The Utah Global Forum took place in downtown Salt Lake City on Monday. It brought together shipping companies, trade experts, and small businesses trying to break into the global marketplace.
You might not think of Utah as a major hub for international trade. But at the Grand America Hotel in downtown Salt Lake City, representatives from giant shipping lines like Orient Overseas Container Line and ambiguously titled companies like Global Workplace Solutions gathered to talk about bringing more trade to Utah.
Natalie Gochnour is the Director of the University of Utah’s Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute. She gave one of the feature presentations about the potential to make Utah into what she calls an “inland port.”
“We call it the “crossroads of the West” and sure, it’s kind of a theme, but it’s actually quite true,” Gochnour said.
Salt Lake City is smack in the middle of the central United States. It has good railroad connections and the airport is being rebuilt. Gochnour says Salt Lake City could serve the same role that West Coast ports do with imports from Asia and distribution of all our online shopping products.
“You think of Amazon Prime, you think of eBay, all of this e-commerce that happens. Salt Lake City has the ability to create a lot of high paying jobs by both serving as an inland port and also serving as the warehousing, distribution, and transportation for those products,” she said.
Gochnour admits there are lots of unknowns if Salt Lake tried to become an inland port. The railroads would have to be improved, and traffic congestion and air quality could be an issue. But, she says, Salt Lake City’s location is ideal. It’s just a question of how much Utah wants to be a part of the globally connected world.