The 32nd annual Utah Rural Summit for government, industry and higher education leaders took place Sept. 3 and 4 at Southern Utah University. Each year, stakeholders and professionals gather to discuss ways to encourage and enhance economic growth. The Summit included participation from all corners of the state, including Gov. Herbert who attended for the 29th year.

The first day included a recording of Cox and Friends, the podcast by Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, as well as a half-dozen main stage speakers and a dozen breakout sessions, on a variety of topics from fostering increased diversity to how economic development incentives are organized in the state and its 29 counties.

GOED’s Executive Director, Val Hale, participated in a panel discussion on the “Power of Partnership — How a Community Wins!” Attendees enjoyed the hospitality of SUU’s Hunter Conference Center and an outdoor lunchtime live band performance.

During the Summit’s second day, Gov. Herbert led a panel discussion on innovation through entrepreneurship and partnership. Southern Utah University president, Scott L. Wyatt, talked about utilizing online education to provide opportunities for students who work full-time and live far from campus. He also touted an innovative three-year bachelor’s degree program that launched this fall.

Also, Cedar City Mayor, Maile Wilson-Edwards, addressed the audience and discussed partnerships and the opportunities they create, even for smaller communities like Cedar City, with a university, world-class outdoor recreation and Tony Award-winning Shakespeare Festival.

Ten sets of student and community member entrepreneurs presented their ideas in the first Southern Utah SpeedPitch, where a panel of seven judges identified two winners each, and the audience selected its top choice. Entrepreneurs walked away with cash prizes, accounting and legal help and the opportunity to participate more in additional SUU Entrepreneur Leadership Council opportunities. Gov. Herbert awarded a Governor’s Choice Award of $500. The SpeedPitch was sponsored by State Bank of Southern Utah and other partners.

The Utah Rural Summit is the premier rural summit with a rich history of convening Utah’s top leaders and decision-makers to influence the economic viability of rural Utah. Hosted in Cedar City on Southern Utah University’s campus, the Summit provides the ideal platform where partnerships will discuss some of the most critical topics impacting rural Utah.