September 1, 2010

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Utah’s Own

Making the Difference for Homegrown Products

Janine S. Creager

September 1, 2010

Shop Utah. Buy Utah. Build Utah. This is the message of Utah’s Own, a program that nudges consumers to recognize—and purchase—products of Utah. Since its inception in 2002, Utah’s Own has been steadily growing in numbers and recognition.

“We’ve built the brand,” says Seth Winterton, deputy director of marketing and enhancement at the Utah Department of Agriculture and Foods. “And people recognize the brand. But what do you do past that? How do we expand to use that brand to help people to recognize the benefits of buying local?”

The work of putting the brand out there is well in place—but the real work has definitely just begun.

 

A Fresh Focus
To qualify as a member of Utah’s Own, a company must be based in Utah and have at least 51 percent of its value created in Utah, says Winterton. This includes companies that are owned here and/or manufacture and grow products here, but would not include those that are headquartered elsewhere and use Utah facilities merely for distribution or warehousing.

While food products have been the main focus of Utah’s Own, the present and future of the program encompasses much more. “We’re looking at different services,” says Winterton as he talks about what lies ahead for Utah’s Own. “Anything can now be a Utah product.”

Think outdoor equipment, service providers, pet food, nutraceutical companies and other manufacturers. At a recent networking opportunity, Winterton met Josh Sundberg, a young woodworker from the small town of Oakley. His specialty? Coffins and caskets built locally from Utah-grown trees. With the inclusion of non-food products, such as those sold by Proprius Casket & Coffin Company, the future expansion and growth of Utah’s Own seems certain.

Executives at the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) watched the growth of Utah’s Own and two years ago proposed an initiative to expand the Utah’s Own branding to include other industries and products manufactured in the Beehive State.

Outdoor products was the first industry (outside of food and agriculture) selected to join the Utah’s Own brand, due to the industry’s size and growth potential. GOED named Riley Cutler outdoor products and recreation cluster director. The cluster is part of Gov. Gary R. Herbert’s three-points of success for the state: economic development, energy and education.

Cutler initially approached bicycle parts companies to assess their interest in branding their parts and accessories as Utah’s Own products, and many of the companies were enthusiastic about the idea. He began working with Winterton, Richard Sparks and Jed Christenson, who run the Utah's Own program at the Utah Department of Agriculture, to lay the groundwork of expanding the Utah's Own brand beyond agriculture products.

Both Christenson and Winterton have been meeting with various officials at GOED for more than a year to find a way for Utah’s Own to expand and begin branding other products with manufacturing lines in the Beehive State.

This new direction also fits in well with Gov. Herbert’s vision for the future of the state’s economy.

 “Utah’s Own has become synonymous with the best of what the people of our great state have to offer, produce and manufacture,” says Herbert in a prepared statement. “For the past six years, Utah’s Own and its members have successfully branded an industry that has shown us the environmental, economic, political and physical benefits to producing, buying and shopping locally. As we look to expand the Utah’s Own brand beyond just agriculture and food, we are confident it carries a label with a strong tradition of quality and economic entrepreneurship as its foundation.”

The inclusion of the outdoor industry in Utah’s Own also ties in well with the Life Elevated motto of the state. In essence, you can both buy it here and use it here.

“Here at GOED, we deal with all kinds of goods produced in the state” adds Clark Caras, director of marketing for GOED. Because of the program’s great success within the food industry, other businesses are eager to put the Utah’s Own logo on their own products. “Utah’s Own has proven that people do want to have a loyalty to things that are produced and sold locally,” says Caras.

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