December 6, 2013

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Resolutions for a Better Utah

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Resolutions for a Better Utah

Execs Provide their Top Priorities for Improving the Beehive State

By Utah business leaders

December 6, 2013

David Utrilla

CEO, U.S. Translation Company

We are competing in a global economy. In order to get the most benefit for trade missions from Utah that take place in other countries, we need to have the presence of the governor or lieutenant governor there. The power of that position allows more doors to be opened than in any other way. It draws more attention in the media, and sparks the interest of business leaders both from Utah and from the destination country.

The business environment here in Utah is excellent. It is also great to see that the unemployment rate is down; however, there is a growing concern that it is becoming more difficult to find available talent. It is important that we keep encouraging our students to work hard, graduate from college and become the best future employees that they can be.

Additionally, it would be great to see more advertised information that educates people in the community about buying products and services that are produced here in the state of Utah. As a business owner I understand well the advantages of this. The results from purchasing locally when possible benefit all of us directly and indirectly making a win/win situation for everybody.

Mike Cameron

CEO, Christopherson Business Travel

We have offices in Utah, Colorado and California. Our largest office is in Utah. The combination of lower taxes, lower business regulations, an excellent workforce and great quality of life all combine to make Utah a great state to do business in.

Gov. Herbert has continued the legacy of Utah’s business-friendly state CEOs. Our residents will continue to benefit from our positive employment environment if we maintain this job-friendly focus.

 One danger, as we continue to grow, is increased transportation congestion. This will impact the quality of life and our ability to do business easily. Utah benefited from a major refresh of our transportation infrastructure in preparation for the 2002 Olympics. We need to make sure that we stay ahead of the curve going forward. The freeway traffic congestion in Denver gives us a peek at what Salt Lake City could look like in 10 years if we don’t plan and invest properly.

We also need to stay on course with the Salt Lake City International Airport expansion plan. The airport in is the early stages of a 10-year master plan to construct a new terminal and two new concourses. The two concourses will be attached with an underground automated train. The plan is for the existing terminal and concourses to be demolished to leave room for additional expansion in the future. This expansion is necessary for us to remain competitive and meet the needs of our growing business community.

David Entwistle

CEO, University of Utah Hospital

I have two suggestions. Number one: Expand Medicaid. This has a significant positive impact on our economy as outlined by the PCG report submitted to the governor. Expanding will provide needed health insurance coverage to over 100,000 Utah citizens, providing thousands of jobs in Utah, which positively impacts tax revenue, and offsets what companies in the state are funding in healthcare costs because of cost-shifting.

 Number two: Fund K-12 and higher education. Our ability to compete in the technology, banking and energy sectors is fueled by an educated populace—software, healthcare, biotech, medical device, new technologies for fossil fuel industry, mitigating environmental impact all require students who have been trained. We should compete with Oregon who has Intel and Genentech plants in the state because California is too expensive—and those industries need an educated workforce. The education investment is not simply to build the workforce, but also attract companies (e.g. Goldman Sachs or UBS).

  The governor and the Legislature are tackling both of these issues and putting significant resources into evaluating the options to expand Medicaid and what is the best way to do this and has shown its commitment to education. I think we have made great progress but we must keep the momentum going to make decisions and continue support.

Harris H. Simmons

Chairman, President and CEO, Zions Bancorporation

Disproportionate to any other priority we should be focused on in order to ensure Utah’s long-term prosperity, educational achievement tops the list. Unfortunately—and alarmingly—it’s also an area where we’re falling behind many other states. Increasing both high school and college graduation rates and encouraging higher levels of attainment of post-graduate degrees will ensure an abundant supply of high paying jobs, and will pay added social dividends, including lower incarceration rates, lower unemployment costs and an increased ability to pay for education and other public needs. I hope that the legislature will continue to support Gov. Herbert’s goal of seeing that two-thirds of Utahns are completing some type of post-secondary education by the year 2020. We also need to raise the bar in our elementary schools, with the goal of ensuring that 90 percent of students are achieving proficiency in math and reading. There is much that government and our schools can do, but more fundamentally, parents could be doing much more in preparing their children to enter our public schools. We could do a far better job in providing parents with resources, suggestions and teaching aids to help them teach their children rudimentary reading and math skills before their first day of kindergarten. Parents also have a critical role to play in encouraging their kids to excel academically throughout their school years.

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