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Utah Valley Regional Roundtable
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Utah Valley Regional Roundtable
January 11, 2016
A special thanks to the moderator, Rona Rahlf, CEO of the Utah Valley Chamber, for moderating the discussion.
- LEE ADAMSON, Utah Valley Convention & Visitors Bureau
- JON ANDERSON, Anderson CRG
- STEVE CALDWELL, Utah Valley Home Builders
- JOHN CURTIS, Provo City
- RUSS FOTHERINGHAM, Economic Development Corporation of Utah
- BRANDON FUGAL, CBC Advisors
- JOHN GARFIELD, Provo Marriott
- DIXON HOLMES, Provo City Economic Development
- STAN LOCKHART, IM Flash Technologies
- JAMES MOYES, Redstone Advisors
- TERI NEWELL, Utah Department of Transportation
- JOHN PILMER, Pilmer PR & Marketing
- JOHN RICHARDS, Startup Ignition
- JEFF ROSSI, Cushman & Wakefield | Commerce
- Mary Scott, Fishbowl Inventory
- DANNY WHEELER, Utah Valley Convention Center
What are Utah County's greatest economic strengths and weaknesses?
HOLMES: The startups coming out of Utah Valley. And these aren't just one and two people operations (although those, of course, are very critical because one and two person operations tend to double and then continue to double). But those like Qualtrics, Vivint that make it very big and become unicorns, that's one of the strongest assets for Utah County.
ANDERSON: One of our main assets is the language-capable, highly-educated workforce.
CURTIS: With that language ability comes an incredible work ethic and a fearlessness that millennials have right now. It's really pretty inspiring. They wake up every morning convinced they're going to change the world. And they do.
ANDERSON: Part of that fearlessness comes from the missionary ethic, where we have a lot of returned missionaries who go and knock on doors. One of the hardest things you can do. And they become fearless.
ANDERSON: One of our strengths is the recreational opportunities. It's really unparalleled in many ways to have the mountains and the lakes and the rivers just 10 or 20 minutes away. It helps us attract and keep workers.
FUGAL: Our greatest strength is arguably our institutional base. We're a college town. BYU and UVU, which is now the largest institution in the state, gives Utah County a competitive edge. It helps spur job growth, job creation. Having a ready-made workforce to recruit from is a key advantage.
ROSSI: The transportation corridor, although it's going through some growing pains right now, is a great benefit. Compare it to San Francisco or New York or another big city, you can live anywhere along our Wasatch Front and be within a half an hour, 40 minutes.
FUGAL: Wouldn't you say it's one of our greatest challenges, though? You compare Utah County to Salt Lake County, I-215 and I-80, I-15, both fully built out. Light rail and commuter rail. And they've got Bangerter Highway. If I-15 gets shut down, we're screwed.
ROSSI: We are going through some growing pains. But as we look at it from an outside perspective, those people coming in, they look at it completely differently. You can live in Park City and be in Lehi in 45 minutes to an hour. You can have any sort of backyard or urban landscape.
As we went through the site selection process with Adobe, one of the main things we focused on was transportation. We spent a great deal of time understanding where their employees were living now because they loved the Utah County base that they had as Omniture. But as Adobe, they expected they would be bringing in new groups, they'd be bringing in people from San Francisco, they'd be relocating people internationally. So they had that concept of how do we give people an urban landscape, how do we give people that kind of life they want to live in the middle of a mountain landscape and still connect everyone and still have an eye to growth? Our transportation corridor shines from that perspective.
ADAMSON: We found with some of the larger convention groups that Frontrunner is actually very attractive to them. People can get from the airport to Provo. One thing that maybe we could improve is Sunday service in the future. Because a lot of the big convention groups will either arrive or depart on a Sunday. So that's been a little bit of a challenge.
ROSSI: One of our biggest challenges is our low unemployment. When you look at all of the growth we're projecting over the next several years with groups like Vivint Solar and Ancestry and all of these other companies that are growing very quickly, we need to support that growth. Where do we do that besides these great colleges that we have here in Utah and Salt Lake County?