This article is part of a series providing a glimpse into Utah’s political leaders’ daily work schedule and lives. View other articles in the series here.
Val Hale is the executive director of the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED). Hale was appointed to the position in 2014 by Gov. Gary R. Herbert.
In this role, he promotes statewide economic development in business, tourism and film. Hale receives expert opinion and advice from members of the GOED Board of Directors and serves as the government spokesperson for business-related issues in the state.
His distinguished career includes roles serving as president and CEO of the Utah Valley Chamber of Commerce, vice president for University Relations for Utah Valley University, and director of men’s athletics at Brigham Young University, to name a few.
Under the governor’s and his leadership, the state has experienced tremendous economic success. The list of economic development accolades Utah continues to garner is impressive. Forbes ranked Utah the #2 Best State for Business in 2018 (Utah is a Forbes favorite at No. 1 six out of the last nine years). Additionally, U.S. News & World Report ranked our state the nation’s No. 2 Best Economy (May 2019) and WalletHub ranked Utah as the No. 2 Best State to Start a Business (July 2018).
Since Hale took the role as executive director in 2014, companies receiving an Economic Development Tax Increment Financing (EDTIF) tax credit reported, and GOED validated 8,223 new full-time jobs.
Hale is honored to help guide the state’s economic development efforts and help all Utahns live “Life Elevated.” Here’s a glimpse into what a typical day for GOED’s executive director is like:
A Day In The Life
5:20 a.m. — My alarm wakes me, just like it does every morning. Usually, I walk for 30 minutes with my neighbor, but this morning we weren’t walking, so I pushed the snooze button and rested for another 10 minutes before getting up. Lucky me. I examined a wood project I had glued together the night before. Woodworking is my latest hobby, and I am working on an intarsia daisy. I was satisfied with the way it turned out, so I hit the shower and got ready for the day.
6:40 a.m. — After making a fruit smoothie and reading the Daily Herald newspaper, I start my 40-mile commute to Salt Lake City from Orem. Usually, I take the FrontRunner train and use the time to catch up on emails and prepare for the day. Today, I braved the freeway and made the uneventful commute. I listened to my Audible book “The Second Mountain,” and used my truck’s handsfree tech to call a friend of mine in New York City to wish her a great day.
7:40 a.m. — Arrived 20 minutes early to the Salt Lake Chamber’s Board of Governors meeting, thanks to the smooth commute. I sit on about 35 boards of directors, most of them statutory appointments, so I spend a lot of time in these types of meetings. I sat in my truck and took advantage of the “free” time to go through emails and check-in with Lynne, my executive assistant.
8 to 9 a.m. — I rode up in the elevator with the new Utah Valley University president, Astrid Tuminez. She’s an amazing lady, and I enjoyed a good conversation with her about UVU’s rising enrollment and her challenges working with faculty. She’s doing a remarkable job at Utah’s largest undergraduate university. My favorite part of the board meeting is Natalie Gochnour’s economic report, where she shares national and local economic trends. Several indicators are urging caution, but Utah continues to be among the nation’s leaders in job growth and low unemployment.
9 a.m. — Drove to the GOED office in the World Trade Center Utah building at City Creek.
9:30 to 10 a.m. — Had my weekly one-on-one meeting with Ginger Chinn, managing director of urban and rural business services. Ginger is an amazing employee, and I enjoy meeting with her because she is so organized and efficient. She gave me a report on the strategic economic development plan for rural Utah.
10 to 10:30 a.m. — Met with Pete Codella, director of marketing and communications. Pete just celebrated his first anniversary at GOED and has done a remarkable job. He shared some statistics with me about the dramatic increase in website traffic and social media engagement GOED has received. I have a public relations background, so I enjoy seeing all that Pete and his team are doing to get the word out about economic development in Utah and GOED’s great programs.
10:30 to 11 a.m. — A half-hour respite from meetings! Unfortunately, my mother-in-law passed away last week. I just found a sympathy card and envelope on my desk with a gift card from my team, for my wife and me. I plan on taking our kids to dinner at a nice restaurant. I work with extraordinary people. They are the BEST! Now, it’s back to answering emails and making phone calls.
11 to 11:30 a.m. — Met with a gentleman interested in working at GOED. He has an extensive background in information technology, and could probably write a book about the evolution of Silicon Slopes. He is at a stage in his career when he wants to do something that makes a difference. I meet people like this quite regularly. They see what’s happening at GOED, and want to join forces to help spread the word and be a catalyst for change.
11:30 to Noon — Another 1:1 meeting with Vicki Varela, managing director of tourism, film and global branding. Vicki is a rock star in the tourism industry, and, in my opinion, the best tourism director in the country. We discussed some challenges she’s having hiring employees in this economy. Some of her candidates are interested in working in her office but can get a lot more money in the private sector. This is a challenge throughout state government.
Noon to 1 p.m. — Today’s lunch hour ended up being a last-minute working lunch with our consultants from the Council for Regional Economic Competitiveness. They’re helping us with an updated vision statement for our new economic development strategic plan. GOED will present this plan to the legislature in October.
1:15 p.m. — Attended a kick-off meeting for the Manufacturing Pathways program, where I met with several representatives from manufacturing companies and the education community. Manufacturing plays a significant role in our economy, and everyone is experiencing challenges trying to hire enough workers. Today’s manufacturing jobs are centered on technology and lead to great careers.
2:30 p.m. — Drove to Trolley Square.
3 to 4 p.m. — Photo time! Nugent magazine selected me to feature on the cover of its fall 2019 issue. I am honored and humbled to be selected for this opportunity. They requested I dress casually, so I brought along a sweater. I figured that since it was a fall magazine, a sweater would be appropriate. The photographers were great, and the whole photo shoot only took a few minutes. I begged the photographers to use whatever technology the computers could come up with to make me look better.
4 to 5 p.m. — Met with a couple of entrepreneurs to discuss their business ideas, and find out how I might be of assistance. I was amazed at what they have been able to accomplish with cutting-edge technology. We discussed business philosophies and shared some great books.
5:15 to 6:30 p.m. — The commute home was slow, but not horrible. I’ve found that listening to audiobooks helps relieve traffic stress and teach me new things; it keeps my mind occupied while I drive. I arrive in Orem and stop to wash my truck and fill it up with gas.
6:30 to 10:30 p.m. — Home-sweet-home. After a quick bite to eat, my wife and I went for a two-mile walk around our neighborhood. It was a beautiful evening for a walk. As we neared home, I decided to make a picture frame for a picture we want to show at my mother-in-law’s viewing this weekend. I went to my garage and started cutting the mahogany board into pieces on the table saw. I was ready for a good night’s rest and watched the end of the local news before drifting off to sleep.