Salt Lake City—Representatives Bishop, Chaffetz, Love and Stewart joined 40 business leaders and Gov. Herbert at World Trade Center Utah (WTC Utah) Tuesday to discuss the importance of trade for Utah’s economy.
World Trade Center Utah and the Salt Lake Chamber hosted this event to give business owners the chance to share the opportunities and challenges they face as they grow globally.
“In Utah, international business is big business, and a critical element of the state’s robust economy,” said Derek B. Miller, president and CEO of World Trade Center Utah. “Yesterday’s meeting connected Utah’s economic drivers, its companies, with policy makers. This kind of collaboration is what makes the state’s economy one of the strongest in the nation.”
The business leaders in attendance represented both large and small businesses. One technology entrepreneur talked about how he relied on export resources at World Trade Center Utah and the U.S. Commercial Service when he was just getting his business started. He stressed the need to spread awareness of these services to all areas of the state.
Attendees voiced concerns about the anti-trade and anti-immigration rhetoric in Washington D.C. A representative from a Utah company stressed the importance of finding employees with the right skills either through training or recruitment internationally. A lack of skilled labor will reduce productivity and hinder economic growth. Another individual shared that his company exports almost 90 percent of product outside the U.S. and asked the congressional representatives to be aware of how other countries could respond to isolationist policies and trade barriers from the U.S.
The main sentiment shared at the event was a desire to continue to promote and grow Utah’s international business efforts. One company’s CEO asked the delegation to look for ways to propel the international economy forward, referencing ongoing efforts to research the viability of creating an inland port in Utah.
At the conclusion of the event, Miller expressed appreciation to the representatives for their engagement. He emphasized that Utah is fortunate to have House members who take time to listen to entrepreneurs, small business owners and community leaders and incorporate the messages into their policy decisions and lawmaking responsibilities in congress.
In 2016 Utah exported $12.1 billion worth of goods. More than 3,500 companies export from Utah. An estimated 85 percent of these companies are small to medium sized businesses. Exports generate tax revenue as well as create new jobs. About 22 percent of all jobs in Utah are supported by international business.