Gov. Gary Herbert is not only a great statesman, he's one of Utah's most effective economic developers, having just returned from a highly productive recruitment trip to the East Coast.
While on the East Coast, Gov. Herbert, the Governor's Office of Economic Development (GOED) and EDCUtah called on two large companies and two site selection organizations, while GOED also hosted a reception for 50-60 alumni from Utah universities whose careers have taken them to the Big Apple. Of the reception, Michael Flynn, EDCUtah's chief marketing officer, says it brought together a group of influential people with Utah ties that work for major companies. "Gov. Herbert deputized them all as ambassadors for the State of Utah," Flynn adds. "The purpose for the reception was to bring this group of people together and share Utah's economic development story with them."
The first company the group visited has a major Utah presence that goes back more than a decade. "The primary objective of meetings like this is to first say thank you" says Flynn. "Second, we always want to ask, 'What can the state do better and what challenges are you experiencing?' And lastly, we like to ask, 'Who in your supply chain can we talk to about the state?'" Flynn says a warm handoff can make all the difference when approaching a business about their future facility needs.
Gov. Herbert also visited with the CEO of a rapidly growing e-commerce company that is adding staff monthly – by the hundreds. "For companies like this, the challenge is always access to quality labor and real estate. We feel like we have really good answers to both of those problems in Utah," says Flynn. The Governor's visit also typifies what is so great about doing economic development in Utah. "The relationship was facilitated by a member of the GOED Incentives Board," says Flynn. "He was willing to dig into his rolodex and make a connection for us that allowed Gov. Herbert to pitch Utah as a future expansion destination."
Flynn describes it as a "genuine selfless mentality" and says it happens in Utah all of the time. "It is unique and amazing and makes it possible for us to get meetings with companies that might otherwise be impossible," he adds.
Another fortunate visit during the recruitment trip occurred when Gov. Herbert and the economic development team visited a site selection firm that had recently been acquired. Where the firm had previously focused its consulting services on the East Coast, through the acquisition it has now expanded its coverage and expects to reach across the U.S. and into the California market. The visit provided Gov. Herbert and the Utah team with an opportunity to tell the Utah story and discuss why so many businesses are looking to Utah as an island of economic stability.
While visiting another consulting firm, Gov. Herbert was able to describe Utah's growing life sciences industry and explain the state's incentive program to a keenly interested group of consultants. Flynn says the consulting firm is a big fan of Utah and brought team members in from Boston and other locations in order to meet with Gov. Herbert.
"With Gov. Herbert along, it is very easy to get appointments with high profile groups of people," notes Flynn. "And getting him in front of senior teams like we did on the recruitment trip is huge for Utah. Gov. Herbert is eloquent and likeable. He can speak specifically about issues important to the state and to the national economy. What's more, he's a big charmer. Every economic development group in the country would love to get in front of the companies we visited."
Flynn concludes by saying the recruitment trip was phenomenal and he expects good things will come of it.