Growth from within, Part I
Senator Bennett's fourth annual rural business conference
|Gov. Jon Huntsman greets visitors to the rural business conference.|
A spirit of optimism filled the air at the College of Eastern Utah on Wednesday as Sen. Robert Bennett presented his fourth rural business conference in Price. Previous conferences have been held in Richfield, St. George and Cedar City. The conference in Price garnered the largest turn out yet for the event.
Gov. Jon Huntsman was the keynote speaker for the breakfast session. Gov. Huntsman began his talk by praising Sen. Bennett and the work he has done for Utah in the United States Senate. He told the story of a former college student who down the road had become a successful businessman. All of the classmates wanted to know his secret for success, since in college he hadn't attended his classes and didn't do well in school. He told them he made gaskets for cars, he manufactured them for 2 cents each and then sold them for 5 cents each. 'It's amazing how far you can get with a 3 percent profit margin,' he told them.
Gov. Huntsman said he was glad to be in office and he had surrounded himself with good people like Lt. Gov. Gary Herbert, Gayle McKeachnie and Lynn Stevens. All can do people. "I believe in term limits, I want to get right in there do what's right and step out."
Gov. Huntsman said 1937 was the year CEU was founded and also the year his dad was born. Since that time the marketplace has changed from the very definable Main Street to a global marketplace where rural business can be as global as it wants to be; it is up to brain power and entrepreneurship.
"Governments don't create jobs, what we do is create an environment for performance for the private sector and let the private sector determine the winners and losers in a competitive and vibrant environment," said Gov. Huntsman.
"Economic development is based on risk. You find a loan for your ideas. It depends on attitude. There is no entrepreneur with a defeatist attitude," said the governor.
He praised the Price Airport where he had landed that morning. He spoke of the economic advantages the region could gain by being readily accessible by air.
He wants to be able to make decisions in the executive branch of state government with lightning speed and get things done while being environmentally friendly. Utah has a bright future. Gov. Huntsman spent time talking to the governor of Colorado, who thinks the future of energy lies in Utah. The west is a very competitive neighborhood and Utah needs to be at the top of its game and think and plan ahead for the next 20 years.
Gov. Huntsman thinks a fine tuning in dealing with government regulations, taxes and access to capital is important for the economic development strategy for the future. Choose industries that can be competitive. "You can't be everything to everyone, each region has something it is famous for," said Gov. Huntsman.
The governor outlined areas where he feels Utah will be competitive in the future. In medical and health sciences. It used to be the most expensive thing for hospitals was getting the laundry done and now it's insurance and expenses related to it. "As a state we have to tackle innovative and better health care," said the governor. He sees a future in the production of medical devices and pharmaceuticals. He sees these industries expanding into Rural Utah. He spoke of a dairy farmer in Ephraim who can't afford health care for his employees. Gov. Huntsman is worried about the people in Utah without health care, "When people can't afford health care, people wait and then they show up in the emergency room which is the most expensive type of care. We need to do better."
|Jo Sansevero, Ferron city council member speaks with Sen. Robert Bennett.|
"Utah is an information technology and software haven. There is a real zeal in Utah. Exciting developments in technology await. Entrepreneurs are willing to take risk and deploy ideas. It is an exciting time," said the governor. He also mentioned venture capitalists in the Bay Area of California who think Utah is where the action is going to be and they are glad to invest in Utah.
Hill Air Force base also offers a strong background in space and aeronautics which will continue to build. A Colorado company is moving to Ogden and will build two lines of aircrafts near the Hinckley Airport.
Homeland Security will continue to grow and companies in this state are right on course to be involved in the latest technology in security products.
Name brand agriculture and niche marketing is opening up. Producers are looking abroad for places to market their products. The Utah brand will become well known in the niche market.
The governor said he had visited with Gale Norton, the secretary of the interior recently and voiced his concerns that Utah is a state blessed with natural resources that we can't take advantage of. While being environmental friendly the state also needs to remain competitive. The Vernal office of the BLM has 150 applications pending for gas exploration. Relationships with the federal government must be cultivated and maintained if these resources are to be used wisely and if public lands are to be managed for multiple use.
Tourism will receive an unprecedented push and the marketing of Utah will receive $18 million for promotion of the state. "The people and land of Utah are second to none," said Gov. Huntsman. He asked for input in distributing these tourism dollars to do the most good. Utah receives 17-18 million visitors per year and the governor would like to increase that by 5 million visitors per year.
In the governor's office he vowed to leave bureaucracy behind and make time matter. He has developed an energy office to address energy concerns in the state. He is working hard with all offices in state government and having them report directly to the governor's office. He stressed the importance of looking at and developing our own raw materials to help alleviate problems with OPEC which the country is experiencing now.
On June 22, the governor is hosting an economic development conference where businesses will be invited to share their needs. The governor will listen and see what a business needs to survive in Utah. He doesn't want to read about a business leaving Utah in the newspaper. If regulatory reform is needed he's ready to tackle that and help businesses to remain in Utah. "Let's define barriers and take them out," said the governor.
The governor plans on undertaking a tax reform effort. He said the last time anyone looked at taxes in Utah was before he was born in 1960. They will begin by taking a look at corporate taxes and will question all previous assumptions. By the end of 2005 he wants to have some solutions to put before the legislature.
Utah is growing at twice the national average and the governor said they want to preserve the environment for entrepreneurship. "It is a privilege to be your governor and I will work tirelessly for more effective ways to pay the bills," said Gov. Huntsman.