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Governor Gary R. Herbert announced the formation of the Economic Response Task Force as a subcommittee of the COVID-19 Community Task Force.

This group will include leaders from the private and public sector and will focus on mitigating the economic impact of the coronavirus in Utah. Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall and Salt Lake Chamber President Derek Miller also spoke at the press conference, along with other city and business leaders.

Governor Herbert appointed Miller to organize the subcommittee, directing him to “work with members across the state, including the Governor’s Office of Economic Development” to help minimize the economic impact of the virus on Utahns, providing actionable information to employers and employees, and assisting those affected by economic consequences to seek guidance with finding employment and financial assistance from both public and private programs. “This will be a collaborative effort between business and government to disseminate information and resources to local and state enterprises on available resources,” the Governor said.

The Governor also outlined resources that are already available, including the Department of Workforce Services. “If you have lost your job or had hours reduced, there is help through the DWS,” he said, directing those affected to go to jobs.utah.gov, call 801-526-WORK, or visit the 31 employment centers around the state. “I do believe that together we can flatten out the curve and weather this pandemic,” Herbert said. 

Mayor Mendenhall called on the public and private sectors to work together in taking “necessary steps to prevent spread of the virus any further,” and to provide for those caught in its path, both physically and economically. “We are fluidly bracing for an impact whose force we are not completely sure of,” she said, adding that “this rapidly evolving crisis demands deliberate action and not delays.” 

The Mayor outlined federal programs that will provide funds through the Small Business Administration and other agencies, but said those “funds will not be available for a couple weeks.” To help bridge the gap, the Mayor said that tomorrow she is asking the City Counsel to set aside $1 million to “mitigate the crisis,” and she encouraged city and state leaders to “work around the clock to support local businesses.”  

In responding to the Governor’s directive to organize the Economic Response Task Force, Miller said the focus of the group will be to protect jobs and strengthen the fundamentals that have made Utah the most economically successful state in the nation, while working to assist those who have been adversely affected by the economic impact of the coronavirus. “A dozen years ago, during the Great Recession, Utah set a goal to create 100,000 jobs in 1,000 days,” Miller said. “Working together, we accomplished that goal ahead of schedule. Utah was able to come out of the recession faster and stronger than anywhere else because Utah’s economic fundamentals were strong. Those fundamentals remain strong today as we face a new challenge to protect the jobs that have been created. Stated another way, the focus on this Economic Response Task Force will be to Protect 100,000 jobs over the days ahead.”

Available federal, state and local business resources are consolidated at slchamber.com/coronavirus.

Other participants in the press conference held at the Salt Lake Chamber included Kaitlin Eskelson, chief executive officer of Visit Salt Lake; Judd Cook, director of operations at Dominion Energy; Theresa Foxley, president and CEO of EDCUtah; Matt Caputo, CEO of Caputo’s Market and Deli; and, Clint Betts, executive director of Silicon Slopes.