UCAIR’s final monthly partner meeting recap for 2018 is here! This installment covers our December 2018 partners meeting. In 2018 UCAIR and our partner accomplished a lot. This makes saying goodbye to 2018 is a little bit bittersweet, however, we are excited to see what 2019 has in store. At this partners meeting we enjoyed a presentation from Derek Miller the President & CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber and Downtown Alliance, as well as, the chairman of the Inland Port Board. He was gracious enough to come and talk to us about ‘Utah’s 2020 Trifecta’, which includes the Inland Port, airport remodel and prison relocation. He talked to us about the history of the inland port, what the future may bring and shed some light on just how important it could be for our future.
Utah’s 2020 Trifecta
Utah has reached a critical moment when important decisions about the future of development our beautiful state must be made. Fortunately, Utah is well equipped to face these challenges because of three unique strengths. First is our global connectedness. We are an internationally minded state, one of only a few that has grown its exports in international business. In fact, Utah was the only state with positive export growth during the recession. This growth has continued, our export economy is the sixth fastest growing in the country. Our second unique strength is our fiscal prudence. Here in Utah we have stable and low taxes, reasonable regulation, and regulatory reform. This creates a business climate that is a serious asset to the state. Utah’s final key strength is our spirit of collaboration. Utahans combine community building and working together with rugged individualism that characterizes the American West.
Of the three major projects that comprise the 2020 Trifecta, the inland port is possibly the most talked about and least understood. One central question many Utahans have is what is an inland port exactly? By definition an inland port is a logistics and distribution hub further inland from coastal ports. In reality an inland port is not one thing, but rather a spectrum, from the largest, most high-tech facilities to a simple cinder-block building. The idea of an inland port in Utah has been floating around since the 1970s, however its current iteration is only about three years old. With proper planning Utah could position itself to be the center of commerce for the United States with an inland port. The land in question is privately owned, and it will be inevitably developed at some point, the only question is what will it be developed into. Utah is in a unique position, there is no significant competitor in the region that can match what we have to offer. However, it is essential look beyond a traditional logistics hub to fully capitalize on a job creating project that will expand and diversify our economy.
Exports are already an important component of Utah’s thriving economy. Over 3,500 Utah companies are exporting their goods from Utah. Nearly a quarter of jobs in our state are supported by exports and international business. We have doubled our exports in the last 10 years, resulting in an annual trade surplus of $4 billion. Here in Utah, not all exports come from big businesses. In fact, 85% share of Utah exports come from small business. Some of the top exports include metals, computer and electronic products, chemicals, transportation equipment and food and kindred products. These exports go to such far flung places as the Netherlands and Singapore, but also to our neighbors Mexico and Canada. An inland port would provide an opportunity to integrate imports into our economy as well.
A challenge facing any potential inland port is balancing both inbound and outbound traffic. We want to be sending containers back to coastal ports full of goods and exports that have arrived here full. One possible scenario is that most of the business activities at Utah’s inland port would consist of unpacking containers, assembly and last line manufacturing. In order to meet the many challenges and solidify what an inland port in the northwest quadrant would look like an Inland Port Board was created with the ultimate goal of creating an Inland Port Authority. This new board’s motto is “Move quickly but don’t be rushed”. In the four months since its creation they have created policy making all meeting open to the public meetings and adopted public input and decorum standards. They have also hired firm to conduct nationwide search for an executive director of the Inland Port Authority. Until this search in concluded, an interim executive director is in place. A request for proposals is currently open for the environmental and economic impact studies that closes on January 7. There is still a lot of work to be done as this process unfolds and questions still to be answered. Among these question are what could the air quality impact be both with the potential Inland Port and any ancillary businesses. One of the goals of the environmental study will be to determine what the impact will be and how to work with the community to minimize it. One thing we know for sure is that an inland port, of any kind, will be an important part of Utah’s future.
Following the presentation, partners shared what projects and initiatives they are currently working on. These included:
Peter Reichard, Utah Foundation – They have projects coming up around air quality, growth, and economic development, and water. They just released a report on drug rehabilitation and criminal justice. It shows unintended consequences of criminal justice reform from 2015.
Brittany Guerra, Utah Dept. of Health Asthma Program – They have been doing the recess recommendation guidelines. They have an asthma task force meeting Feb 5th. They will talk about how air quality affects your health. They will have breakfast.
Patrice Arent, State Representative – The legislature annual session starts next month. If you have ideas or suggestions, please contact your legislator. They are working on funding issues for clean air also.
Thom Carter, UCAIR – UCAIR has a community calendar where you can post your events. There is a newsmaker breakfast at the Kem C. Gardner Institute on Jan. 9th. It will be focused on air quality. Erica Evans, reporter for Deseret News and Thom will be there. The Show UCAIR Annual Summit will be Feb. 6th. There will be special pricing for partners. Jim Cantore will be the speaker.