Economics

Utah’s Hidden Employment Gem

25K Jobs Tour Connects Wasatch Front With Rural Utah

Marissa Shields Jan 11, 2018

Utah has one of the best economies in the nation. For the last 10 years, the American Legislative Exchange Council has ranked the state No. 1 for economic outlook. Yet there are many counties in rural Utah struggling to create jobs.

In response to Gov. Gary Herbert’s call to create 25,000 jobs in rural Utah in the next four years, Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox created the 25K Jobs Launch Tour. The goal is to visit 25 rural counties and connect them with resources to help grow their businesses and bolster their economies. Some of the more than 20 organizations involved include Zions Bank, the Governor’s Office of Economic Development and EDCUtah.

Creating Opportunities

“Utah has the recipe for economic success, and we are committed to creating opportunities in communities spanning every corner of the state,” says Derek B. Miller, president and CEO of World Trade Center Utah. “The 25K Jobs Tour is the first step toward accomplishing this goal.”

Each stop on the tour draws anywhere from 50 to 200 people. Attendees include everyone from job seekers to local government leaders to engaged county residents.

Along with providing resources for local businesses, tour organizers hope to connect businesses along the Wasatch Front with potential employees in rural areas. With the Wasatch Front’s low unemployment rate, finding qualified workers is becoming increasingly difficult, says Robert Spendlove, economic and public policy officer at Zions Bank.

“While the state of Utah is seeing strong economic growth, rural communities continue to struggle,” Spendlove says. “By tapping into these rural communities, the Utah economy will be able to operate more efficiently and grow more strongly.”

Wasatch Front Businesses Hiring Rural Employees

The thought of hiring remote employees doesn’t always come to mind, Miller said. But it could be a solution to the Wasatch Front’s lack of employees and rural Utah’s lack of jobs.

One example is Draper company HealthEquity that provides tools for health savings accounts and other health financial services. After realizing they couldn’t find enough qualified employees along the Wasatch Front, HealthEquity principals explored opportunities in rural Utah and hired 60 permanent employees who work remotely from Price.

Because each locality has its own nuanced problems that need to be addressed, a steering committee comprised of local and state leaders meets prior to each stop on the tour to discuss what would be most beneficial for the community.

“The goal is to find out what the communities need from those actually living and working there,” Miller says.

The purpose of the 25K Jobs Tour is not to tell communities what they need; it is to learn what economic bottlenecks they are facing and help resolve them so their economies can grow.
 

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