The gubernatorial campaign has been full of political rhetoric about economic development. Challengers to the governor have announced plan after plan, but they haven't looked at the facts. It's time now to set the record straight.
The truth is that Utah's economic development programs succeed. They succeed because of excellent state employees and a high level of planning and program development.During the past four years, Utahns have been affected by regional, national, and global economic factors beyond our control. Such factors as a space shuttle accident, international prices of oil, copper, steel, and agricultural commodities, and a 23.1 percent increase in the school age population through most of this decade actually determine a major portion of the economic fortunes of Utahns, despite what some politicians claim.
Demographics and international markets are complicated, but we are increasingly optimistic about Utah's economic ability to work with these factors. Some reasons for this are:
1. In August 1988, Utah unemployment reached 4.7 percent, the lowest rate since 1979.
2. Job growth has continued in each of the last three years, with a total of approximately 56,000 new jobs added to the economy since December 1984.
3. Utah ranks 17th among the states in venture capital, according to the Corporation for Enterprise Development's 1988 Report Card of the States. In the Mountain States Region, Utah ranks behind Colorado, but ahead of Arizona, New Mexico, Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana.
4. Utah is fourth in "technological resources" in the same report.
We in economic development have attacked those areas we can influence. No plan or organizational strategy existed when we entered state government. We wrote a strategic plan in 1985 and have implemented it, as shown by these few program highlights which represent many other successes:
- Federal procurement helped Utah businesses win 895 federal contracts totaling $82,380,000 in FY 86-FY 88. Those contracts affect 2,059 jobs. Since federal FY 87, Hill Air Force Base dollars remaining within the state increased 58 percent to $155,000,000.
- Deseret Certified Development Corporation, a private, non-profit corporation, privatized the Business Finance Office in 1987, saving the state $2,000,000. DCDC assists small businesses to obtain federal Small Business Administration funding. Loan volume in 1985 totaled $2,832,000; in 1987 it reached $7,160,000.
- The Centers of Excellence program accumulated matching funds of $141,000,000 by FY 88. Twelve new companies have been created, and one company relocated to Utah as a result of the program.
- Forty-three companies have moved to Utah since 1985, seven in the first quarter of FY 89. Urban Corporate Recruiting has brought 25 companies; Rural Corporate Recruiting brought 18 companies. Major companies include Pepcon (Cedar City), McDonnell Douglas (Salt Lake), Fidelity Investor Services (Salt Lake), SPS Technology (West Valley City), Grumman Aerospace (Ogden), Lucas Aerospace (Summit County), CPS (Carbon County), Crystal Peak Minerals (Milford), and Everex (St. George).
- International Marketing opened offices in Korea and Taiwan and expanded the office in Japan. International Marketing helped selected companies increase export sales $13,830,000 in FY 88 for a total of $37,180,000. In the same year, Japanese tourist days in Utah increased by 89 percent to 13,426.
- Business Liaison helped existing Utah business grow. Since its inception in 1986, it has helped retain or create 1,070 jobs generating a payroll of $14,450,000.
- Enterprise zones were established in economically depressed areas of the state. Ten enterprise zones have been established, offering incentives for new and expanding businesses.
- Since 1985, the Utah Film Commission has helped bring productions to Utah totaling $75,830,000. Annual production days have reached an all-time high of 637.
- The Utah Travel Council reports an increase of 1,139,942 visitors to National Park Service areas, Temple Square and Council Hall, for a state high of 11,106,219 in FY 1988. Tourist spending increased 5.6 percent over the previous year.
- The Office of Job Training provided training for 1,236 Utahns in FY 88 and helped 2,978 workers get jobs.
Utah's future promises much. Economic development programs have a track record of creativity and accomplishments of which we are proud. All Utahns have reason to have confidence in the Bangerter administration's economic development programs.
(David W. Adams is executive director for the Department of Community and Economic Development. David J. Grant is director of the Division of Business and Economic Development.)