By Val Hale

Utah has one of the best economies in the nation. The state is currently ranked No.2 for “Best State for Business” by Forbes magazine and has been ranked No. 1 six out of the last nine years. One of Utah’s secrets to success is unprecedented partnerships — public-private partnerships (P3s), to be exact. The willingness for companies and nonprofits to partner with government leaders to solve problems and create a better place to do business leads to unlimited possibilities for the state.

There are many examples that demonstrate P3s that address change. From transportation to education, air quality and corporate recruitment to spurred need infrastructure. P3s are adding value, creating innovation and solving complex challenges. With private sector expertise, P3s yield a more innovative result that saves taxpayers significant amounts of money — a win-win.

Nothing is more important to businesses than education. Three years ago the Aerospace industry came together with the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development to discuss a workforce shortage in the state. Partnering with education, GOED and industry were able to build a new certification that employers and educators could both agree upon.

Today, the Utah Aerospace Pathways program allows students in high school, as well as adult learners, to receive aerospace training. Industry partners have reviewed and helped write the curriculum for this program and provide externships for students. Many individuals have been employed because of this program filling the talent pipeline. Industry and education continue to partner and the best part: students have the opportunity to explore an industry that piques their interest. In most cases, pathway students graduate high school with post-secondary credit, certifications and hands-on experience.

The Utah Aerospace Program was so successful that it evolved into an initiative named Talent Ready Utah. Since then, GOED, industry and education have introduced pathways programs in the diesel tech, medical innovation and tech industries, and new programs are being developed in construction and outdoor recreation. Students now have greater access to explore careers and be better prepared for their future.

Other examples of public-private partnerships in education include teaching coding to elementary school students, Cummins Rocky Mountain donating 24 engines to high school students studying to be diesel technicians, Women Tech Council providing female mentors to girls interested in the tech industry, and Wasatch CAPS where students complete various work projects for local employers. The state of Utah and its workforce benefit from these types of programs to keep the talent pipeline strong.

Another example of public-private-partnerships elevating business in Utah is found in rural economic efforts. While the Wasatch Front is experiencing unprecedented private sector job growth and low unemployment, some of the state’s more rural communities lag behind. As a call from Governor Herbert communicated during his 2017 State of the State Address, the Governor’s Office of Economic Development is partnering with industry, education and others to create meaningful relationships that can employ valuable resources in the state’s communities. As part of this initiative, the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development rural team is working towards a goal of creating 25,000 jobs off the Wasatch Front by 2020.

Opportunities to expand P3 in rural Utah occurred during the last General Legislative Session. This includes the Public-Private Partnerships SB 204 and the Rural Economic Development Initiatives. They promote business expansion in rural Utah to create new positions and provide opportunities for skilled remote workers. There are multiple ways to engage in publicprivate partnerships that build workforce, infrastructure and capital in rural communities.

Utah is a better, stronger state economically and socially when the business, community and nonprofits choose to partner with government to tackle critical issues. There are hundreds of examples of public-private partnerships. Government cannot and should not solve all challenges in our communities. However, when businesses and the public sector join forces, that synergy is stronger and more successful than either entity’s sole contributions.

Executive Director, GOED
GOED’s mission is provide rich business resources for the creation, growth and recruitment of companies to Utah and to increase tourism and film production in Utah.