What’s Up Down South: 2014 Washington County Economic Summit

While media attention on Utah’s economic development and growth is often limited to the state’s Wasatch Front region, Utah’s south continues to be a major contributor.

The Washington County Economic Summit brings together the growing and dynamic southern Utah community as the premier business planning event for the region.

Business and organization leaders will gather Thursday, January 16 at St. George’s Dixie Center for the 2014 Summit.  The theme of this year’s summit is Politics vs. the Economy. Lunch keynote speakers LaVarr Webb and Frank Piganelli, writers of a popular Deseret News political column, will provide commentary representing viewpoints from opposite sides of the political fence.

The event, now in its 17th year, offers a unique opportunity for locals to gather and evaluate the regions assets and explore ways to encourage further growth.    

“We’re working on some promising projects and are very busy responding to inquiries,” said Scott Hirschi, executive director of Site Select Plus.  “In many ways, the region is transforming itself to match the lessons learned during the Great Recession.”

This includes a new name and brand for the previous Washington County Economic Development Council now known as Site Select Plus. The summit is often referred to as “What’s Up Down South,” after presentations of projects that will impact the economy of Washington County for the next 18 months.

The acclaimed, “What’s Up Down South” session features rapid-fire short presentations given by businesses and organizations on the verge of major expansions who are poised to rapid growth.

Interspersed throughout the activities of the day, summit participants are invited to become better acquainted with some of Washington County’s up-and-coming companies at the Business Showcase. The showcase was introduced during the 2013 summit and allowed attendees the opportunity to see how many high-tech products and services are located in Southern Utah.  

“The companies included in the showcase are the future of Washington County,” said Jill Elliss, Director of USTAR South. “The showcase allows them to get exposure to the business community as well as providing valuable networking opportunities.”

An exciting new feature of the showcase is the inclusion of a contest where attendees can win a $2,500 Henriksen/Butler chair.  The contest will feature an app developed by Velocity Webworks. The company has worked with Elliss and her team and has seen significant growth of their own in the past year.

This showcase will feature technology companies, selected startup firms, and some firms featuring new products including companies such as Cabosoft, Referial.IM, RX Trax and Xtiri all of which have received assistance from the USTAR program.

The Utah Science and Technology Research (USTAR) Technology Outreach and Innovation Program (TOIP) offices are located at Dixie State University and at Southern Utah University. These programs focus on innovation, entrepreneurship, and investment throughout the region. USTAR’s Southern TOIP has helped launched several companies with USTAR’s Go-To-Market Grants, including Referral.IM and RX Trax.

This year’s breakout sessions will address such topics as workforce development and labor exchange, having an entrepreneurial mindset, how to develop and strengthen a dynamic marketing plan, business integrity and lessons learned from small business success stories.

An additional breakout session will discuss The Affordable Care Act and the health of your business. 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.

Also of special interest, there will be a discussion on the Lake Powell Pipeline costs and benefits. Consultant Jeremy Aguero will review and analyze the economic implications of water resources stability in southern Utah including water supply, demand and pricing issues in the region.

For event registration and a list of all sessions and events please visit  www.whatsupdownsouth.com.