Fox File #91: SB 172 - A New Strategic Economic Development Plan for the State of Utah
As you may have read, the Utah legislature passed S.B. 172 during the 2019 regular legislative session. It requires, among other things, that the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) update the state’s strategic economic development plan. The legislation suggests some guiding principles, including workforce and industry alignment and intra-agency, non-profit, and local government collaboration.
GOED’s Val Hale and his team have been hard at work this summer as they take the charge to iterate and evolve very seriously. Val has created an overarching committee and about a dozen sub-committees to tackle various issues, including incentives, rural economic development, P3s, and local economic development. I was honored when Val asked me to be on the master committee and to lead the local economic development sub-committee.
I’ve had the chance to meet with various local economic developers (both city and county) throughout the state. I’ve talked to our education providers. I’ve talked to our transportation organizations, and I’ve talked to the Utah Association of Counties and the Utah League of Cities and Towns. It’s fair to say that everyone has come to the table with thoughtful and productive ideas!
With “collaboration” as our North Star, and tracking with what our EDCUtah stakeholders prioritized as a top 5 issue during our latest investor survey, the local economic development sub-committee I chair intends to recommend three goals to improve upon the existing system:
- Additional professional development opportunities for local economic developers: We have some of the best state and local economic developers in the country, and that’s evident by our success. However, we know other states offer more professional economic development opportunities and career tracks for individuals in the profession. We’d love to enhance some of the existing delivery models to invest in our current professionals and inspire a future generation of economic developers.
- Additional product and community development opportunities: drawing on the philosophy of the Mega Sites program, to find new ways for the state and local communities to collaborate on community development initiatives. Whether that be small industrial sites or Main Street beautification initiatives, or spec building programs. When we collaborate to build a product, it’s a natural fit for us to jointly market it.
- Ratification of philosophy on local incentives: It’s generally believed that local infrastructure is an incentive, and that public funds should ideally be preserved to develop public goods. Our committee would like this philosophy to be reflected in the state’s incentive program.
How do you react to these committee recommendations? We’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to call, email, or tweet at me with your thoughts on these three ideas and ways that you feel we might be able to measure and achieve the objectives set forth therein.