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SALT LAKE CITY -- Even though experts say the economy is recovering, a recent CNN poll shows most Americans are still hurting. New numbers this week also show that more than 82,000 Utahns are unemployed right now.
That's why Gov. Gary Herbert has appointed the new "Economic Development Dream Team" of Spencer P. Eccles, and Josh Romney to lead the Governor's Office of Economic Development, which has a mandate to "provide rich business resources for the creation, growth and recruitment of companies to Utah and to increase tourism and film production in the state."
Both men are prominent businessmen from prominent families; both committed to pull the state out of the economic doldrums."We're not where we want to be," Herbert said in a news conference Thursday. "We're also not where we're capable of being, and these gentlemen are going to lead us to new heights."
Eccles, son of former bank executive Spencer F. Eccles, will serve full time as Executive Director. Josh Romney, one of Mitt Romney's sons, will serve as the state's national business recruitment policy adviser.
The governor's challenge to both Eccles and Romney is to protect jobs that are here now; to work with local businesses and entrepreneurs with ways to grow small businesses; and to reach out to national and international businesses, urging them to relocate in Utah.
"I think we want to look, from a business perspective, at all the different things that create an environment for a business," Eccles said. "And that's not just tax or incentives; that's including the lifestyle, how do we market ourselves?"Opportunities exist for Utah to capture businesses seeking to avoid higher costs and taxes in other states. Eccles and Romney will also work to find opportunities for smaller businesses to establish or expand.
"There's two sides to this coin," Romney said. "Obviously, there are a lot of people who are hurting and feel the pain. But I think if we encourage people who can start businesses to do so, we'll all get out of this quicker."
What's new here is an experienced, aggressive leadership team at the Governor's Office of Economic Development. The challenge: keeping and creating good jobs in Utah.