Strengthening Utah’s Economic Fabric

By Alan Christensen, Ephraim SBDC Director

As noted in a recent Salt Lake Tribune news article, Utah’s governor, Gary Herbert said, "You can’t have continued, sustained economic growth and expansion without a skilled labor force.”  Thus, the current legislative discussion about funding for education and workforce training.

This is a valid concern since Utah is attractive as a location for corporations considering expansion as well as new startup ventures.  The state of Utah also leverages funding from the U.S. Small Business Administration by providing support for the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) program.

The Utah SBDC’s 2012 Annual Report showed that, statewide, the SBDC network worked with over 2,600 business clients in direct counseling as well as over 3,600 in organized business training programs.  The result of these client businesses’ efforts was 1,696 jobs added to Utah’s economy according to a third party economic impact study document evaluating outcomes of the Utah SBDC program.  From a governmental fiscal analysis standpoint, the same study showed a benefit-to-cost ratio of the program of 4.43 to 1.  This means that for every tax dollar expended on the program $4.43 of tax revenue was generated by client businesses.

Henry David Thoreau is oft quoted for saying, “I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by conscious endeavor."

Education and training is one of the most fundamental means of elevating one’s capacity for success – this is also true for companies.  Nearly every challenge faced by a small business, whether due to internal factors or external environment, can best be mitigated with actions resultant from optimal knowledge and skill regarding the matter.  This is the intent of the counseling services and business training programs of the Utah SBDC whose mission is to “strengthen Utah's economic fabric and quality of life by facilitating the success and prosperity of small business endeavors.”

In a recent presentation to members of the legislature that included information about non-credit instruction and training from programs on their campus like the Utah SBDC, Snow College president, Scott Wyatt, said, “We’re spending a lot of time trying to build the economy in our region.  We feel like that is one of the most important things that we should be about.”

Utah SBDC clients appreciate the valuable guidance they receive from certified business analysts of the Utah SBDC program.  Likewise, the Utah SBDC appreciates the support they receive from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development and individual colleges and universities, to make it all possible.  It is both an efficient and an effective use of taxpayer dollars to dovetail business education and training with workforce development efforts.