State officials are working on a new economic development strategy for the state as a result of a change in international economic conditions in the past several years.
David W. Adams, Utah Department of Community and Economic Development executive director, said he is trying to develop the strategy in time for a report to be released during Economic Development Week in May.A strategic economic development plan was completed in November 1985 and has been updated annually through some white papers. Adams said it is time, as Gov. Norm Bangerter begins his second term, to update the plan, especially because world economic conditions have changed.
In 1985, the state faced different economic conditions than it does today. For example, basic metals prices declined, which led to Kennecott Utah Copper closing; Geneva Steel couldn't sell its product and eventually closed; and oil prices dropped so dramatically that exploration in eastern Utah wasn't profitable.
The result was high unemployment and an out-migration of Utahns who sought employment elsewhere.
"Fortunately, because of our historic commitment to education, the strength of our aerospace and defense installations, the fortitude of key managers in copper and steel, and a strong commitment to new economic development programs by the executive and legislative branches, our state is now rebounding and leads all states in the Intermountain Region with the exception of Arizona and Nevada," Adams said.
He told the Utah Economic Development Board the 1985 plan is helping Utah companies get a bigger share of defense contracts, the Centers of Excellence program has raised $150 million in new research money and there are new efforts in international exports, tourism and corporate recruitment.
In what he stressed was a draft proposal, Adams is suggesting Bangerter serve as chairman of the group updating the economic development plan. He also is suggesting formation of 11 task forces made up of business and community leaders.