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Jan. 12, 2012

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  Economic Review  
Editor's Message
Advanced Composites Team Awarded Governor's Medal for Science and Technology

Dear investors and friends of EDCUtah,

Since our beloved CEO Jeff Edwards is in St. George this week for the "What's Up Down South?" Economic Summit, and is therefore unavailable to defend himself, we thought this would be the perfect opportunity to highlight an honor he received on Tuesday from Governor Gary R. Herbert and State Science Advisor Dr. Tami Goetz at the Discovery Gateway Children's Museum.

Jeff was awarded the Governor's Medal for Science and Technology as part of the Composites Team recognition of Gary Harter, managing director, Governor's Office of Economic Development (GOED), and Steven Rodgers, principal, EmergenTek, LLC. The Composites Team championed the cluster strategy for the Utah composites industry. This effort has garnered international awareness of Utah's composites industry and brought thousands of high-value technology jobs to the state. Further, the combination of government (Gary Harter), industry (Steve Rodgers), and public/private partnership (Jeff Edwards) was absolutely critical in pulling off the best and largest example of community partnership and industry cluster economic development in Utah's technology history.

Gene Barton, central site manager and controller of Hexcel in West Valley City, credits Jeff and the Utah Advanced Composites Team with creating an atmosphere favorable to economic growth in Utah. "Through his leadership role in the Composites Industry Cluster, Jeff has worked both effectively and tirelessly to help Utah companies grow in terms of manufacturing capabilities, skilled workforce availability, material sourcing and customer markets. In developing synergies within the composites industry at home and elsewhere, he has directly been responsible for creation of good jobs in our community, now and in the future," Barton says.

JoAnn Matern, director of institutional development for Davis Applied Technology College, adds that Jeff has been pivotal in the development of the advanced composites industry in Utah. "He is a master at facilitating partnerships throughout the entire supply chain in the state. He continues to be an important mentor and advocate for the Davis Applied Technology College as it has developed into a premier Composites technical training facility," she says.

EDCUtah has seen record-breaking job growth under Jeff's direction. In Fiscal Year 2010 -- 2011, EDCUtah was successful in creating and retaining over 8,000 jobs in Utah, with almost $800 million in new capital investment and 3.1 million square feet of real estate absorbed. Over the last three years, more than 18,000 jobs have been created/retained.

Richard Walje, president and CEO of Rocky Mountain Power for Utah and chairman of the EDCUtah Board of Trustees, says Jeff's leadership in the advanced composites field is an example of the impact he has had as CEO and president of EDCUtah. "We have continued to see composite companies expand in and relocate to Utah because of the collaborative atmosphere Jeff has helped nurture here. The state reaps major rewards in all sectors of our Utah economy because of Jeff's efforts," Walje adds.

Congratulations to Jeff and all of the other recipients of the Governor's Medal for Science and Technology! Please see our Newslinks section for media coverage of the Governor's Medal for Science and Technology awards.

Today's Economic Review also includes links to many of the ED-related news stories from the past week. As always, if you have comments, suggestions or topics you'd like to see in the Economic Review, please contact us by clicking the "Comments" link on the bottom of this page. Enjoy!

Feature Story
Survey: Utah Employers Optimistic
about 2012 Economy, but Increased Hiring Still Questionable

Utah employers and their counterparts nationwide are slightly more optimistic about the 2012 economy than they were in 2011, but the optimism won't necessarily translate into more jobs. That's according to data just released by The Employers Council in its 2012 Economic Trends Survey.

Utah executives are more gung-ho about the economy than their peers nationally, with 93 percent of the Utah survey respondents expecting the 2012 economy to be about the same or better compared to 2011, and only seven percent feeling it will be worse verses 10 percent nationally who express pessimism. Further, among Utah executives, 70 percent expect the outlook for their own businesses to be more promising in 2012 with increases in sales and/or revenue.

"This is a boost from the 2011 Economic Trend Survey wherein only 64 percent projected increases," says Monica Whalen, president & CEO of The Employers Council, a Salt Lake City-based private, non-profit employer association with over 500 employer-members located throughout the Intermountain West.

Hiring Plans
Despite the optimism, Whalen says 2012 hiring plans among Utah employers are actually down from 2011 and even fall behind the nation. In fact, this year only 33 percent of Utah employers plan to increase staff levels, versus 45 percent in 2011, according to the survey. Whalen says this lags the national projection of 36 percent for 2012. Furthermore, 11 percent of Utah employers plan to reduce staff levels in 2012 compared to six percent nationally.

"This is an increase among Utah executives from the six percent that planned staff level reductions in 2011," she explains.

Whalen says the expectation by some Utah employers that they will not increase hiring is an indication that the businesses are running lean and that they are confident their employees can do more with less. It also may mean the full impact of the recession is hitting Utah a little later than it hit other parts of the country, necessitating some "right-sizing" a bit later than has already been done by other employers in other areas, she adds.

Barriers to Job Creation
The greatest barrier to job creation, according to the survey data from Utah respondents, is the concern about further economic decline (56 percent). The next two greatest response groups said the biggest barriers are excessive government regulations (18 percent) and limited consumer demand (16 percent).

The comprehensive survey included responses from 103 Utah business executives. Forty percent of the respondents were from the manufacturing industry; 62 percent of the respondents were from small businesses with less than 250 employees.

Twenty-nine percent of the Utah respondents said they expect the overall economy to be better in 2012 than it was in 2011; 65 percent said they expect 2012 to be about the same as 2011; seven percent said they expect 2012 to be worse. Comparatively, 15 percent of the respondents said they expect a significant increase in sales/revenue for 2012; 55 percent said they expect a slight increase; 22 percent predict flat sales/revenue; seven percent said they expect a slight decrease.

Cost-Cutting
Regarding plans to hire in 2012, 51 percent of Utah respondents said they had no plans to hire; 35 percent projected they would hire in the first quarter; 41 percent said the second quarter; 29 percent said the third quarter; 21 percent said the fourth quarter.

As for cost-cutting measures, 38 percent of the Utah respondents said they had no cost-cutting measures planned for 2012; 54 percent said they would continue or implement lean/process improvement initiatives; 23percent said they would shift a larger percentage of health care costs to employees; 10 percent said they planned permanent reductions in staff.

The survey was conducted by The Employer Associations of America (EAA), which surveyed 1890 companies: 45 percent were from manufacturing, 10 percent were from Professional and Business Services, six percent were from Health Services, and 39 percent from other industries. The survey also represents all sizes of companies, from 1-99 employees (53 percent), 100-249 employees (25 percent), 250-499 employees (12 percent), 500-999 employees (5 percent), and over 1,000 employees (5 percent). Survey data was collected in October through November of 2011.

Calendar

Jan. 19
Social Commerce Exchange -- "Blogging for Business" 6:30-8:30 p.m. (Salt Lake Community College - Miller Campus) Free event -- Come learn how to build a better business blog at January's Social Commerce Exchange. Join us as we explore blogging strategies and techniques that add value and build credibility for businesses.

Feb. 15
Utah Energy Development Summit (Salt Palace)

Feb. 21-24
Technology Venture Development Executive Education Seminar (University of Utah)

Apr. 26
Save the Date! Fourth Annual Milford Renewable Energy Fair (Milford High School)

Oct. 16-19
Technology Venture Development Executive Education Seminar (University of Utah)

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The EDCUtah Economic Review is a weekly publication of the Economic Development Corporation of Utah. It is distributed to EDCUtah partners and selected other government and civic organizations interested in Utah's economic development.

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In the News

Utah County No. 3 in job growth in nation
While economists say Utah's job growth is still slower than normal, Utah County managed to rise to No. 3 among the nation's largest counties for adding jobs from June 2010 to June 2011, according to federal data released Tuesday.
(Salt Lake Tribune)

Mayor says job creation is priority in West Valley City
With the economy still fragile, attracting businesses to fuel economic growth and create jobs in this west-side suburb will remain one of his highest priorities in 2012, West Valley City Mayor Mike Winder said Tuesday.
(Salt Lake Tribune) (Deseret News)

Mountain states' economic indicator ends 2011 strong
For the 26th straight month, the overall index for the Mountain States region, a leading economic indicator for the three-state area of Colorado, Utah and Wyoming, advanced above growth neutral 50.0.
(Journal Advocate)

The New Economy: Regions to watch in 2012
Newgeography.com says as "core tech companies expand, they are likely to head to business-friendly places such as Salt Lake City, Raleigh and Columbus, Ohio, which have picked up both tech companies and educated migrants from California."
(Newgeography)

Utah 10th in 'Top 10 States for Low Business Taxes and Regulations'
Utah ranks 10th in Urbanland's ranking of the top 10 states for low business taxes and regulations.
(Urbanland)

Forbes: Where the jobs will (and won't) be in 2012
Salt Lake City ranks 12th in Forbes' list of cities where jobs won't be in 2012.
(Forbes)

Salt Lake City and St. George ranked among 'America's Healthiest Metros'
St. George ranks 12th and Salt Lake City 13th in "America's Healthiest Metros."
(the Atlantic)

Governor Herbert Appoints [EDCUtah board member] V. Lowry Snow to Utah House
Utah Governor Gary R. Herbert before a St. George audience at the "What's Up Down South" Washington County Economic Summit signed the official letter to appoint V. Lowry Snow to Utah House District 74.
(KCSG Television) a> (Salt Lake Tribune)

EDCUtah CEO Jeff Edwards among leaders to receive Governor's medal
Governor Herbert gives special Recognition Award to Richard R. Nelson, Utah Technology Council, and the Utah Advanced Composites Team, which includes Gary Harter of GOED, Steve Rodgers of EmergenTek and EDCUtah President & CEO Jeff Edwards.
(Salt Lake Tribune)

Salt Lake City's business loan program lends record amount in 2011
Salt Lake City's Revolving Loan Fund just completed a blockbuster year, granting over $1.6 million in funding to local businesses in 2011.
(Utah Pulse) (Deseret News)

Utah Valley University establishes new business-support center
Utah Valley University this week is unveiling a new business incubator, described by officials as "a greenhouse where the seeds of economic activity are sown and nourished."
(Salt Lake Tribune) (Daily Universe) (Deseret News) (Daily Herald)

PC World ranks Salt Lake airport 8th best in U.S. for tech travelers
Salt Lake City International Airport is eighth best in the nation for tech travelers, according to a new PC World ranking.
(Salt Lake Tribune)

Utah gasoline prices are lowest in U.S.
Utah gasoline prices are the lowest in the country after dropping 22 cents, but the relief may be short lived with oil prices over $100 a barrel.
(Deseret News)

World Bank executive director to visit Utah Friday
The Utah business community will have the unique opportunity to host the Executive Director of the World Bank, Honorable Ian Solomon, on January 13, at 8:30 a.m. at the Salt Lake Chamber.
(Utah Pulse)

Utah winter ads debut in New York and Los Angeles
Travelers in New York and Los Angeles are viewing Utah's humorous snowflake commercials on local television stations as part of the Utah Office of Tourism's $1.2 million winter advertising campaign.
(Utah Pulse)

Station Park: on the move
All phases of construction activity are still going strong at Farmington's Station Park.
(Davis County Clipper)

HollyFrontier to expand Utah refinery
HollyFrontier Corp., the operator of a crude-oil refinery in Woods Cross, said it plans to invest $225 million over the next two years to increase production by 45 percent at the Utah facility.
(Salt Lake Tribune)

Amid struggles, Utah's Overstock.com lays off 50 workers
Utah's Overstock.com, the well-known online discount retailer, said it has cut 50 employees from its payroll, or about 3 percent of its workforce of nearly 1,500.
(Salt Lake Tribune)

Ann Taylor plans new store for Utah's City Creek Center
Ann Taylor will open a store in the soon-to-be-completed City Creek Center in downtown Salt Lake City.
(Salt Lake Tribune)