Lt. Gov. Cox advocates talking, looking,
and breaking down barriers at job fair
By Suzanne Dean
Oct. 12, 2017
EPHRAIM—State and local leaders need to “keep talking, looking and breaking down barriers” in order to attract jobs to nonmetropolitan Utah, Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox told a crowd of business owners, elected officials and educators during a stop on his 25-county jobs tour.
The lieutenant governor didn’t have any announcements about jobs moving off the Wasatch Front when he, with a caravan of state officials, arrived at Founder’s Hall in Snow College’s Noyes Building last Thursday, Oct. 5.
But he said he had been talking with heads of some of the high-tech companies located on the “Silicon Slopes” and elsewhere on the Wasatch Front about moving difficult-to-fill jobs to counties other than Utah, Salt Lake, Davis and Weber.
He also mentioned Lifetime Products of Clearfield, Davis County, which manufactures sports and playground equipment. Recently, the company has started manufacturing a picnic cooler that keeps ice and food cold for several days.
The Lifetime model costs about $150, compared to competitor models that cost more than $400. Demand has taken off, and Lifetime can’t make the coolers fast enough.
“They can’t hire enough people on the Wasatch Front,” Cox said. He said he had met with executives who told him the company might look at rural Utah.”
Cox, a native of Sanpete County from Fairview, visited his home county as coordinator of an initiative pronounced by Gov. Gary Herbert to bring 25,000 jobs to Utah’s 25 rural counties: an average of 1,000 per county.
Herbert has voiced that goal in both of the last two State of the State addresses. Since early this year, Cox has been visiting Utah’s 25 rural counties to promote it. The visit to Snow College was the 21st stop out of the 25 counties.
The tour is structured like a business fair; booths are set up where local people can learn about federal, state, nonprofit and private resources for growing local businesses.
Among the exhibitors at Snow were USDA Rural Development; the Utah Department of Workforce Service; the Governor’s Office of Economic Development; the Utah Science, Technology and Research (USTAR) program, which works to translate research at universities into commercial enterprises; and World Trade Center Utah, a nonprofit organization that helps Utah companies get into exporting.
In introducing Cox, who still lives in Fairview, Derek Miller, director of World Trade Center Utah, said that whenever the governor has a tough job, he turns to his lieutenant governor. “It really is a credit to a kid from Sanpete County.”
Cox praised the local response to the jobs tour. “To see a turnout like this in the middle of the day is incredible.”
In the past two years, Cox said, Utah has become the No. 1 economy in the nation.
“People are coming from all over the world to figure out what’s going on,” he said.
However, he said, there are more jobs than people on the Wasatch Front, and more people than jobs in the 25 nonmetropolitan counties.
“Manufacturing is coming back to the United States” from abroad because of the growth of online purchasing and the need to be able to ship products to consumers quickly, Cox added. “Rural Utah is the ideal place for that” (manufacturing of consumer products).
The lieutenant governor cited two resources Sanpete County offers to expanding companies. One is the environment and quality of life. “If you just walk outside today, you’ll see what I mean,” he said. “It’s as good as it gets.”
The other resource, he said, is Snow College. Snow President Gary Carlston, who was at the gathering, announced that the college, including the Ephraim and Richfield campuses, and high school students taking concurrent enrollment courses, has an enrollment of about 5,500.
Cox said that during one of the stops, a reporter buttonholed him and asked him to explain in one sentence why he was traveling around the state promoting jobs for rural Utah. His response: “We’re tired of exporting our kids. That’s why we’re doing it.”