Kimberly Henrie, Ph.D., took over as the deputy director and COO of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) in October. Before joining the agency, she worked at Salt Lake Community College, where she oversaw the school’s operational budget. Henrie has always believed Utah has one of the most business-friendly economies in the nation—and she aims to keep it that way through her role at GOED.
You’ve been at GOED for nearly six months. Have you made any changes?
Projects being implemented to further strengthen an already great organization include the development of a new talent management/career pathway project for GOED employees, updating and revising several program policies and procedures, and completing an evaluation and analysis of the organizational structure of GOED in order to better align the office resources to serve Utah residents.
What goals do you have for the future to continue bringing new business to Utah?
Utah currently has the fourth most diverse economy and is one of the most productive states in the nation. GOED remains committed to supporting key strategic industries including advanced manufacturing, aerospace and defense, information technology, finance, energy, outdoor recreation, agriculture, energy, tourism and film production. Additionally, GOED will continue to strengthen the collaboration with its partners, both public and private, to leverage the state’s assets in the most effective manner to demonstrate that Utah is the premier location for businesses to relocate and expand, supporting the great quality of life Utah residents enjoy for generations to come.
What is your elevator pitch for why Utah is the place for business?
Our regulatory and tax environment is predictable and stable. Partnership and collaboration are foundational values found in both public and private arenas. We speak more languages in daily commerce than almost any other business community in the nation. Additionally, with 665,000-plus students in the K-12 system, the state has a strong future workforce in place. All of this makes Utah a place where businesses not only want to be, but where they are choosing to be.
What do out-of-staters tell you surprises them most about Utah?
What I hear most from out-of-staters is they are surprised to find out that Utah really does have it all: quality of life, education opportunities, outdoor recreation, employment opportunity and mobility.
What are some of the challenges you face in your role?
A challenge facing all economic development offices nationally, including Utah, is the availability of a qualified workforce to not only help businesses grow, but to replace workers currently looking to retire. Utah’s low unemployment rate adds to this challenge. Utah is trying to get out ahead of the issue and is making strides in this area. Not only does Utah have the advantage of future workforce currently in its K-12 system, but the state has also taken efforts to ensure students have the opportunity to learn about STEM professions by creating the STEM Action Center.
What is your favorite Utah activity?
I enjoy skiing, fishing and camping in the amazing Utah outdoors with my family.