtah President & CEO Jeff Edwards notes that Custom Fit training is not only important for keeping the state's workforce skills up to speed with the hiring needs of local businesses, but also for recruiting new businesses to the state. "Having higher education institutions that are nimble enough to quickly customize training for the needs of incoming businesses is a major factor in our business recruitment success," he explains.

Calendar

Nov. 1
CoreNet Global's Greater Salt Lake Chapter presents "Corporate Expansion in Utah," 4-6 p.m., Oracle 9350 South 150 East, Suite 600, Sandy. RSVP to saltlakecity@corenetglobal.org.

Nov. 1-3
Governor Gary R. Herbert leads trade mission to Canada

Nov. 8
4th Annual Women in International Business Conference, 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. (SLCC Miller Campus, Karen Gail Miller Conference Center, 9750 South 300 West, Sandy) $20. Lunch provided. RSVP REQUIRED.

Nov. 10
Community Dialogue on Social Enterprise 9-10:30 a.m. (Founders Room, Zions Bank, One South Main Street, Salt Lake City). Sponsored by The Community Foundation of Utah, Morgan Stanley Bank, N.A. and Zions Bank. RSVP here.

Nov. 11
Social Commerce Exchange,6-9 p.m. (SLCC Miller Free Enterprise Center, 9750 South 300 West). Email socialcommerceexchange@gmail.com for more details.

Nov. 16-17
Utah Renewable Energy Business Summit (Salt Palace Convention Center)

Dec. 14
Save the Date! EDCUtah Annual Holiday Open House (EDCUtah Office)

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The EDCUtah Economic Review is a weekly publication of the Economic Development Corporation of Utah. It is distributed to EDCUtah partners and selected other government and civic organizations interested in Utah's economic development.

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