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Good moral and ethical leadership is providing a roadmap for the state’s future business growth, said Lane Beattie, president and CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber.
In 1989, Utah was losing 14,000 people a year because the jobs in the state weren’t at the level needed to support a family, he said. But with the investment of money from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Olympics-related attention, and improvements and commitment from the local business community, Beattie said Utah was attracting more than 85,000 people to the state every year before the recession.
Beattie was the keynote speaker at a luncheon held by the BYU Management Society, an organization focused on moral and ethical leadership, as well as relationship building and mentoring.
“We decided as a community we weren’t going to allow government to lead business, but business would lead government,” he said. With that mindset, Beattie said the community began addressing the two biggest roadblocks the state was facing: transportation and technology.
He said if I-15 were gridlocked in Davis County, economic development in Moab would stop. So they worked with the government to improve roads and add mass transit.
To address technology deficiencies, he said they focused on clusters where they would grow investment and opportunities, as well as encouraging higher education to create tech spinoffs. Beattie said this would not have been possible without businesses deciding they needed to lead.
In order to maintain Utah’s improved business-friendly environment, Beattie said the future lies in the state’s strong population growth and providing good education for that population. He said education needs improvement in three areas: increasing the percentage of children reading at grade level to 90 percent, supporting the Prosperity 2020 initiative and reaching the top 10 percent of investment in education.
In the meantime, he told attendees, “Just go back to work and hire one more person. We need it and the state needs it.”