March 13, 2013

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Davis and Weber Counties

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Davis and Weber Counties

March 13, 2013

Another exciting thing is the growth of a trail system to connect all of our hospitality features, our amenities. We’ve got a park that’s being put in. The vision for that is to take a trail system and connect everything from the Hill Field area, the hotel, down to that part, and everything west of I-15 all the way up to capture in the retail that’s there. It would connect our conference center with our theaters, with the retail, with all of our hotels, with lighting and benches and amenities. It would create that experience and that flow and that walkability.

CURTIS: It’s not just that section, but it will connect with other trails within the county that will take you all the way to Salt Lake City.

RIDDLE: Talking further about tourism in Davis County, we’ve got 19 hotels and motels now and we’ve exceeded the 1,700 sleeping room mark, and over 350 restaurants and growing. We’ve also seen a 9.5 percent growth in our tourism taxes that were collected in 2012, with 7.6 percent growth in just the restaurant sector alone.

Antelope Island is the fourth most-attended park within the state park system, and they had a 3.73 percent growth in 2012. We’ve had some great success with recognition around Antelope Island State Park, hosting a Chinese delegation representing the Great Wall of China Society, which has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Antelope Island and Utah State Parks for a sister activity—us promoting the Great Wall of China, Jinshanling section, and them promoting Antelope Island.

M. SMITH: Our 2012 was very solid. We’re forecasting 2013 to be even better. We saw a return of a lot of business that had gone away for a bit and is starting to come back—state associations holding meetings and conferences, corporations doing the same thing, even some of our regional and national conference/trade shows with record growth. We had a month in 2012 that was the highest-grossing revenue month for the history of the conference center.

There’s a group called the Summit Group that has bought over a billion dollars’ worth of property from the old Wolf Creek property, and will close on Powder Mountain within the next few weeks. They already have the approval and funding to build a new lodge. They will bring in people in groups of 75 to 100 two or three times a month; this is just an incredible group of people.

LAWRENCE: I know these guys. Some of the attendees at these events are Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Clinton. So it’s going to bring a lot of really interesting people into Ogden and into Northern Utah that might not otherwise have been here.

U2 did an acoustic concert at their last meeting for about 80 people. Think of it as Camp David for entrepreneurs. It’s $10,000 a person. It’s invite-only. And they had them all around the world, and now all of their events are going to be up in the Ogden Valley. That’s a huge deal for us. There’s a lot of cool things down the road with that that you’ll want to watch.

As a state, we have taken on a great challenge in Prosperity 2020. The goal is 66 percent of our workforce to have a post-high school education by the year 2020. We are about 43 to 45 percent right now. Education impacts the state’s economy, all the way from pre-K to the universities.

MERCIER: As I’ve sat here and listened, I’ve heard several times, “It’s all about jobs.” Well, I’m here to tell you it’s all about education at a much more basic level, because if we don’t have a population that is educated and has the right skill set, we’re not going to be able to fill the needs for these jobs that we see are coming. We’re already beginning to see some of that happen, particularly at the technical education level.

The largest gap, in terms of education, is actually at the certificate level. Between now and 2020, we need another 153,000 people with a certificate. The numbers for a bachelor’s degree are about 151,000, according to the 2020 data.

Part of it is a mindset that favors a traditional four-year education. Get the certificate. Get some specific skills behind you as you work toward that bachelor’s degree. Now you have people with the best of both worlds. They have some specific, marketable skills to meet the needs of industry as well as a bachelor’s degree. That’s a really highly skilled individual that can really move forward.

It’s not going to be long before we’re in the same position we were in before the downturn, where we couldn’t put people out fast enough and they were taking them well before they were finishing their certificate—which means they’re not really skilled enough to move those companies forward.

Mike and I have a great relationship with Weber State University, and we’re really excited to look at how we can start to build more pathways, more connectivity between what we do at that technical certificate level and the four-year level. We need to build more bridges and we’re pretty excited about seeing some of the things we’re developing with Weber State continue to expand. We have more associate degree pathways now than we’ve had before.

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