SALT LAKE CITY — In 2003, Utah began the year with six consecutive months of negative annual job growth — year-over-year job losses from January through June.
Beginning in August 2003, however, the state went on a stretch of substantial employment growth that kept it ahead of the rest of the nation despite one of the worst recessions in American history.
Today, the Beehive State stands with unemployment at 5.2 percent compared with 7.5 percent for the U.S. overall.
Utilizing a strategy that included fiscal responsibility and long-range cultivation of six clusters of major emphasis — finance, aerospace and defense, outdoor products, information technology and software, life sciences, and energy and natural resources — Utah has been able to carve out a place of relative economic prosperity that has garnered respect nationwide.
On Thursday, the governor's office will host the annual Utah Economic Summit at the Grand America Hotel in downtown Salt Lake City. The event, which is expected to attract more than 1,300 business leaders from across the state, provides decision-makers from the business, government and academic communities the chance to learn more about strategic opportunities and challenges facing businesses in today's economic environment.
The theme for the event is "Utah: A 'Best Practice' State, the Foundation for Economic Prosperity."
“The theme reflects Utah's approach to building a dynamic economy by implementing best practices in a vibrant business community,” Gov. Gary Herbert said. “Our increasing national preeminence is a result of working to our strengths and maintaining an attitude of success.”
Best practices are methods or techniques that have consistently shown results superior to those achieved with other means, and that are used as benchmarks, explained Sophia DiCaro, deputy director of the Governor's Office of Economic Development.
“You want to know what models are in place by other entities that have proven to be successful and learn from those examples and build on them,” she said.“(Best practices) helps Utah be more competitive.”
The summit is scheduled to include an overview of the current economic situation in Utah. Industry experts will demonstrate to attendees how to improve their professional performance and bottom line, DiCaro said.
In other segments, key business leaders will discuss strategies as to why they selected Utah to relocate their headquarters and why Utah continues to be a top-rated state for business.
Individual presenters and panels of knowledgeable state and national experts of business innovation, law, entrepreneurship, economic development, global expansion, energy, real estate, political process and economics will conduct various specialized breakout sessions in multiple tracks throughout the day.
Among the featured speakers will be Larry Andreini, co-founder and chief innovation officer for RIDEMAKERZ — retailer of customizable toy cars; and John Tracy, chief technology officer for aircraft manufacturer Boeing. Herbert will be the keynote speaker.
“We hope people will see that Utah is a very supportive environment to do business and that (it) is conducive for growth,” DiCaro said.