Business & Labor

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.

Brian Grimmett

A couple of alcohol related bills managed to make their way through House committees Wednesday including one that would eliminate Utah’s so-called “Zion Curtain.”

HB228 eliminates provisions in Utah law that requires restaurants to keep open liquor bottles and the actual mixing of drinks out of public sight. Republican Rep. Gage Froerer voted in favor of the bill. He says the current law is an unnecessary obstacle.

Utah lawmakers are hoping to bring in millions of additional tax dollars from online retailers, but a bill being proposed might be in conflict with the U-S Constitution. Federal law currently allows the state to collect taxes from online retailers as long as they have a physical location in that state, like a store or distribution warehouse. Senate Bill 226, sponsored by Republican Senator Wayne Harper would empower Utah to collect taxes from some out-of-state online retailers.

The Utah House of Representatives voted Monday to allow restaurant patrons to order drinks before ordering food.  House Bill 218 would also make more liquor permits available for certain types of dining establishments. 

Under current statute, restaurant customers are required to order food if they want to order an alcoholic drink.  If they don’t, the restaurant may be fined 500 dollars, which happened to several Utah establishments recently.  Republican Gage Froerer of Huntsville says his bill will clarify the state’s policy and prevent future fines.

State Tax Incentives Back Hundreds of New Jobs

Feb 14, 2013

The Governor’s Office of Economic Development announced new tax incentives for three companies on Thursday.  One is doTerra, a company that makes essential oils – plant extracts that it sells through a network of independent distributors.  It’s promised to bring 330 new jobs to its company headquarters in Pleasant Grove in product testing and development, customer support and other positions.  For that, it will get 16-point-6 million dollars in tax credits over ten years.

After losing out on a contract with Salt Lake City to provide taxi cab service to and from the Salt Lake City International Airport, Yellow Cab taxi service is calling for the city to increase the company’s cab rates. But the Department of Airports, which is responsible for recommending rate changes to the Salt Lake City Council, says the request will not be granted.

Andrea Smardon

Entrepreneur Jim Sorenson has given the University of Utah $13 million to create a one-of-a-kind global impact investing center.  The Center will be part of the U’s David Eccles School of Business and will provide students with training and experience in social entrepreneurship. 

For Jim Sorenson, impact investing means doing good while doing well.  

This week a group of Utah physicians demanded a moratorium on mass transit fares for the remainder of the winter season, joining thousands of Utah residents who continually point to Utah Transit Authority as the key to the regions poor air quality. But UTA says the only way to realize increased ridership is to expand service, which can’t be done in the face of lost revenue. 

A disagreement between supporters of the Sundance Film Festival and a conservative think tank in Utah is raising questions about whether tax dollars should support the arts. The Sutherland Institute says some films screened at Sundance do not reflect Utah values.

Brian Grimmett

The Utah Transit Authority is holding public meetings this week on several proposed route changes and reductions. 

In connection with the start of service on the new Airport TRAX line in April UTA is proposing several route changes including eliminating routes in Salt Lake, Tooele, and Davis County. UTA spokesman Gerry Carpenter says he thinks for the most part these changes will be well received.

While Congress works to avoid going over the fiscal cliff, there is another deadline looming.  Emergency unemployment insurance benefits are set to expire Saturday unless Congress acts.  The US Department of Labor estimates this will impact over 2 million Americans, including about 4100 Utahns. 

The Salt Lake Chamber is trying to help Utah businesses rein in their healthcare costs.  They released their online guide Thursday called an Employer’s Tool Box.

Rich McKeown is chair of the Salt Lake Chamber’s Health Reform task force.   He told KUER the Employer’s Tool Box helps businesses exercise some degree of control over healthcare costs. 

Andrea Smardon

A market for locally made arts and hand-made goods opened Friday at Gallivan Center in Salt Lake City.   The Downtown Holiday Market consists of about a dozen festive red huts decorated with lights, and a large tent which houses numerous artists and crafts people.   Emily Cooper is a vendor selling framed drawings of owls.  Cooper told KUER that at the Market, it’s not Black Friday, it’s Plaid Friday.

Andrea Smardon

City Creek Center is hosting its first ever Black Friday.  No one is quite sure how much money the Salt Lake City shopping center will bring in this holiday, but expectations are high.

Linda Wardell is General Manager of City Creek Center.  When asked about expectations for the holidays, she laughed. 

“It’s a great question,” said Wardell, “We still have a lot of first-time visitors to City Creek Center.  That does make it unique for us, and a bit daunting for us when we start thinking about our first time holiday season.”

Park City Mountain Resort

A Third District Court ruling has cleared the way for two Park City ski resorts to head to trial over a disputed land lease. Their ruling, released on Tuesday, says that Park City Mountain Resort did in fact fail to renew their lease of the land owned by Talisker Corporation before it expired on April 20, 2011. While the court also dismissed several of the other actions Park City Mountain Resort brought against Talisker, it left the door open for the case to be taken to trial. Alan Sullivan, the lawyer representing Park City Mountain Resort, says that’s just what his client plans to do.

AG, Utah Businesses Talk Federal Immigration Reform

Nov 9, 2012

On the second anniversary of the state’s creation of the Utah Compact an agreement between local businesses and organizations that envisions a compassionate and economically positive solution to immigration reform, retiring Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff joined Utah business leaders this morning at the Salt Lake Chamber for a roundtable discussion on how Utah’s congressional delegation can push real immigration reform  on the federal level using the same principles espoused in the Utah’s compact.

Major construction on the Utah Transit Authority TRAX Line to the Salt Lake International Airport is wrapping up this week with testing scheduled to begin as early as next week. UTA officials announced today the light rail system will be officially open on April 14, 2013. Utah Transit Authority spokesman, Gerry Carpenter, says with commuter rail to Provo opening in December, all metro areas will soon be connected.

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