Governor Gary Herbert challenged the state of Utah early this year to unite behind a common goal of creating 25,000 jobs in 25 counties outside of the Wasatch Front over the next four years.
The man Governor Herbert put in place to lead the 25k Jobs Launch Tour was Lieutenant Governor Spencer J. Cox, the eighth man in state history to hold that title.
Lieutenant Governor Cox visited Vernal as the last stop on the 25 county tour and hosted an address to citizens, elected officials, and business leaders alike at the Uintah County Civic Center November 8, laying out some of the ways in which the government and service providers will help facilitate diversification to create 1,000 jobs in Uintah County over the next four years.
Prior to the Lieutenant Governors address, he was introduced by President and CEO of the World Trade Center Utah, Derek Miller. Miller joined the Lieutenant Governor throughout the tour and is one of the key business facilitators that will try and help bring people and businesses together to create jobs outside of the Wasatch front and into the rural Utah communities.
"We've got a number of terrific sponsors," Miller said. "Including the office of the Lieutenant Governor, the World Trade Center Utah that I represent, Zions Bank, the Department of Workforce services, the Economic Development Corporation of Utah, the Governors Office of Economic Development, the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce as well as your local Vernal Chamber of Commerce and Duchesne Chamber of Commerce, the Utah Science Technology USTAR office and the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food."
Several local officials were in attendance and were recognized prior to the Lieutenant Governor's address, including county commissioner Duane Shepherd, commissioner Bill Stringer, senator Kevin VanTassel, Utah House of Representative Scott Chew and newly elected Vernal mayor, Doug Hammond.
One of the aims of the 25k job tour is for it to be locally driven with the support of local officials, which is critical for the implementation of policy and business friendly commerce, according to Miller.
"One of the things we have found is critical in the success of this jobs tour is that it be locally driven," Miller said. "A big part of being locally driven means having the support of your elected officials."
A myriad of service providers were in attendance, providing information on the types of services they provide.
The genesis of the 25k jobs tour was a simple idea of taking service providers in both in the government sector and private sectors to help business grow and expand, according to Miller.
"It's mostly what we hear about in the press when a big company is moving into the state or into your county, or into your hometown, but I was surprised to find out that less than two percent of job growth comes from corporate recruitment," Miller said. "You wouldn't think that when you read the newspapers, but ninety eight percent of job growth in the typical community comes from either new businesses starting in that community, or existing businesses growing."
Miller reiterated the purpose of the 25k job tour was to connect the community with service providers who can help accomplish the goals of growth and development in the Uintah Basin prior to introducing the lieutenant governor.
"In our lieutenant governor, we have an individual who understands rural Utah, who loves rural Utah," Miller said. "He does so not in theoretical sense, he does so in a very real sense because he's someone who grew up in rural Utah, who continues to live in rural Utah, who's made a conscientious choice to raise his family and grow a business in rural Utah."
Lieutenant Governor Spencer Cox took the podium with the collective applause of the crowd and began his speech, who once had the question asked to him, "Why Should I care about rural Utah?"
"I can't think of any reason, unless you care about your food, your water, your energy or your recreation," Cox said. "There's really no reason to care about rural Utah. That got his attention a little bit."
The Lieutenant Governor emphasized that rural Utah plays a critical role in the states economy. And that when we remind people on the Wasatch front that we are here, they actually want to step up to the plate and help us, he said.
"The state would come up with a brand new idea to solve economic development in all of rural Utah," Cox said, recognizing the fact this has been tried before with little results. "And they would give it a clever name and it was just this one size fits all."
Both Derek Miller and the Lieutenant Governor acknowledged the fact that each county on the 25k job tour is unique in terms of population and ideology.
"That top down approach just never works for economic development. It just doesn't," Cox said. "The State does have a critical role to play. The State has resources, resources that counties don't have. And we have the opportunity to convene people, to talk to people and to bring people together and to use those assets and those resources in a way that benefits you."
The Lieutenant Governor said the 25k job initiative was not the government coming in and telling the Basin how to grow the economy, but rather bringing in the resources they have and opening a dialogue with local elected representatives, asking, "How can we help?"