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The Utah Coronavirus Economic Response Task Force, organized and announced by Gov. Gary Herbert just a week ago, is moving rapidly to provide support to businesses and their employees with the goal of keeping Utah’s economy as strong as possible during the crisis.

A draft Utah Economic Response Plan has been written and is being circulated to many stakeholders for comment before being released. The plan is founded on health, science and business data. It will provide details and timelines for Utah’s economic recovery, including three overlapping periods of response: Urgent Phase, Stabilization Phase, and Recovery Phase.  

Salt Lake Chamber President & CEO Derek Miller, who is leading the task force, told task force members in a memo on Saturday, “I want this group to always begin and end by remembering that our work is about PEOPLE.  We often use words like the economy or jobs, but what we are really talking about is people.  Our work is about helping people.  And there are many people who are struggling right now.  They are suffering.  And they are worried.  We CAN help.  Let’s stay focused.”

Miller noted progress made in the last week:

--Natalie Gochnour, Kristen Cox and Theresa Foxley have been working “non-stop” to develop the response plan. “The plan is solid,” Miller said. A variety of stakeholders are making comments before the plan is released in the near future. 

--Committees have been organized and an outpouring of support has been received from leaders who want to help. “It has been amazing,” Miller said. “Literally hundreds of people are contacting me who want to help.  We live in a state and community like no other.  People want to put an oar in the water.  The committees we’ve organized will help us make sure we are rowing in the same direction.  The committee leaders are mobilizing their respective groups.”

Committee chairs are as follows:

-       Policy/Plan, Natalie Gochnour

-       Federal Resources, Miles Hansen

-       State/Local Resources, Val Hale

-       Job Placement, Jon Pierpont

-       Critical Infrastructure, Theresa Foxley

-       Industry Outreach, Jacey Skinner

-       Financial, Scott Anderson

-       Housing, Darin Mellott

-       Communications, Vicki Varela

--The business resource website at coronavirus.utah.gov continues to be updated daily.  The most recent update includes a way to donate to help small businesses impacted most by the virus.  

--The first Virtual Town Hall on economic issues was held last Thursday. “This is an important way to communicate to employers across the state,” Miller said.  “The focus was workforce strategies and we maxed out at 1,000 participants over Zoom.  We are looking to expand capacity.  We will hold these each Tuesday and Thursday at 4 p.m.  The next one will focus specifically on small business resources.

--The Salt Lake Downtown Alliance launched a social media campaign designed to help downtown restaurants to Take the Triple Take Out Challenge.  “Support your local restaurants by eating take out at least three times a week.  It is a small way to help, but even small ways can help.”

The purpose of the Utah Economic Response Task Force is to “Flatten the Dip” (the economic dip) and keep economic response top of mind. Task Force leaders hope businesses will adopt this theme: ADAPT. INNOVATE. OVERCOME.

Three primary objectives have been identified:

    • To consolidate and curate existing resources employers can access that will help them overcome the challenges they face, at coronavirus.utah.gov;
    • To assess and make policy recommendations to federal, state, and local governments;
    • Communicate and hopefully OVER communicate the things that businesses are doing to stay safe AND stay open for business, and what consumers can do to continue to support their local businesses and keep the gears of commerce moving.

Economic Response Task Force Members:

Governor Gary Herbert; Lt. Governor Spencer Cox; Derek Miller, Chair Salt Lake Chamber; Stuart Adams, Utah Senate (Jonathan Ball); Brad Wilson, Utah House (Abby Osborne); Kris Cox, GOMB; Theresa Foxley, EDCUtah; Miles Hansen, World Trade Center; Natalie Gochnour, Gardner Policy (Juliette Tennert); Jon Pierpont, Department of Workforce Services; Vicki Varela, Travel and Tourism; Kaitlyn Eskelson, Visit Salt Lake; Darin Mellot, CBRE; Ben Kolendar, Salt Lake City; Clark Ivory, Ivory Homes; Allison Bell, Congressional Delegation; Steve Starks, LHM; Don Willie, local chambers; Jill Remington Love, Arts and Nonprofits; Cameron Deihl, ULCT; Brandy Grace, UAC; Val Hale, GOED; Carine Clark, Silicon Slopes; Cydni Tetro, GEC; Steve Styler, Rural Partnership Board; Sarah Lehman, GEC; Scott Anderson, Zions Bank; Lori Pehrson, GEC; Craig Wagstaff, Dominion Energy; Brandon Fugal, Colliers; Scott Peterson, Utah Fund of Funds.