January 11, 2016

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Utah Valley Regional Roundtable

January 11, 2016

HOLMES: That challenge, though, presents opportunity for the non-traditional education, boot camp coding campuses, training and teaching how to code and program. That needs to be done at an elementary school level, and middle school, high school. With that tight workforce, along with the traditional universities, which are good, there needs to be other opportunities for education for workforce development.   

GARFIELD: We have a college town, a university town, but there are positions out there that are lower-income positions that are very hard to fill. So it does present challenges.   

FOTHERINGHAM: Actually, we have another source for the labor market, and that is the Mountainland Applied Technology College. We probably have had more people who are looking to come here comment on the strength of our MATC here in the valley or the ATC program in the state generally than we have on the universities. And the MATC here is growing faster than any of the other ATCs in the state.

CALDWELL: One of our biggest problems is labor. You know, everybody's college educated. Everybody wants to be an entrepreneur. And we're looking for roofers or plumbers or anyone who can run a backhoe, and that's not available. It’s really going to change our industry in the near future. It's a huge demand right now and I don't see anything making it better in the near future.   

PILMER: All of this growth is going to spur a lot of byproducts, including air pollution. I know the mayor and the Clean Air Task Force are doing some things to figure out the impacts down the road. But yellow snow doesn't sell really well. So we've got to keep our quality of life public persona—not just the PR of it, but the real deal—we need to keep it clean and get it cleaner if we anticipate all this growth coming to our valley.

LOCKHART: Well, you have to be careful because there's a balance. And we have some of the cleanest air we've had in the last 150 years in this state and in this valley right now. So we can talk about this all the time. But there are just some things that can be very punitive that can cause actually us to kill the golden goose instead of getting it to lay the golden egg.   

CURTIS: In Utah County our biggest source of air pollution is automobiles and not business. Much of that is education and helping people understand the ways driving impacts air quality. But I'll tell you what, if you're recruiting somebody into your business, or a business into the valley, and it happens to be an inversion day, you're dead.   

LOCKHART: But 20 years ago it was even worse. In fact, when I came to BYU 35 years ago, we would get a layer of ash on our cars every morning from what Geneva Steel would produce all night long. Things have gotten a lot better. It's just that we have more people living here, so they're demanding more and for us to do things better. If you want to really clean up the air, you have to start imposing restrictions on who can drive and when they can drive. And people just aren't going to put up with that.  

How do we perpetuate our culture of innovation and entrepreneurialism?

ROSSI: We have several groups within the community that are trying to foster entrepreneurship. We have Lehi Startups. We have the Silicon Slopes group. And we have these VCs who are coming in who are recognizing that. We've had $667 million invested by VCs in the first three quarters of this year.   

LOCKHART: IM Flash has just invented a product that is a thousand times faster than our previous flash memory product. We're just starting to produce it in our Lehi factory. And our competitors are just blown away by it. The customer base that buys flash memory, which goes in just about every piece of consumer electronics that we have, they can't wait to tap into the power of this new technology. Just to make one flash memory chip, there's like 3,000 patents in each chip. So not only is it happening on an entrepreneurial level with innovation, but it's happening in some of the largest companies in the world right in our own backyard.   

SCOTT: We talk a lot about innovation, but how many companies in Utah are fully employee owned? Are you willing to make your employees owners in it? There's 103 people in Fishbowl, so they watch where payroll is going. And they make different decisions. Because if you don't feel accountable for that innovation, you can build the flash drives but do you really care if it brings back a profit? They need that ownership. If they're just renting, we all know how renters treat a house. But if it's their house and they own it, they're going to sweep the carpet a little more.   

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