Utah Economic Development
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People. Youthful, energetic, enthusiastic, loyal, hard-working, educated people.
They are Utah’s greatest attribute when trying to attract companies to the state, according to panelists speaking at the Economic Development Corp. of Utah annual meeting Wednesday.
A few years ago, Thompson accompanied then-Gov. Mike Leavitt on a trade mission to California’s technology-rich Silicon Valley, hoping to lure high-paying jobs to Utah. Thompson says several company representatives approached him, only to quickly walk away. "As soon as they heard we had only one fiber-optic line, discussion quickly ended," he sighed.
MESA (Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement) acts as a "pipe-line" for technical education in Utah
MESA provides opportunities for role model exposure – tours of industries, talks with female and minority professionals, and campus visits that consist of more than just tours of brick buildings – that help students picture themselves as eventually completing the MESA/STEP pipeline and getting a math-based career or technical job.
Six years ago, a private company supported by Utah’s top business leaders tried to gain more control over the competitive, lucrative and often secret realm of luring new businesses to Utah. And when Huntsman took office, he named the company’s former director, Chris Roybal, as his chief economic adviser.
Around these clusters, Frey said, the state’s strategy is to synergize research universities, technology commercialization catalysts like the Centers of Excellence program, capital (via the "fund of funds") and industry with the state’s efforts to foster and recruit top talent and implement smart government reforms — tax simplification among them.
During the trip, set for July 11-15, Huntsman said he is also scheduled to meet with several other Mexican officials, including the secretary of the economy and the minister of travel and tourism, as well as the U.S. ambassador to Mexico.
"These are tough, complex issues today that confront our society that we didn’t think much about 15, 20 years ago. So we’re all in it together. We all want Utah to succeed and prosper, and we’re on the cusp of some excellent years ahead. Let’s make sure that we do it for all Utahns. That’s why we’re here today."
"They will be focused on supporting entrepreneurs, the idea being that it’s very confusing to entrepreneurs and young or new CEOs where to get the resources," Frey said. "They see a number of entities all over the state providing services, some offering certain services, some offering others. We’re going to try very hard to provide a very unified, simple presentation to entrepreneurs so that they have a much easier time accessing the resources they need to be successful."
Historically, the state has done its own recruiting. But Huntsman and Roybal fired most of the economic development leadership shortly after Huntsman took office, saying the state needed a more efficient, business model for economic development.
"About 10 or 15 years ago the message to the business community nationally was, ‘Come to Utah. We have cheap labor,’ " Roybal said. "I think the message is significantly different now. Our message is that we continue to have the youngest labor pool in the United States, and because of our high concentration of academic institutions here, they tend to be a little bit smarter and a little bit more educated."
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