Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Economic engines

The annual Washington County Economic Summit had taken on a somewhat gloomy atmosphere the past few years. It’s no secret the Southern Utah economy has struggled, and the most populous area for this part of the state needed a boost.

As we learned during the economic report presented by Lecia Langston, regional economist with the Utah Department of Workforce Services, the recession has technically been over for some time. And while it is true the economy is still not firing on all cylinders, it’s also true that it isn’t stuck in neutral any longer.

The overall message at this year’s summit — nearly universal from presenters and breakout session facilitators —was that the things are looking up for Southern Utah and that this region has a great opportunity to seize the moment and make itself an economic leader in the state.

No longer driven so dominantly by the housing industry, the area’s economy is on a slow but steady improvement trend. One way to bolster the recovery and add not just jobs but higher-paying jobs is by embracing the technology trend. As Fraser Bullock, the keynote speaker from Sorenson Capital, told the approximately 800 people in attendance, Southern Utah could become a “tech hub” if it utilizes its resources.

It seems that an emphasis on technology would be appropriate given the portfolio the state institutions already possess. Utah State, Weber State, the University of Utah, Utah Valley University and Southern Utah University all have niches. While many of them have technology-based degrees among their offerings, Dixie could play a huge role in helping develop not just the Southern Utah economy but the workforce of the entire state. The Spectrum