Gov. Norm Bangerter has asked the state Department of Community and Economic Development to detail money spent during the past five years to court international trade.
"I think the record will show they've done a good job, but we can improve in that area," the governor said Monday during his first press conference after returning from a three-week overseas trade mission.Bangerter said that although he has been told the state gets as much as $4 in business for every $1 spent on economic development in foreign countries, some changes may need to be made.
"The best assessment I can give you is that we have to be a little more specific in our economic development efforts," he said. "We have to have targets."Much of Bangerter's time overseas was spent meeting area dignitaries, officials he said only a governor would likely have access to. So far, the trip has not resulted in any new business for the state.
"There could have been a better job done," the governor said, in scheduling him on the trip. Many meetings were not set up until the last minute, he said.
"If you're not careful, you can end up with a lot of nice meetings and no business," Bangerter said. "When we go, let's make sure we've got a purpose."
The assessment of what the state is doing to attract foreign business comes during the department's search for a director of the state's International Business Development Program.
J. Andrew Johnson resigned Sept. 14 to start his own international marketing consulting firm. Johnson was already in the Far East Monday on behalf of his Salt Lake-based company and could not be reached for comment.
But Bangerter said Johnson's resignation was unrelated to the concerns he has raised about how well his own trip to Europe, the Soviet Union and the Far East was planned.
"We were aware he was looking. I was not aware he was leaving on that short of notice," the governor said, describing Johnson's decision as "completely self-determined."
The governor also said that although the state must re-evaluate its position in the effort to land the 1998 Winter Games, he is confident the state will host the Olympics within the next 15 years.
"I think that's a safe commitment," Bangerter said, despite the naming of Atlanta as the site of the upcoming Summer Games and the fear that another U.S. city won't be awarded an Olympics for some time after that.