Utah State Capitol

We’re Swapping Development for Opportunity

Pete CodellaNews

Last winter, the Utah Legislature passed a bill that received Gov. Cox’s signature (H.B. 348).

As a result, starting July 1, 2021, the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development is now the Governor’s Office of Economic Opportunity, or Go Utah for short.

As reported by numerous Utah media outlets, H.B. 348 aims to maintain our attractive business environment and increase access to training and upskilling needed for Utahns to achieve economic prosperity.

Gov. Cox is quoted in Utah Business magazine saying, “We can be much smarter about where we’re putting those incentives trying to attract the right industries that will, in turn, have a multiplier effect on our economy and help people.”

Part of fine-tuning Utah’s approach to economic development includes a focus on strategically supporting and encouraging growth in targeted industries to help drive more economic growth.

“H.B. 348 represents two or three years of work to realign Utah’s economic development,” said Dan Hemmert, executive director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Opportunity. “There’s a significant focus on Utah talent development, so we have a trained workforce ready to support companies that wish to expand or open operations here.”

Talent Ready Utah, a Go Utah initiative, is already hard at work aligning training programs with industry needs. This year will see a continuation of the popular Learn & Work In Utah program, where the state’s COVID-19 relief funds help provide free and discounted tuition to retrain and reskill Utah’s workforce.

Another critical component of Utah’s economic development apparatus is its post-performance incentives program. Created by the Legislature in 2005, Utah’s Economic Development Tax Increment Financing (EDTIF) program has supported the state’s corporate retention and recruitment efforts. Approximately two-thirds of companies participating in EDTIF since its inception are Utah-based companies expanding in the state.

Building on the state’s corporate retention success, the Legislature also passed H.B. 356, creating the Rural Economic Development Tax Increment Financing (REDTIF) program to ensure opportunities are available to Utahns throughout the state.

“The other big change,” Hemmert said, “is a new Unified Economic Opportunity Commission to develop, direct, and coordinate economic development strategies statewide and with a regional focus. Gov. Cox chairs the Commission, and I’m the vice-chair. Our Boards of Directors, for economic development, tourism, and talent development are subcommittees of the new Commission.”

You can learn more about the Unified Economic Opportunity Commission here.

The state’s focus on economic opportunity for all Utahns is much more than new high-paying jobs. It will balance all quality of life elements, including affordable housing, access to motorized and non-motorized outdoor recreation, transportation, and clean air. “We’re focused on strategic growth with a long-term, forward-looking perspective,” Hemmert said.

The Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Opportunity’s vision is to create the world’s best economy and quality of life. The office will accomplish this by cultivating economic prosperity throughout the great state of Utah.