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Utah's little secret: Inclusion a key to economic growth

Published: Monday, May 27 2013 1:40 p.m. MDT

As organizations and individuals connect throughout a region, they not only grow more quickly than other areas, but they actually avoid recession, Benner said. However, there are societal factors that can hinder this growth.

During the past 30 years, Benner said, people have been segregating into neighborhoods that reflect their income levels and voting patterns. In addition to this, media can be consumed on line in ways that allows for someone to solely consume information that matches their own opinion and interests. This has led to what he calls a "fragmented knowledge society."

"The world is getting complex enough and the world is getting diverse enough that we need to be coming up with solutions that will work in the long run," Benner said.

Pastor and Benner co-authored the book "Just Growth," the first wave of research looking into inclusion and prosperity in the United States. Their visit to Salt Lake is part of their second wave of research.

Creating and maintaining shared conversations between groups will be important to Salt Lake's continued economic growth, but it does not represent the full economic picture, Lowell Glenn, associate professor of finance and economics at Utah Valley University, said.

Factors such as the state's business-friendly environment and its current similarity across economic, religious and racial lines contribute to Utah's economic success as well, Glenn said.

While the minority population is growing in Salt Lake, the area is still "homogeneous and the result is you don't have that income disparity in the Salt Lake area," according to Glenn. He said he hopes the shared conversations and inclusion will continue as Utah becomes more diverse.

Email: wevans@deseretnews.com

Twitter: whitevs7

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