Business & Labor

Whittney Evans

Salt Lake City’s downtown farmer’s market opens for its 23rd summer season this Saturday. And one local vendor is preparing for another busy year.

It really is a family affair at The Soap Lady’s house in Sandy. Kathy Wawrzyniak’s kitchen is brimming with pots and freshly baked loaves of soap.

“Well I have my sister Michelle and she just does everything,” Wawrzyniak says. “She’s concentrating on wrapping, making sets today, but she helps me make soap and does pretty much everything. I have my niece in the back. She does bath bombs today.”

File: US Chamber of Commerce Foundation

Utah has received more top 10 economic rankings than any other state in the country. That’s according to the Enterprising States 2014 report released Wednesday at the US Chamber of Commerce Small Business Summit in Washington. Governor Gary Herbert was part of a panel discussion at the summit on closing the skills gap.

File: Office of Gov. Gary R. Herbert

Gary Herbert was among several western governors and U-S Interior Secretary Sally Jewell who signed an agreement to recognize the importance of tourism on federal lands and waters. The memorandum of understanding, or MOU, is between members of the Western States Tourism Policy Council and a variety of Federal Agencies. Vickie Varela is the managing director of the Utah Office of Tourism. She says fostering public/ private partnerships is one of the key areas of cooperation.

Ending months of speculation, Jon Huntsman Sr. acknowledged today that he is interested in buying the Salt Lake Tribune.  

Bob Nelson

Sugar house Park above 13th East and Hidden Hollow Park are now officially connected by Parley’s Trail. A couple hundred people including residents and government officials gathered this morning Friday for the ribbon-cutting ceremony of The Draw at Sugar House. Utah Democratic Congressman Jim Matheson recalled just starting out in Washington when a coalition people from the Salt Lake Valley first met with him with this huge urban trails project.

The number of people getting food assistance from Utah’s SNAP program has significantly declined over the past two years. State officials credit improvements in the economy and employment, but some advocates for the poor say it also has to do with work requirements that make it harder for people to receive benefits.

Nic Dunn is a spokesperson for Utah Department of Workforce Services, and when he looks at the decline in SNAP caseloads, he sees evidence that the state is climbing out of the recession.

The push to promote local products made in Utah is expanding into rural areas. Tooele County hosts its first ever Utah’s Own Summit on Friday to help small food-oriented companies expand their business, add jobs, and improve rural Utah’s economy.

Brian Grimmett

Governor Gary Herbert and Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams helped break ground for a new 2.3 million square foot industrial storage and distribution campus Thursday in West Valley City.

The new facility located off of the 21st South freeway is projected to bring as many as 3,000 new jobs to Utah. Freeport West is developing the location. They already own and manage more than 10 million square feet of property in the state.


The state liquor commission may not let Snowbird Ski Resort serve beer at its annual Oktoberfest this year. The Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control board laid out tighter guidelines this week for granting single-event permits to businesses. Snowbird’s General Manager argues that move could affect business as well as the community.

Bob Nelson

The Zions Bank Consumer Price Index increased 0.1 percent in April compared with March on a seasonally adjusted basis. Aaron Anderson is a Director at the Cicero Group, which conducts the survey for Zions. He says transportation cost increases including the price of new cars were the driving force behind the up-tick.

Bob Nelson

Former President of Mexico Felipe Calderon delivered the keynote address Wednesday at the Zions Bank 13th Annual Trade and Business Conference. Calderon served as President from 2006-2012 during what he calls the worst economic crisis in human memory. He recalled the saying; when the United States gets a cold, Mexico gets pneumonia.

Park City Mountain Resort

Utah Third District Court judge Ryan Harris has issued summary judgments in favor of the Talisker Corporation and Vail Resorts in their case with Park City Mountain Resort over a failure to renew their lease in 2011.

The Utah Transit Authority is moving forward with installation of surveillance cameras on buses despite the transit union’s claim that the move is a violation of the collective bargaining agreement.

UTA officials say they are spending more than 2 million dollars to install surveillance cameras in a fleet of 600 buses in order to improve passenger safety and transit efficiency. Attorney Joseph Hatch represents the transit union. He says drivers should have a say in how these cameras are used.

File: Screen Shot Sundance Film Festival Web Page

The overall economic impact of the 2014 Sundance Film Festival amounts to $86.4 million for the state of Utah. The University of Utah’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research conducted the independent study. The report released today also found the annual January event provided $34.1 million in earnings for Utah workers and supported 1,434 full and part-time jobs during the festival.

Andrea Smardon / KUER

Tooele County citizens met Wednesday night to talk about the possibility of letting Stericycle build a new medical waste incinerator in the area. After a series of informational meetings organized by Stericycle, this town hall was organized by residents.

The meeting at Stansbury High School was organized by Katrina Hill of Stansbury Park, who says she’s never done anything like this before.

Courtesy of Joe Lieberman

Joe Lieberman left the U.S. Senate last year after representing the state of Connecticut on Capitol Hill for more than two decades.  During that time he served as chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee and on the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee.  Lieberman will be in Salt Lake City next week speaking at Zions Bank's 13th annual Trade and Business Conference.  KUER's Terry Gildea talked with the former Senator and Vice Presidential candidate about Utah’s economy and the state’s role as an international trade partner.

It’s been 145 years since the ceremonial “driving of the Golden Spike” connected the Union and Central Pacific railroads at Promontory Summit in Utah. In this year’s commemoration, the role of Chinese laborers in building the transcontinental railroad will be recognized and celebrated.

Gloriaricardi via Wikimedia Commons

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is prepared to start regulating electronic cigarettes. But advocates say the proposal would be detrimental to consumers and businesses.

The FDA’s plan is to classify electronic cigarettes, a personal vaporizer that delivers nicotine as a tobacco product. This means merchants will be banned from touting the devices as a safer alternative to traditional combustible cigarettes.

Tord Sollie, Flickr

As Governor Herbert declares May Utah Golf Month a new report also shows the industry has a larger than expected impact on the state’s economy.

A group concerned about the future of the Salt Lake Tribune submitted an ad to both of the city’s daily newspapers to run on Saturday morning. But readers won’t see it in the Deseret News. 

File: League of American Bicyclists Screen Shot

Utah’s bicycle-friendly ranking is in the top ten in the nation for the first time ever. The League of American Bicyclists traditionally marks the beginning of National Bike Month by releasing its rankings. Utah moved to #8 compared to 2013’s #14 ranking. Each state gets a ranking based on a level of achievement in the 5 “E’s”; engineering, education, encouragement, enforcement and evaluation.

File: Bill Ingalls/NASA, via Associated Press

Alliant Techsystems announced it is merging the majority of its holdings with Orbital Sciences. The company is best known in Utah as ATK with operations in Magna, Clearfield and Promontory. A company press release says the 1-point-seven billion dollar deal involves spinning off the parent company’s Sporting Group.

The struggling fiber optic network UTOPIA may be partnering with a private company to offer high speed internet access to every home in the 11 participating Utah cities where it operates.  Australian investment firm Macquerie Capital has released a proposal to fund UTOPIA’s overhaul. It would require city-wide utility fees from every household in the network.

Bob Nelson

The monthly Consumer Attitude Index from Zions Bank increased by 3.7 percent from March to April. The Wasatch Front Consumer Price Index also rose by 0.7 percent. The Cicero Group conducts the research for Zions. Cicero’s CEO Randy Shumway says while the improving attitude index is causing some concerns about inflation, the state is not close to any real problem with that. He says crossing this attitude index milestone puts the state economy on track to be running on all cylinders by the end of the year.

The number of Utah women in CEO or corporate board positions is the 3rd lowest in the nation. The findings released Wednesday are from a Utah Valley University study titled “The Status of Women Leaders in Utah Business.” The report shows of the 228 companies surveyed, only 4.8 percent (11) have female chief executive officers compared to 95.2 percent (217) male CEO’s. That’s nearly 10 percent lower than national figures for women in business.

A taxicab alternative e-travelers hail with a smartphone app will be available in Salt Lake City starting at seven o’clock tonight. Two companies called Uber and Lyft have announced plans to expand here, but city officials say the companies must first comply with safety and fair business rules.

Photo Dean via Flickr

Utah’s unemployment rate for March ticked slightly up from February to 4.1% but that isn't necessarily a bad sign. The rate increased two tenths of a percent from February’s unemployment rate of 3.9%. But Utah Department of Workforce Services Economist Mark Knold says it’s actually a sign that Utah’s economy is improving.

Utah has some of the highest payday lending rates in the nation. That’s according to a new report released this week from the Pew Charitable Trusts. The research indicates that a state’s limit on interest rates is the key factor driving loan pricing. Utah is one of seven states where there is no legal limit.

A new building for the next generation of entrepreneurs is coming to the University of Utah. The Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute announced today a 12 million dollar gift from Pierre Lassonde. Mr. Lassonde, a French Canadian mining entrepreneur with an MBA from the U, says his donation will be used to create a new facility where students will live, create, and launch new enterprises.

File: Utah Department of Agricultre and Food

The “Utah’s Own” line of locally generated products are going to be a prominent feature at the 8th Annual Governor’s Economic Summit Conference opening Thursday in downtown Salt Lake City. The unique public/private effort to promote the Utah brand is run through the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food.  Jed Christenson is the director of marketing and economic development at Utah’s Own. He says their recent poll of 150 members shows an average increase of almost four jobs per company through the recession.