Ravell Call, Deseret News
View of Salt Lake City from KSL during 2002 Winter Games, Feb. 21, 2002.

Do you believe in miracles? The 1980 USA men’s hockey team does. So does the 2018 USA women’s hockey team, which won gold over archrival Canada. And so do millions of Utahns who share in the Olympic legacy.

Salt Lake City’s selection to host the 2002 Games was nothing short of a miracle, and like most miracles the result of hard work. Overcoming scandal and debt to host the most successful Winter Olympics was nothing short of a miracle, plus the leadership of Mitt Romney. Lifting the nation's spirits after 9/11 was nothing short of a miracle, and an outpouring of worldwide goodwill. Enjoying a legacy that lives on today is nothing short of a miracle, and the dedication of the Olympic Legacy Foundation and Utah Sports Commission.

Just as many were surprised in 2002 that Utah could successfully host the Olympics, many are surprised today that Utah has become the strongest and fastest growing economy in the nation. The 2002 Utah Olympic miracle has a direct connection to the 2018 Utah economic miracle because in a real way the Olympics introduced Utah to the world, and those connections have resulted in tremendous economic growth.

For example, Utah and South Korea are connected through the Olympics as well as being key trade partners. This relationship has been carefully cultivated through trade missions from Utah to South Korea in 2016 and 2017, with plans for another visit in the fall of 2018.

FiberFix is one of many Utah companies that attended the 2017 trade mission and has subsequently surpassed $100,000 in sales to South Korea. Merit Medical is another Utah company that does business worldwide and specifically in South Korea for over 25 years. And while you may not see those two companies while watching the Olympics, you are sure to see products from another Utah-headquartered company, Amer Sports, as its brands Salomon and Atomic slash down the slopes and across the ice.

Utahns speak more second languages than any other state. And beyond language capability, Utah engages in international business to the tune of $12 billion in exports annually. Utah doubled its exports over the past 10 years and was the only state to grow exports throughout the recession. The work of over 3,500 Utah companies engaged internationally makes Utah the sixth-fastest growing export economy in the nation.

Whether it is skiing in Park City or visiting our beautiful national and state parks, the world is coming to Utah. In addition to people visiting Utah, people are coming to stay, bring their business, find a job, raise a family and enjoy an unsurpassed quality of life. Relocation is one of the key reasons Utah is a top state for population growth.

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These new residents join the ranks of millions of Utahns who hope for the chance to host another Winter Games. Utah’s Olympic and Paralympic Exploratory Committee (OEC) has taken the first step by announcing that Utah is “ready, willing and able” to host another Winter Olympics. Utah has the experience, the venues, the transportation and logistics infrastructure, and nearly 90 percent public support.

The Winter Games elevated Utah onto the world stage in 2002, strengthening our international trade, business recruitment opportunities and tourism. Hosting the Olympics again will do more than enhance that legacy. It has the power to take Utah from the Crossroads of the West to the Crossroads of the World. Does Utah have a shot at capturing gold again in its bid for a future Winter Olympics? It may just take a miracle. In Utah, we believe in miracles.