Big goal drives Utah’s economic success

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Just last month, Gov. Herbert honored Utah’s private sector businesses for exceeding the goal he set to create 100,000 jobs in 1,000 days. As a matter of fact, we exceeded it by more than 10 percent.

This past weekend, the governor’s former chief of staff, Derek Miller, now serving as the president and CEO of the World Trade Center  Utah, penned an op-ed in the Deseret News explaining how setting such an ambitious goal was important to our ultimate success:

…Gov. Herbert convened a meeting of business and community leaders to discuss how to deal with swelling unemployment and stagnating job growth. That meeting was the genesis of what stands today as the governor’s vision statement that “Utah will lead the nation as the best performing economy and be recognized as a premier global business destination.” This statement is bold even in the best of times, but given skyrocketing unemployment and stagnating job growth, the statement could have reasonably been viewed as hallucinogenic. In fact, I remember one participant asking dubiously, “Can we really say Utah will be the best performing economy?!”

Ultimately, this group decided to recommend to the governor the aspirational goal to indeed be the “best” and began to set the strategy to make that vision a reality. A critical part of the plan was based on a simple concept that any business would follow in a contracting market — to grow our economy by growing our market share. For Utah that meant recruiting more business to the state. The Governor’s Office of Economic Development, in partnership with the Economic Development Corporation of Utah and local economic development professionals, began an aggressive and focused effort to convince companies that Utah was the right place for business expansion and relocation.

And along the way, we discovered an unanticipated consequence to the national economic downturn. Companies were focused like never before on the bottom line, and they were considering things they had never considered before — things like moving to a small state in the middle of the Rocky Mountains. For companies focused on productive employees, access to markets, cost of business and quality of life — companies like Boeing, Proctor & Gamble, Adobe, Goldman Sachs, Disney, etc. — Utah became (borrowing a line from Gov. Herbert) “an island of tranquility in a sea of economic chaos.” The foundation of this “island” is built on simple principles that every individual and family understands: Live within your means, don’t spend more than you have, low and stable taxes, and reasonable and predictable regulations.

And it wasn’t just new companies moving to Utah that helped our state add jobs during the recession. Many local Utah companies continued to grow and expand — companies like ATK, Overstock.com, Vivint, IMFlash, and Lifetime Products, just to name a few. Across the state, the entrepreneurial spirit continues to thrive and create new companies and new jobs each year.

You can read the full op-ed HERE.