Coordinating Utah’s economic growth
March 29, 2011
As states struggle to emerge from the recession, the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) is working hard to attract companies to Utah’s business-friendly environment.
To better coordinate that effort, Sen. Scott Jenkins, R-Plain City, sponsored Senate Bill 312 to create the GOED Coordinating Council.
"This is something the governor wanted," Jenkins said in an interview. "It helps them get together and discuss what options and opportunities are there."
According to the bill passed by the Utah Legislature earlier this month, the newly-created council will "plan, coordinate, and recommend strategies, goals, and activities related to economic growth and development in the state."
It will also advise on policies and objectives related to economic development and growth in the state. This will "avoid duplication and increase the availability of venture and seed capital for research and development and growth of new and existing businesses."
GOED has always focused on creating key "clusters" to grow the economy. This means attracting a critical mass of a certain type of business in order to make Utah a "hub" for that industry.
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For example, Ogden in recent years has been successful in attracting outdoor-recreation equipment manufacturers.
One of the purposes of the new coordinating council is to better invest resources in selecting industries and geographical areas to create clusters.
Lastly, the new council will coordinate "ideas and strategies to increase national and international business activities for both urban and rural areas of the state."
Utah has already been performing well in this area. Governor Gary Herbert recently bragged Utah was the only state to increase its exports business in 2010. It has enjoyed a 71 percent increase over the past four years; Utah leads the nation in growth of export business.
GOED currently performs all the activities designated to the council, Jenkins said, but it is subdivided into departments that could better work together.
"Right now they are all there in their silos and don’t consider each other," he said.
Gary Harter, GOED’s managing director for business creation, said the council will be made up of representatives from GOED, the World Trade Center, USTAR, the Utah Capital Investment Corporation, the Economic Development Corporation of Utah, the Governor’s Rural Partnership Board. For at-large members will also be appointed by the governor.
Harter said much of Utah’s success in economic development can be attributed to the partnerships between sectors. This council will make that communication more efficient, he explained.
"We get everyone at the table talking about the issues and moving forward," he said. "It gets to the top levels of everything we do."
The first meeting of the council will likely occur within the next 90 days, he said.