“Utah’s Own” Food Products Contribute to a Tasty Economic Summit

Pete CodellaNews

World class business leaders will gather together to learn, network and share some meals during the 8th Annual Governor’s Economic Summit Conference, April 3, 2014 at the Grand America Hotel.

The theme of the Summit is Executing the Fundamentals for a Better Bottom Line. Such fundamentals include the importance of job creation through the support of small business as emphasized by Governor Gary Herbert.

One program that is helping the Governor accomplish his vision is Utah’s Own, a program housed in the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food. Utah’s Own enables agriculture and food companies with business-to-business networking, resourceful training and credible local branding. However, most people recognize Utah’s Own via its membership – those companies growing and making quality food.

One of the highlights of the annual Summit is the closing networking reception,  hosted by Utah’s Own, and an opportunity to discover some great local tastes.  This year’s menu will showcase nearly 50 local food businesses, nearly doubling the amount of brands featured since 2011. The increase in variety is one of the hallmarks of Utah’s growing agricultural diversity.

Agriculture has deep roots in Utah.  Many producers are carrying on family businesses and such producers and processors are a solid cornerstone of Utah’s economic health.  In 2011 agriculture accounted for $17.5 billion (after adjusting for multiplier effects) in total economic output.  Utah’s Gross State Output (2011) shows agriculture and its associated processing sector account for 14.1 percent of total state output.

Agriculture is also a major employer in the State of Utah.  Production and processing of agriculture directly employ 30,100 people in the state.  If you take into account the jobs created by the multiplying effects you can add another 48,000 jobs for a total of 78,100 people in the state directly or indirectly employed due to agriculture.

Last year, Utah’s Own sampled its membership to ascertain the economic force of agriculture and food entrepreneurship. Of the 150 respondents, the report showed 591 new jobs were created by Utah’s Own companies since 2010. A deeper analysis showed the companies collectively created about 200 jobs per year, averaging 4 new employees per company. Those same respondents project another 260 jobs per year through 2015.

“We support the Governor’s initiatives to create new jobs all across the state including rural areas,” commented Luann Adams, Commissioner of the Department of Agriculture and Food, the agency that manages the Utah’s Own Program.  She continued, “Utah’s Own is stepping up its game and will become an even stronger player in building the state’s economy.”

Utah’s Own has hosted the networking session at the Governor’s Economic Summit since 2011 and has used it as an opportunity to involve high school students participating in the ProStart program.  High School ProStart provides a curriculum from culinary techniques to management skills for students to explore a career path in the food industry.

To give students an opportunity to gain practical experience, the chefs at Grand America have been willing to let the ‘chefs in training’ come to the kitchens and work with them to prepare food for the reception.  The students agree this is a great opportunity for them.  This has also worked out well for the Grand America as they have hired some of the past program graduates.

Utah’s Own boasts of a substantial membership and the number is growing.  The impetus that Commissioner Adams has renewed in the program is helping to grow membership and keep Utah’s Own in the sight of consumers, both locally and nationwide.  In fact, Utah’s agricultural viability is evident even in international markets.  Case in point is Utah’s Own member Cristiano Creminelli of Creminelli Fine Meats.

Cristiano Creminelli comes from a family that has been making artisan meats since the 1600’s in Italy.  He chose Utah as the site for his business because of the ideal climate and the quality of hogs provided by Utah farmers.

Cristiano started out in Utah in 2007 by opening a salumificio, or meat shop, inside Tony Caputo’s Market and Deli in Salt Lake City.  The exceptional quality of his products has helped him expand his business into a 40,000 square foot building near Salt Lake City International Airport.  He, along with his well trained staff make salami, prosciutto ham and cooked products such as mortadella.  Conference attendees will be able to sample Creminelli Fine Meats along with a wide variety of Utah products during the Utah’s Own Reception.

Business leaders look forward to the Governors Economic Summit every year.  Now with the Utah’s Own Reception growing in popularity you can look forward to it ending as well.  Utah’s Own goal is to introduce you to the beautiful diversity of food that Utah businesses produce and hopefully have you leaving the Summit with a good taste in your mouth.