| President's Message
Welcome to Our New Chair, Rich Walje
I extend a heartfelt thank you to our outgoing Chairman Jerry Fenn, of Qwest Communications, for his tireless work on behalf of EDCUtah, and send a warm welcome to our new Chair, Rich Walje, of Rocky Mountain Power. Please read the feature story in today's newsletter to learn about Rich and all he brings to the table for the State of Utah.
On another note, we are seeing good things around the state and are especially pleased with Litehouse Inc.'s decision to build its new manufacturing facility in Hurricane, Utah. The company will employ over 160 people at the facility, which is expected to open in the second quarter 2011. Please use the links in our News Links column for more information about Litehouse Inc.
I am also encouraged by recent news that state tax revenues are increasing in Utah. Few of us like taxes, but the news is a great indicator that Utah's recovery is well underway. To read the report about tax revenues, click here.
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!
President and CEO
EDCUtah Welcomes A. Richard Walje as Chairman of the Board
As the newly elected chairman of the board of trustees for EDCUtah, A. Richard Walje, president of Rocky Mountain Power, says he'd like to engage EDCUtah's board of trustees, executive committee, investors, "and all of the participants we can, to help move economic development forward in Utah."
"I am really excited to serve this great organization," he adds.
Walje was elected chairman of EDCUtah's board of trustees at the organization's annual meeting, Oct. 20. He replaces Jerry Fenn, Qwest Communications president for Utah, whose two-year term as chairman just expired. As president of Rocky Mountain Power, Walje leads approximately 3,000 Utah employees. The utility is a major economic entity in the state, is the largest property tax payer, and has one of the largest payrolls.
"We are all ambassadors for economic development," Walje says, "and in our executive to executive relationships we can play a vital role in helping EDCUtah and the Governor's Office of Economic Development (GOED) jointly achieve their goals."
While the economies in other areas of the country are creating opportunities for Utah, the Beehive State is still an undiscovered jewel in many respects, and Walje says he'd like to help change that.
"Sometimes people wonder about Utah, because of what they hear. We are still a bit of a mystery, compared to other states," he confides. "Nonetheless, visitors to Utah find a welcoming spirit, an excellent business environment, an improving transportation system, excellent quality of life, and tremendous outdoor recreational opportunities. We need to translate these qualities into sound bites that our business leaders can carry to their contacts outside of the state."
Regarding his new leadership role with EDCUtah's board of trustees, Walje says he feels no mandate to make changes. "I have a lot of respect for Jeff Edwards and his team. I think they have demonstrated strong performance over the years," he adds. "We need to ensure the efforts of the board of trustees and executive committee are complementary to those of EDCUtah and GOED."
Before his election as chairman, Walje was leading a strategic review committee for EDCUtah, with the objective of looking at the organization's internal environment to determine if EDCUtah is "doing the things it should be doing, and how well it is doing them." Rocky Mountain Power is one of EDCUtah's founding members and provides the economic development organization with office space as a value in kind contribution.
"We view ourselves as an integral part of society. It's almost our civic duty to serve. I believe we have a social responsibility to be engaged in economic development because of what we do," he explains.
As the state's largest electric utility, Walje believes Rocky Mountain Power plays a fundamental role in the economic vitality of the state, especially in terms of keeping Utah's electric utility rates the sixth lowest in the country. With about 80% of the retail service and almost 90% of the transmission service in the state, Walje estimates that Rocky Mountain Power's percent of transmission service in Utah is probably the most of any electric utility in the nation. It is also the second largest utility owner of wind generation in America.
"We are very supportive of cost-efficient, renewable energy," he says. "We don't just talk about renewable energy, we do it. And we have done a tremendous job of it." The company also owns one of the oldest utility geothermal plants in America.
Together with its sister company, MidAmerican Electric Company, which is based in Iowa, the two utilities own four times more wind energy production than any other utility in the country, according to the American Wind Energy Association. Rocky Mountain Power and Mid American Electric are owned by MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company.
EDCUtah President & CEO Jeff Edwards says his organization is deeply grateful to all of its investors for their support, and especially grateful to Rocky Mountain Power and the other founding investors for their roles in supporting Utah's economic vitality. "We couldn't be nearly so successful in our economic development efforts without great corporate citizens/investors like Rocky Mountain Power," he adds.
Utah Renewable Energy Business Summit (Salt Lake Community College)
EDCUtah Holiday Open House (Salt Lake City)
Jan. 12, 2011
"What's Up Down South" Washington County Economic Summit (St. George)
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Board of Trustees
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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In the News
Food manufacturer Litehouse Inc. selects southern Utah for new plant
Food manufacturer Litehouse Inc. will build a new facility in the southern Utah city of Hurricane – an expected investment of more than $10 million that will add 162 new full-time positions in the rural community.
(Utah Business Magazine) (KCSG) (Utah Pulse) (Deseret News) (Spectrum--subscription required) (Daily Bee)
Governor to California companies: Come to Utah
Three weeks ago I spoke to Utah Gov. Gary Herbert as part of our annual look at the Best States for Business.
Utah facility for Twitter data center up and going
A new data center where Twitter is moving the computer systems that run the massive messaging service is operational in Bluffdale, the company that operates the facility said Tuesday.
(Salt Lake Tribune)
Best, worst states for business?
The Tax Foundation's annual State Business Tax Climate Index ranks Utah in the top 10 states with tax systems that businesses find appealing.
Utah tax picture brightens
State tax collections grew during the first quarter for the first time since 2008, raising hope that the national economic recovery may finally be improving Utah's fiscal fortunes.
ATK declares new rocket motor flight test ready
Utah's Alliant Techsystems Inc. said this week its new five-segment rocket motor under development for NASA is ready for flight testing.
(Salt Lake Tribune)
Editorial: UVU aims to boost regional economy
Local business owners and interested members of the public should set aside Friday morning to hear Utah Valley University president Matthew Holland introduce seven initiatives that he says will boost regional economic development. Holland will lay out the plan at the First Friday Forum sponsored by the Utah Valley Chamber of Commerce.
Businesses to open in and around Ogden Junction
Two new retail stores will open on the east side of Washington Boulevard and another will begin operating at The Junction next month, helping to jump-start the city's Christmas shopping season.
Utah business schools highly ranked
One of the University of Utah's graduate school programs has been recognized as one of the best in the nation, according to a newly released survey.
(Deseret News) (Salt Lake Tribune)
Munitions a boost for ATK's Utah division
Clearfield-based ATK Armaments System has received two more sizable contracts to provide munitions for use in Afghanistan and is at a military expo this week promoting two new lightweight turrets for weapon systems.
(Salt Lake Tribune)
Nuclear mishap caused 2-year Falcon Hill delay
Construction on the long-awaited Falcon Hill project is set to begin today, but the largest enhanced-use lease venture in Air Force history spent more than two years on the ground as the Air Force restructured its nuclear mission.