On Oct. 2, 2018, at Rio Tinto Stadium, Gov. Gary R. Herbert met with about 20 executives from leading technology companies based in Utah. The Tech Roundtable was a listening session for the governor and his economic development team to learn about the challenges the industry faces and the ways the state can foster continued growth.
While the executives acknowledged the positives such as the state’s business-friendly environment, quality of life and talent coming out of our universities, they also gave candid feedback on constraints to future expansion. In a wide-ranging discussion, topics included recruiting out-of-state talent, expanding the capacity of higher education to develop new talent, the environment, infrastructure, liquor laws, encouraging women to join and stay in the workforce, encouraging capital funding for women-owned businesses and continued emphasis on STEM education.
“We had good representation from the next generation of exciting Utah tech companies in attendance,” GOED board member Mel Lavitt said. “The discussion was typical Utah – very lively, to the point, and, most importantly, respectful.”
There was also discussion on what the state can do to improve the perception of Utah beyond our borders. Focused public relations and branding could potentially improve talent and capital recruitment.
The session provided the state and industry association representatives the opportunity to inform the executives on the scope and scale of initiatives already in place. “The state invests millions in programs that have successfully increased the number of engineers coming out of our higher education institutions,” Val Hale, executive director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, said. “We’ve also launched and are expanding a successful Pathways workforce development effort to bring more young people to the tech industry. We need to do a better job getting the word out about those efforts.”
“We’re not the only market nationwide facing these challenges,” Hale continued. “I’m confident that the Utah spirit of collaboration puts us in a better position than most to address the issues that growth and success bring.”
The Tech Roundtable was the latest in a regular series of meetings with key industries that GOED coordinates. Recent roundtables have focused on the financial services and aerospace clusters. For more information on Utah’s economic development clusters, click here.