Feb. 1, 2013

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Jeff Edwards President's Message
An Outdoor Recreation Vision

In conjunction with the opening of the 2013 legislative session, the Salt Lake Chamber released its 2013 Public Policy Guide, which it provided to Utah's Legislative leaders. The Guide outlines the business community's position on issues including economic development, education, transportation, health reform, energy, clean air, immigration, Downtown Rising and international business.

The Guide received the broad-based support of Chambers of Commerce from across the state, along with other business associations and partners. It is a well thought out document. If you haven't had the opportunity to review the Guide, we encourage you to do so. You may access it here.

One other note: we have finalized the venue for our upcoming investor orientation session, which we will hold on Feb. 8 from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. in Ballard Spahr's Solitude Conference Room on the 8th floor of One Utah Center (201 S. Main Street, Salt Lake City). We designed this orientation session for EDCUtah investors with new contacts in their organizations or other people they would like to introduce to EDCUtah.

During the session we'll highlight what we do, our processes and introduce our staff. Plan on a light breakfast and educational insight into EDCUtah's economic development efforts and your role as an EDCUtah investor. Please RSVP by Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2013 by contacting Kaitlyn Brown, kbrown@edcutah.org, or Sherrie Martell, smartell@edcutah.org.

Today's Economic Review also includes links to many of the ED-related news stories from the past week. As always, if you have comments, suggestions or topics you'd like to see in the Economic Review, please contact us by clicking the "Comments" link on the bottom of this page. Enjoy!

Jeff Edwards

Jeff Edwards
President and CEO

Feature Story

Providing a Skilled Workforce: New 'Exploring Computer Science' Curriculum Will Help Support Industry Needs

Consider these two facts: Despite Utah's strong recovery from the recession, 71,000 Utahns don't have jobs and still seek employment (as reported by Governor Gary R. Herbert in his State of the State address Wednesday night). Fact two: Utah colleges and universities graduate about half the number of students with computer science degrees necessary to fill the growing number of computing jobs available.

The latter fact is according to a study by the National Center for Women in Technology, which says from 2006-2016 computing-related jobs in Utah will grow by 39 percent -- the highest growth rate in the nation -- but the state's educational system is only supplying about half of the skilled workers to fill the increasing number of jobs.

The challenge in filling computer science-related jobs spills over into the engineering and other high tech fields as well. Many businesses in Utah's high-tech community say the number one challenge to their growth is finding skilled workers.

Workforce Alignment
Why, in the most technologically advanced state (according to the Center for Digital Government) in the nation, are there still so many unemployed when an increasing number of high-paying, high tech jobs either go unfilled or are filled by workers recruited from out of state? The answer lies in workforce alignment and educational production. In relation to the growth in computing jobs, insufficient numbers of high school and college students are choosing to study computer science.

Fewer than 2,400 Utah high school students took computer science classes last year. Many high school students are either not being introduced to computer science or are disheartened by computer classes that are overly focused on programming. Nonetheless, a study by the College Board found that students who take AP computer science in high school are eight times more likely to major in computer science in college.

To fix the problem, Helen Hu, an associate professor of computer science at Westminster College, working in collaboration with educators from Brigham Young University and Southern Utah University, is directing a National Science Foundation-funded project to implement a new, more engaging curriculum called Exploring Computer Science. The goal is to get more Utah high school students -- especially girls and minorities underrepresented in computing -- interested in computer science. which should translate into more students taking computer science courses in college. The project was funded by a $790,000 grant from the National Science Foundation.

Problem-Solving Skills
Through the new Exploring Computer Science (ECS) curriculum, rather than simply teaching students how to use software or how to program computers, students will learn problem-solving skills and how to be innovative -- tools that can be valuable whether they choose a computer science career or not, says Hu. "They will learn how to CREATE technology, not just how to USE technology."

She and the other project leaders plan to train 100 more Utah teachers in how to teach the ECS class over the next three years. That would be enough teachers to offer the new curriculum at either most of the high schools in the state or approximately half the high schools and junior high schools. Part of the challenge in rolling out the new curriculum is finding teachers qualified to teach computer science. Hu notes that any teacher with experience in computer science can probably earn a significantly higher salary in the business sector than they can by teaching computer science. "So it can be a challenge getting a computer science course that is taught well," she adds.

While the ECS course was designed as a one-year curriculum, it will be rolled out in Utah as a half-year course, substituting for the existing half-year Computer Technology course currently required for graduation. Starting in the 2013-2014 school year, Utah high school students will be able to meet graduation requirements by taking the Exploring Computer Science course rather than the original, outdated Computer Technology course.

Summer Workshops
To implement the new ECS curriculum, Hu and her team will be conducting workshops at Westminster, and eventually SUU, for the next three summers. This year's workshop will be held June 24-28 in Salt Lake City. Teachers that participate will be paid a stipend for attending the workshop and an additional stipend for time spent working/mentoring in support groups. Hu notes that any teacher is welcome to attend the workshops -- they don't need to be computer science teachers. Existing Computer Technology teachers are especially encouraged to apply.

Teachers and administrators interested in attending the workshop should contact Hu at Hhu@westminstercollege.edu. Parents interested in having the new Exploring Computer Science class offered in their schools should contact their school's Information Technology teachers, guidance counselors or Career Technical Education directors. You can learn more about the project at Westminster's Exploring Computer Science website.

The new Exploring Computer Science curriculum is coming to Utah at an important time and should be beneficial to the Prosperity 2020 goal of having 66 percent of the Utah adult population with a college degree or post-secondary certificate by the year 2020. As the Governor pointed out in his State of the State address, just 42.6 percent of the Utah workforce meets that standard now. Further, the new curriculum is beneficial to the state's workforce alignment initiatives and the goal of preparing Utah students for high tech careers through a focus on science, technology, engineering and math education (STEM).


Jan. 1-31
Celebrate 75 years of the Alta Experience! (Alta Ski Area)

Feb. 4-5
Conference on Electric Roads & Vehicles (CERV) (Park City)

Feb. 6
USU Partners in Business 29th Annual Information Technology Conference (Eccles Conference Center, Utah State University)

Feb. 6
Deadline for submission of executive summaries for the Utah Entrepreneur Challenge, where student entrepreneurs compete for $40,000.

Mar. 30
Utah Entrepreneur Challenge Finalist Presentations, 9 a.m. - 2 p.m.

April 2-3, 2013
USU Partners in Business 5th Annual Leadership Conference (Eccles Conference Center, Utah State University)

May 1
5th Annual Milford Renewable Energy Fair (Milford High School)

June 4-6
MPO Summit helping medtech manufacturing (Grand America Hotel, Salt Lake City)

July 15-17
GOED trade mission to the Philippines. Financial Aid is Available for Qualifying Companies through a Grant from the SBA. For more information or to apply, please contact Daniel Royal at 801-538-8640 or droyal@utah.gov.

Sept. 26
Save the Date! "What's Goin' Down Up North' Economic Summit (Logan)

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The EDCUtah Economic Review is a weekly publication of the Economic Development Corporation of Utah. It is distributed to EDCUtah partners and selected other government and civic organizations interested in Utah's economic development.

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Newsletter Archive


In the News

State of State: Utah governor 'Never been more optimistic'
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert struck familiar chords Wednesday in his State of the State address, describing a state on the rebound, but challenging lawmakers to remain focused on improving education and jobs, expanding energy development and maintaining air and water quality.
(Salt Lake Tribune) (Deseret News) (Standard-Examiner)

Building Utah's workforce key to becoming Silicon Valley East
Instead of a place to keep felons behind bars, the ground on which the Utah State Prison now sits could someday be the hub of a sprawling business community where bright minds unlock the door to new technology.
(Deseret News)

Provo/Orem No. 2 in U.S. in patents granted, low unemployment
Utah County is enjoying economic growth in part because it's a tech center that continues to innovate and generate patents, while also having low unemployment, according to a study released Friday by the Brookings Institution.
(Salt Lake Tribune)

Governor calls to move prison; Draper mayor agrees
The governor has renewed the call to move the prison from the south end of the Salt Lake Valley, and Draper leaders say the time is right.

New video highlights USTAR's progress
What sort of impact is the Utah Science, Technology and Research initiative USTAR having on the state of Utah? A new video produced by Zions Bank provides an update on USTAR progress and accomplishments.
(Utah Pulse)

The Ninigret Group increases holdings in Utah
The Ninigret Group, L.C. ("Ninigret") announced today that it has acquired the real estate property known as Utah Industrial Depot ("Ninigret Depot") and 184 acres in Syracuse, Utah now known as Ninigret Park North. Ninigret Depot consists of approximately 801 acres of developed, partially developed and undeveloped industrial land and buildings located in Tooele.
(Press Release) (Standard-Examiner)

Study links rural income levels to protected lands
A new study by a Montana think tank has found a strong positive correlation between personal income in rural Western counties with the amount of protected federal land in or near those counties.
(Salt Lake Tribune)

Utah business leaders encouraged by principles of proposed federal immigration reform
Earlier today members of the Salt Lake Chamber staff participated in a conference call with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and the National Immigration Forum to discuss the newly-released, bipartisan framework for comprehensive immigration reform.
(Utah Pulse)

Utah legislators eye bottom line as higher education asks for more money
In a year when Utah's governor is proposing a boost in state funding for higher education, the state's legislators seem focused on getting the biggest possible bang for the public buck.
(Salt Lake Tribune)

It's electric
Reshaping Utah's transportation infrastructure is key as the Wasatch Front and the rest of the state grapples with unprecedented growth. Utah has already made strategic investments addressing this growth from the I-15 Corridor, Frontrunner and expansion of Trax throughout the Salt Lake Valley.
(Utah Pulse)

Salt Lake housing market expected to rebound in 2013
The wild, roller-coaster ride that has been the Salt Lake housing market over the past eight years finally may be starting to smooth out.
(Deseret News) (Salt Lake Tribune)

University of Utah's David Eccles School of Business announces creation of the James Lee Sorenson Center for Global Impact Investing
Created through a $13 million personal gift from James Lee Sorenson, the new Center will engage students at the University of Utah and partner universities in creating sustainable change on regional and global levels through high-impact social investment, innovative curriculum and research.
(Utah Pulse)

Consumer attitudes hold steady in Utah
Utah consumers have more faith in the state's economy than most Americans have in the national economy.
(Deseret News)

Some families to be priced out of President Obama's health overhaul
Some families could get priced out of health insurance due to what's being called a glitch in President Barack Obama's overhaul law. IRS regulations issued Wednesday failed to fix the problem as liberal backers of the president's plan had hoped.
(Deseret News)

Utah oil shale becomes political punching bag in Estonia
An Estonian firm's plan to develop oil shale resources in Utah has sparked a political ruckus inside the small Baltic nation.
(Salt Lake Tribune)

Vista Station unveiled
Vista Station, the new 100+ acre development located in Draper at the South Valley FrontRunner Commuter Rail Hub at 13000 South 550 West is unveiled. eBay's new $110 million campus is nearing completion in the heart of Vista Station.

Convergys filling 100 jobs in Utah
Convergys Corp. is seeking to fill more than 100 sales and customer service positions at its contact center in Cedar City, Utah.

Grow your business in the Philippines
The International Trade and Diplomacy Office of the Governor's Office of Economic Development will be hosting a trade mission to the Philippines on July 15-17, 2013.
(Utah Pulse)

Utah's Avenue H better than federal exchange plan, health leaders say
Utah's health industry leaders on Wednesday said they want to keep the state's insurance exchange, Avenue H, arguing it would better serve taxpayers and employers than "an expensive and burdensome" federal version.
(Salt Lake Tribune)