Fifth annual Utah Global Forum attracts local business leaders and international partners

Presented by Gov. Gary R. Herbert, the annual Utah Global Forum on Nov. 8, 2018, convened national experts, diplomats from Utah’s largest international trade markets and more than 400 Utah business leaders to discuss the opportunities and challenges for Utah to increase its global trade and investment.

Now in its fifth year, the forum offers an innovative space for leaders and industry experts to come together and share their ideas to expand beyond local boundaries and excel in the global marketplace.

“With more than 3,500 Utah companies exporting internationally, global trade is vital to Utah’s economy,” said Miles Hansen, president and CEO of World Trade Center Utah. During the forum, Hansen discussed how Utah is positioned to be a global hub of innovation and technology. “The work being done by Utah’s leaders now positions the state for long-term, worldwide success, and the forum facilitates the conversation on how we can all achieve that success together.”

The theme of this year’s forum, “Utah – Crossroads of the World,” was chosen in anticipation of three major state projects. “Utah has been the crossroads of the West since settlement. With the expansion of the state’s international airport, the continued rise of Silicon Slopes and a global port, Utah will position itself to become a crossroads of the world much sooner than you think,” said Derek Miller, president and CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber. “While one of these projects alone would be significant for any state, all three at the same time is truly a trifecta. I believe the next few years will be pivotal to our state’s long-term success.”Held at The Grand America Hotel, the forum was hosted by World Trade Center Utah, the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development and the Salt Lake Chamber. Deseret Management Corporation was the presenting partner of the forum.

The forum’s keynote speaker was Ben Stein who, apart from being famous for his role in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” is an award-winning, best-selling, economist, lawyer and teacher in the areas of economics, politics and daily life in America. Stein shared a message of optimism and accountability. During his speech, Stein emphasized that despite the negative press stories we see each day, Utah is living in an era of unparalleled prosperity and stability. Continued prosperity is not guaranteed, Stein said, each of us has a responsibility to engage in our communities and the world with respect, hard work and innovation. Stein also shared his views on how Utah can continue to be a crossroads for international business and success.

Attendees later joined breakout sessions led by experts in their respective fields on some of the most important topics facing Utah today, including: how the inland port can benefit businesses, how to jumpstart an international career and how Utah businesses can find international success in a session with trade officials from Canada, China, Hong Kong and Mexico.

“With nearly 500 international companies operating in Utah, the state is experiencing exponential global growth,” said Val Hale, executive director of the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development. “I’m happy to report our exports for the 2018 calendar year are up 10 percent over 2017. Nothing is sustainable without continued focus and investment. Each year we consistently focus on this effort and it is paying off.”

An exciting addition to this year’s forum was the presentation and judging of three finalists from the World Trade Center Utah’s annual Pitch Competition. The competition provided small to medium-sized Utah businesses with an opportunity to compete for grant funds to advance their international business goals. This grant was made possible by the generous donation of JPMorgan Chase & Co. The winners of the competition were:

  • 1st place winner of $10,000 — Harvest Lane Honey
  • 2nd place winner of $7,500 — Dark Energy
  • 3rd place winner of $2,500 — Emissions-Based Maintenance (EBM)

In addition to the Pitch Competition winners, other outstanding international business leaders were featured for their success. The World Trade Association in partnership with KeyBank recognized two individuals and a company for their contributions to Utah’s global growth, including:

  • International Person of the Year — David Utrilla, founder and CEO of U.S. Translation Company
  • International Company of the Year — Lifetime Products
  • Lifetime Achievement Award — Stan Rees, founder of Salt Lake Community College’s Global Business Center

Visit for detailed information and video recordings from this year’s event, plus updates about the 2019 Utah Global Forum.