2014 Washington County Economic Summit set for January 16, 2014

Hundreds of business and organization leaders will gather Thursday, January 16 at St. George’s Dixie Center to again learn What’s Up Down South at the 2014 Washington County Economic Summit.


With most key indicators pointing to continuing strong growth, local businesses look forward to optimistic presentations at the event, now in its 17th year. “We’re working on some promising projects and are very busy responding to inquiries,” Scott Hirschi, Executive Director of Site Select Plus said.  “In many ways, the region is transforming itself to match the lessons learned during the Great Recession,” Hirschi said. This includes a new name and brand for the previous Washington County Economic Development Council now known as Site Select Plus.  The Summit, also known as What’s Up Down South after its popular rapid fire bullet point session, will feature projects up to 18 months in the future.

Even with Utah’s stellar economic comeback, uncertainties such as the Affordable Care Act require careful monitoring. This year’s Summit theme, Politics vs. the Economy, reflects those concerns. Lunch keynoters LaVarr Webb and Frank Piganelli, who write a popular Deseret News political column, will provide a lively commentary representing viewpoints from opposite sides of the political fence.

The breakfast session will feature Scott Anderson, president of Zions Bank, and Randy Shumway, founder of the Cicero group, a data driven strategy firm. Department of Workforce Services Economist Lecia Langston, who carefully monitors the regional economy’s dips and curves, will show how the local region is faring.

In addition to the ballroom sessions, the Summit will also feature 10 breakout sessions designed to help participants make critical decisions in the coming year. New breakouts this year include:

Workforce Development – Labor Exchange. The Utah Department of Workforce Services is offering a new service featuring a highly efficient process that will help both employers and employees effectively deploy the new system to find the perfect fit for every business workforce need.

Do you have the Entrepreneurial Mindset? Investor and founder of Boom Startup John Richards will use examples from many of the startups he has mentored to demonstrate how entrepreneurial qualities of persistence, independence, innovation and risk-taking can help participants stay ahead of the curve.

Marketing Nuggets. Veteran marketer Tom Love, founder of Love Communications, one of the state’s top PR agencies, will provide tried and true tactics that will help strengthen and integrate a dynamic marketing plan.

The Affordable Care Act and the Health of your Business. Like it or not, the Affordable Care Act is here. Select Health attorney Greg Matis, an expert who has spoken nationwide on the subject, will address the latest developments in the law and its impact.

Business Integrity: Is Self-Service Replacing Public Service? In today’s society, opportunism, self-gratification and concern for personal success seem to be overwhelming basic integrity.  In a highly interactive presentation, BYU professor and author Brad Agle shows how choices affect ethical dilemmas – even in the most virtuous.

Lessons Learned in Growing a Small Business. While helpful hints from small business success stories inspire, what about the mistakes other businesses have made? Three local business owners will expound on their positive and negative experiences in their quest for success.

In addition to the new offerings, some perennial Summit favorites will be back including breakouts on Residential and Commercial Real Estate. In addition, the Soltis Financial Forecast will feature Joseph Tanious, a frequent guest on CNBC and Bloomberg TV providing information on investment and Fed “tapering”.

Always a controversial topic, the water discussion on the Lake Powell Pipeline Costs & Benefits
will feature consultant Jeremy Aguero who will review and analyze the economic implications of water resources stability in southern Utah including water supply, demand and pricing issues in the region.

Interspersed throughout the activities of the day, Summit participants are invited to become better acquainted with some of Washington County’s companies at the Business Showcase in the Garden Room. This year’s Garden Room Showcase will feature technology companies, selected startup firms, and some firms featuring new products.

After the lunch session closes, two bonus sessions, Reviewing Vision Dixie Progressand Safety Consulting Services will take place at the Dixie Center Summit venue. Bonus sessions are free of charge to the public as well as Summit participants. All Summit sessions are listed at www.whatsupdownsouth.com.