Spencer P. Eccles
Spearheading an Economic Recovery
January 17, 2012
A strong business background that includes experience with tech startups, venture capital, nonprofits and international companies made Spencer Peterson Eccles an obvious choice for the position of executive director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) when the position became open last year. His family name, deeply rooted in Utah history, may not have been a contributing factor for the job offer, but it was a reason for his acceptance.
“It’s an honor to be in the position of stewardship, and that’s how our family has taught each generation to look at it,” Eccles says. “It’s the way we were raised, so we try to give back. There are a lot of individuals and groups that give back, so we’re just glad to be a part of that community-minded spirit.”
Before he entered the business arena, Eccles was in the public eye first as an Alpine skier at the University of Utah and later as an international competitor in the sport. That background led him to be tapped to manage the development of the Snow Basin venue for the 2002 Winter Olympics.
After graduating from the U, Eccles went on to obtain an MBA from Brigham Young University’s Marriott School of Management. He formerly was affiliated with Wells Fargo Bank’s Wells Capital Management, and currently chairs the board of the Utah-based company COMPLETExRM (also known as PlanPlusOnline), and serves as a board member for Swarmbuilder, Inc. and d3o, a materials technology development firm headquartered in the United Kingdom. His business interests also include ranching operations and service on the boards of two restaurants and several nonprofits.
With all this experience, Eccles is well aware of the challenges of doing business these days, even as he works to meet GOED’s mandate to create and grow local companies, recruit out-of-state companies, and increase tourism and film production in Utah.
The most pressing issues for GOED, he says, are assessing what kinds of businesses the state should attract and retain, developing a strategy to accomplish that and helping existing Utah businesses navigate the current economy.
GOED’s staff was well-motivated and skilled when Eccles took charge, and “we were able to move forward with decisiveness despite a difficult economy,” he says.
The past year’s accomplishments were set upon the foundation built by his predecessors, he says. For example, GOED’s International Trade and Diplomacy Office assisted 420 Utah companies to do business internationally and trained 845 companies through 35 training and mentoring events. The Procurement Technical Assistance Centers worked with Utah clients to achieve record-breaking contract awards that resulted in $500 million and 10,000 jobs created or retained. In addition, the West Coast Business Marketing Initiative was launched to attract West Coast companies.
To meet GOED’s mandate, Eccles says the organization must strengthen its Business Cluster Strategy, focusing on the life sciences, software development and information technology, aerospace and aviation, defense and homeland security, financial services, energy and natural resources, and outdoor products industries.
Gov. Gary Herbert’s Optimization committee has developed a roadmap for continuing to streamline state government, Eccles says. “Utah is on the right path to continue leading the nation through the implementation of Gov. Herbert’s vision for economic development, education and energy.”