Business & Labor

Poverty in US suburbs is on the rise, but especially in Utah. A new book released Monday shows that the number of people living in suburbs below the federal poverty line has more than doubled in three major metropolitan areas in Utah over an 11-year span. In fact, the Salt Lake City area ranked number 3 in the nation for fastest growth in suburban poverty. 

Unemployment in Utah dipped to 4.7 percent last month, the state’s lowest rate since November 2008. Utah also added more jobs, prompting Governor Gary Herbert to declare the recession over in the state. 

Utah’s job growth in April was 3.5 percent, more than double the national average. Over one year, 43,000 jobs have been added. Juliette Tennert is Chief Economist in the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget. 

Utah’s business mergers and acquisitions reached an all-time high last year. That’s according to a report from the MountainWest Capitol Network to be released on Thursday this week. 

The 2012 Deal Flow Report shows that there were 292 deals, topping 11 billion dollars.  Of those, 110 were mergers and acquisitions of Utah companies. Devin Thorpe is President of the MountainWest Capitol Network, and he says 2012 deals increased more than 60% over the year before.

In a four-to-three decision the Salt Lake City council adopted the Sugar House Streetcar alignment recommended by a consulting firm the city hired to study the project. In other words, the second phase of the streetcar will be routed north on 1100 east despite fierce opposition. But members of the council who favor that route say it’s in the best interest of the city as a whole to move forward.

Sugar House resident Mark Unruh says he doesn’t understand the council’s decision.

Senator Orrin Hatch on Tuesday filed 24 amendments to the comprehensive immigration bill put forward by a group of Senators known as the Gang of 8. Hatch’s amendments focus on law enforcement, high-skilled work, health benefits, and back taxes. 

Speaking in Salt Lake City last week, Hatch told KUER the immigration bill would substantially improve border security, but he said there’s more work to be done. 

After a nationwide search Governor Gary Herbert has appointed Carlos Braceras as the new director of the Utah Department of Transportation.

Braceras has worked for UDOT for almost 27 years and until today’s appointment had spent the past 12 as UDOT’s deputy director working directly under former director, John Njord. Braceras says as the new head of UDOT one of his main focuses will be to create better relationships with local communities.

Andrea Smardon

Senator Orrin Hatch spoke about immigration reform in Salt Lake City Wednesday at a Zions Bank client event. He praised the 844-page comprehensive legislation put forward by the group of Senators known as the Gang of 8, but stopped short of supporting it. 

Andrea Smardon

A pediatric medical device company has relocated from Silicon Valley to Salt Lake City. It’s called Fixes 4 Kids, and it recently launched its first device, designed to improve how elbow fractures are treated in children.

Once upon a time, a broken arm meant a bulky white cast covered in classmates signatures. But in the future, it will be a sleek, black customized orthosis. 

Kennecott Utah Copper

  Kennecott Utah Copper is making plans to get the Bingham Canyon mine back in operation after a huge landslide two weeks ago.  Company spokesperson Kyle Bennett says they have a 40-day plan to look at containing costs but also keeping the ore moving to the smelting and refining facilities.

Bob Nelson

Homeowner advocates are calling on John Stumpf, the CEO of Wells Fargo Bank and bank shareholders to review the mortgage servicing and foreclosure practices of the bank. The bank’s annual shareholder meeting is in Salt Lake City Tuesday. The group Neighborhood Economic Development Advocacy Project joined other advocate groups at the meeting to present a joint resolution. Josh Zinner is NEDAP's co-director.

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One of the nation’s top commerce officials was in Utah today admiring the state’s economic development strategies and touting the president’s new initiative designed to bring high-tech manufacturing and clean energy jobs to communities across the country. 

U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank toured Hexcel, a company in West Valley that produces structural materials for aircraft and space vehicles. Blank says Utah has explicitly built the infrastructure necessary to attract this type of industry and create jobs.

Salt Lake City officials unveiled the design scheme for the city’s new 2500 seat, Broadway-style Theater. It’s sleek and modern, but designers say they didn’t lose sight of the city’s surrounding historic architecture. 

Cesar Pelli is the lead architect for design firm Pelli Clark Pelli. He says the design scheme includes what he calls the city’s existing DNA. The New Performing Arts Center will be located on Main Street in downtown Salt Lake City, just south of City Creek Center.

Kennecott Utah Copper

The early estimates of the size of the Bingham Canyon mine slide show that more than 165 million tons of rock and dirt have slid into the bottom of the mine. That makes this slide the largest to ever happen there. Kennecott Utah Copper spokesperson, Kyle Bennett, says it will have a large impact on their yearly copper production.

"The 165 million ton slide does translate, unfortunately, into a reduced production of refined and mined copper of about 50 percent,” he says.

Andrea Smardon

Utah’s first Microsoft store opened its doors Thursday at City Creek Center. Customers were greeted with high fives and cheers at the door. Some came for the giveaways and free concert tickets, but Kelly McClean of Salt Lake City says she came out of curiosity. 

“I’d never heard of a Microsoft store before, so I thought I’d come and check it out,” McClean says. 

Utah State Law Library

More Salt Lake City residents are recycling glass since curbside pickup started last fall. Today city officials celebrated the grand opening of a new facility that will increase the city’s capacity to process the glass and yield a more sustainable end product. 

Kennecott Utah Copper

Ground movement at the Bingham Canyon Mine resulted in a landslide last night. The slide occurred around 9:30 p.m. on the North side of the mine near where the visitor’s center was previously located. Kennecott Utah Copper spokesman Kyle Bennett says all employees at the mine are safe and accounted for. All work at the mine has also been suspended until geotechnical experts get a better assessment of the situation.

The new TRAX line that transports riders to and from Salt Lake International Airport is scheduled to open this Sunday. Reporters were invited to ride the train this morning. 

Imagine flying into Salt Lake City for the first time, exiting the terminal, boarding a train and taking in a view of the Wasatch and Oquirrh Mountains at 60 miles per hour.  Steve Meyer, Chief Capital Development Officer for Utah Transit Authority says that’s a great way to enter the community.

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The Ogden-Hinckley Airport Control Tower will stay in operation at least until June 15th following a last minute decision by the Federal Aviation Administration on Friday. Federal budget cuts due to sequestration are threatening 149 similar operations across the country because contractors run the towers. Royal Eccles is the airport manager in Ogden. He says his issue isn’t so much with Congress as it is with the FAA.

Business leaders in Utah say they’re disappointed in the state’s two U.S. Senator’s for trying to delay comprehensive immigration reform while the economy suffers. But Republican Senator’s Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee say they’re not ready to back a catch-all bill, especially if it contains a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

Congress returned from Spring break this week with immigration reform at the top of the agenda. Salt Lake Chamber President and CEO Lane Beattie says for members of Utah’s delegation to say they need more time is ridiculous.

Salt Lake City officially launched its much-anticipated  bike share program today. It’s called GREENbike and it offers unlimited short-term trips between stations scattered across the city. 

GREENbike is not quite a rental system. With memberships ranging from $5 a day to $75 a year, users pick up a bike at one of the solar-powered kiosks. But instead of chaining it to a corral or storing it at an office, the user returns it to the nearest kiosk for someone else to use. 

Bob Nelson

The latest sales figures for median-priced single-family homes and condominiums in Salt Lake County shows a 20 percent increase compared to the same time last year. It’s a seller’s market, according to Dave Frederickson - President of the Salt Lake Board of Realtors. He says the number of homes on the market is limited right now. In particular, homes in the median price range of $250,000 and below are selling quickly.

The largest health system in the state of Utah has agreed to pay the Federal government $25.5 million to settle claims that it violated laws governing physician referrals and payments. But an official with Intermountain Healthcare says they didn’t realize they were in violation of the law until after an internal review.   

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is expanding a program into Utah that is aimed at helping rural counties escape the grasp of persistent poverty.

The new StrikeForce Initiative brings together agencies within the USDA in an attempt to better coordinate efforts to spur economic development in rural counties. Dave Conine is the Rural Development state director. He says by making knowledge and resources available through things like micro-loans that they’ll be able to make a real difference.

Utah Transit Authority fare increases took effect today; much to the chagrin of riders. It was the last in a series of increases UTA approved in 2011. 

There are few certainties in life. But one thing is clear; no one likes to see prices go up. Mia Mora uses public transportation a few days a week. She says the 15 cent hike won’t price her out of a commute.

“As long as it doesn’t get any higher than that," she says. "But if they keep raising it….”

Mora says she already struggles to afford a day pass or multiple transfers.

Bob Nelson

The higher price of a gallon of gasoline was the driving force behind a marked increase in the Wasatch Front Consumer Price Index or CPI last month. The Cicero Group released the latest figures for Zions Bank today Tuesday. Cicero’s CEO Randy Shumway says gas prices affect everything.

“Since the average Utahn spends about 18 cents of every dollar on transportation, says Shumway, that has a big impact on inflation in the state.”

As City Creek Center celebrates its one year anniversary, the nearby Gateway Mall is standing its ground and making new investments. 

The Gateway has lost about a dozen stores to City Creek Center.  But The Gateway’s General Manager Scott Bennett says the outdoor center for shopping, dining, and entertainment is doing just fine. 

Salt Lake County is expanding its small business loan program with some financial backing from commercial banks. The fund supplies higher interest loans to businesses that would be otherwise ineligible for traditional bank loans.  

Brian Grimmett

The Zion Curtain  - the barrier shielding restaurant customers form the preparation of alcoholic beverages - will stand this year, despite attempts by state House members to tear it down.  But some changes to alcohol laws did pass, including the ability for restaurant chains to get a single master liquor license. 

A bill that would require some out of state internet retailers to collect sales tax from Utah customers narrowly passed the UTAH Senate  this morning. But if SB 226 becomes law it could be challenged by the Justice Department.

Federal law prohibits Utah from collecting sales tax from online businesses unless they have an office or storefront in the state. SB 226 would expand the rule to include remote retailers who use local advertisements or forge other local agreements.

A state Senate committee voted Wednesday to push back the start date for Utah’s guest worker program by two years to give Congress a chance to work on comprehensive immigration reform.  

Utah’s guest worker program was set to go into effect this July, but Republican Senator Curt Bramble of Provo introduced Senate Bill 225 to postpone the implementation until 2015.  Bramble told the Senate Business and Labor committee that Utah’s guest worker law was designed to pressure the federal government into reforming immigration policy.

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