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Front Page » April 25, 2006 » Local News » County residents attend Sen. Bennetts conference, Part I
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County residents attend Sen. Bennetts conference, Part I

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And COREY BLUEMEL, Staff Writer

Senator Bob Bennett welcomes everyone to the fifth annual Rural Development Conference in Vernal.

Sen. Bennetts fifth rural conference was held in Vernal on Thursday. Several Emery County people attended including Commissioner Gary Kofford, Economic Development director and council members: Mike McCandless, Jo and Lou Sansevero, Delena Fish, Workforce Services director, Emery Telcom - Cynthia Nielson, Barbie Potter, Beth Butler, Jared Anderson, SBDC - Ethan Migliori, from Green River, Connie Copenhaver, Char Uptain, Emery County Progress, Delynn Fielding, Deb Dull from Utah Power and others.

Sen. Bennett began the rural conference five years ago and the conference has been held in Cedar City, St. George, Richfield, Price and this year in Vernal.

Sen. Bennett said he is proud of the way the conference has built over the years. They have fixed any soft spots and continued to improve upon the conference each year. Excitement continues to build each year for the conference. We had strong support in Richfield and sold out in Price and filled every motel room. The excitement has remained high for Vernal and the interest is not dropping. This conference is valuable. The break-out sessions continue to build and keep it going and people keep coming back.

Sen. Bennett spoke of wearing his political hat most of the time and how excited he is to put on his business hat for the rural conference. Entrepreneurs look to the future and create something that doesnt exist. In giving advice to a fellow senator running for office, Sen. Bennett encouraged him to talk about the future. People are always interested in whats going to happen in the future. Sen. Bennett quipped, How secure is your marriage? You should never run for office if you cant get at least two votes out of your own household.

In business you need to realize the importance of being willing and able to diversify. Sen. Bennett told of the beginnings of the digital watch industry when the first watches out were costly and you had to push a button for the time to display to save wear and tear on the batteries which were expensive. Market research predicted these watches would not be successful, but the future proved otherwise as consumers loved the watches and the sense of power they felt when calling up the time at their demand, Sometimes you just need to take a leap of faith.

Sen. Bennett said he was impressed with his tour of the Uintah Basin on Wednesday. He said the experts he was accompanied by were debating on whether or not the current boom in the energy field would last as the basin has experienced boom and bust cycles in the past. The secret is knowing which cycle will last the boom or the bust and plan accordingly. Businesses have to take on every day challenges. Death of a business comes from doing things just the way you always have without thought or consideration to change. Change is inevitable.

Sen. Bennett told the story of the founder of Montgomery Ward and his lack of vision regarding the circumstances after World War II, he had predicted the economy would move back into a depression; but the opposite was true with people in the mood for spending after four years of doing without during war time. This lack of vision eventually led to the demise of Montgomery Ward. The challenge is how to predict the future and how to shape the future and the plan may need to be reshaped at midway.

Sen. Bennett offered a word of advice from Peter Drucker, business guru. He said manage your time, keep track of your time, surround yourself with good people and starve your problems and feed your opportunities. Some businesses feel they must force resources on problems and dont feed opportunities. There are tremendous opportunities out there, find your niche, said the Senator.

The Senator said when he retires from the Senate he is planning to return to the business sector and is looking forward to that time when he can feed opportunities, starve problems and see Utah grow.

The Senator also spoke after lunch at the conference. He said that the concept of having a job is a big issue for people in the overall concept of poverty. He noted that from a study done by Pugh Research, a formula to guarantee a person does not fall into poverty was produced. That formula is: step one-graduate from high school; step two-dont have a child unless you are married; step three-get married and stay married; and step four-get a job.

Sen. Bennett stated that if a person follows those four steps they will not be poor. We need to teach this to our young people, said Sen. Bennett.

The Senator went on to say that health care costs are the number one challenge for industry today. He said that some years ago, the Congress controlled two-thirds of the federal budget. The remaining third was entitlements, such as social security, medicare and medicaid. Today those numbers are reversed with entitlements taking two-thirds of the federal budget. Unless something is done in the next 20 years, those entitlement programs will take the entire federal budget. That will mean that funding for programs like roads, forest service, BLM, and etc. will all have to be borrowed, said Sen. Bennett.

He added that private businesses and government are facing rising health care costs. In the Congress, they have tackled the social security issue and have not gotten very far. He noted that this issue is the easy one and no one is quite sure how to take the medicare and medicaid issues. The model plan is for each person to have their own health care plan.

When I was running Franklin, we had a program called flex-bucks. This was a set amount of money that each employee could spend on benefits as they wished. Some chose insurance, some chose child care and some chose to have that money put into a 401K plan. I am surprised at the amount of duplication in benefits and everyone does not need the same things. We need inventive solutions to the problems, stated Sen. Bennett.

Sen. Bennett stated that one state to watch is Massachusetts. He said that Governor Mitt Romney is experimenting with this approach, but the plan is being attacked and defended, both because it is new and entrepreneurial.

We need to keep our eye on how it is working, this may be the solution to some of the governments deficit problems, concluded Sen. Bennett.

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