|Kristen Cox, Utah State Executive Director of Workforce Services.|
Kristen Cox was born in Washington and raised in Utah. She began to slowly lose her sight during her childhood, and when attending Brigham Young University had to memorize everything because she did not yet know Braille.
In 2001, Pres. George W. Bush appointed her as Special Assistant to the Commissioner of Rehabilitation Services Administration for the United States. She is presently the Executive Director for the Utah State Department of Workforce Services.
Following the luncheon at the Castle Country Economic Summit, Cox addressed the attendees. "I am very impressed with those here to learn how to expand rural economic development. Economic development starts in the synergy of many people working together, not one person's thought," said Cox.
"Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. has made the economy his top priority. Utah has a great economy now. The darkside of economic development is the pressure put on other parts of the system, especially housing.
"Utah needs to get it's hands around the fact that Utah is experiencing a teacher shortage. We are short 400 teachers right now. The dynamics of the Wasatch Front are different than rural Utah, but the issues are the same.
"Energy is the driving economic tool in this area. Innovation and research will be the key to keep the economy going. We at the DWS are working to make this happen. Utah's rural communities need diversity in the event of a down turn.
"Do we have backfall plans for communities statewide which are facing labor shortages? We must find ways to meet the needs in the migrations patterns of the workforce. It is tough for rural areas, and we are formulating an aggressive advertising campaign to address this. Local business can advertise with us for more coverage. We must be ready to answer basic 101 things for those who wish to relocate to this area.
"The main thing to address in economic growth is education. Young people will very soon be competing globally for success in the marketplace. This area is poised for success due to the strong people, the college, and the entrepreneurial spirit here. We need to create an atmosphere where the entrepreneur can survive. We need to see that they get capital and mentors. They need to make money. With the right resources and investments, they can succeed," said Cox.
Cox went on to say that DWS is available to partner with communities for economic development and education. They are looking at new and innovative ways to deliver services to customers.
"The center here is one of the best in the state. At the Council of Councils, we will look more in depth at the needs of the people of Utah. We at DWS have a chance to change peoples lives with opportunities and education. This is the tipping point for the people of this state. We at DWS hope we can help," concluded Cox.