Look sharp, Utah business folks. Shine your shoes and make sure your hair's combed. You're under scrutiny.
Well, sort of. Nine writers from various national and international publications are visiting the state through Sunday, guests of The Economic Development Corporation of Utah, or EDC as everyone, including themselves, calls it."The goal of this first annual media tour is to impress our noted guests with the new Utah, the emerging business capital of the western United States," said Rick Thrasher, EDC president and chief executive.
"We are hoping to encourage them to go back and write wonderful things about the state," said Thrasher, admitting there is no guarantee they will. Although EDC is picking up the tab for the writers' trip to the state, the journalists have made no promises they will write anything, or that it will be positive if they do.
"You guys (reporters) tend to be a little on the independent side," quipped Thrasher. "So rather than try to contrive it, we said let's be subtle and respectful of their abilities and just present the best case we can. We go into this with faith that Utah has a story to be told, and our job is to present those stories."
The EDC was formed three years ago this month as a private/public partnership to provide "coordination and continuity" to the state's economic development efforts. It is funded by Salt Lake County, 13 municipalities and the private sector. Thrasher has run the organization since the beginning.
The nine writers arrived Wednesday night. Though there are several group events planned, each is pursuing a separate itinerary depending on his of her area of interest. Thrasher said it wouldn't work were it not for the efforts of 150 volunteers from the business community, city council, mayors, church leaders and various chambers of commerce.
"In order to maximize Utah's credibility, the EDC staff role in this has been limited to organization. Utah's got a great sales team of people who don't often get called to the front lines of economic development, and those are sometimes the most credible. We've got corporate vice presidents chauffeuring them around."
Although this is the first such media visit EDC has organized, Thrasher said he intends to make in an annual event. "We've seen tremendous community support," he said.
Gov. Norm Bangerter hosted a breakfast for the group Thursday, followed by a reception in the evening at EDC headquarters and a dinner hosted by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Friday morning, Utah Business Magazine hosted a breakfast, Delta Air Lines was scheduled for a reception Friday evening and Utah Power & Light will host a dinner Friday night. Key Bank of Utah and First Security Bank will hold a reception for the writers Saturday night.
The nine visiting writers are Arthur Blougouras of Income Opportunities; Patricia Colmant of Les Echo, described as the French equivalent of The Wall Street Journal; Brian Cook of Industry Week; Helen Gavaghan of New Scientist; Don Graf of North American International Business, World Trade and other periodicals;
Robert Lewis of National Relocation & Real Estate Magazine; Paul Maidment of The Economist; Dan McConville representing Chemical Week, Restaurant Business and Pit & Quarry; and Pat Woodward of Business America.