SALT LAKE CITY — Gov. Gary Herbert issued a major challenge Tuesday to a blue-ribbon panel on Monday — figure out a way to create 100,000 jobs in Utah in the next three years.

Speaking in the state Capitol board room at the first meeting of the Governor's Economic Development Coordinating Council, Herbert called on the 12-member panel to develop a plan that would empower the private sector to hire 100,000 Utahns in 1,000 days.

"This is an ambitious goal," Herbert said. "But I'm confident … that we can achieve that goal."

Herbert added that the state's economy is in dire need of an employment infusion and reaching the goal would put the state on firm economic footing.

Members of the GEDCC include Spencer Eccles, executive director of the Governor's Office of Economic Development; Mel Lavitt with the Board of Business and Economic Development; Dinesh Patel of USTAR's Governing Authority; Spencer Cox with the Rural Development Council; Will West, chairman of the Utah Capital Investment Corporation; Jeff Edwards, president and chief executive officer of the Economic Development Corporation of Utah; Scott Anderson, president and CEO of Zions Bank; Lew Cramer, president and CEO of the World Trade Center Utah; Randy Shumway, CEO of the Cicero Group; Rich Walje, president and CEO of Rocky Mountain Power; Pat Richards, formerly with Wells Fargo Bank; Rob Behunin of Utah State University; and Natalie Gochnour, chief economist for the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce.

Announced during Herbert's 2011 State of the State address, the council was created to ensure the collective efforts of government and the business community are focused on jobs.

Herbert said one of the key points to employment growth in Utah is to recognize that the private sector — operating in free markets — produces jobs, opportunity and prosperity for Utahns.

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Within government's limited role, the governor asked the council to promote public policies that would lead to private sector job growth and economic expansion.

The council's singular focus should be to create a plan that supports private sector efforts that would result in the accomplishment of the 100,000 jobs goal, he said.

"Based on projections … this is not something that we've just picked out of the sky," Herbert said. "This is something that is real, is needed and is a goal we can reach."

The council met for the first time Monday and will convene again in December.