July 2, 2012

Cover Story

Built to Lead

Perhaps no Utah governor in modern memory comes to the office with a broad...Read More

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Derek B. Miller

Jeanette Herbert

Spencer P. Eccles


Spencer P. Eccles

Executive Director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development

Steve Gooch

July 2, 2012

C2+E2 = Success. That’s a mantra that Spencer Eccles instills in his team at the Governor’s Office of Economic Development. It looks like math, but it’s actually a more human calculus that relies on interactions and relationships to create the conditions where Utah’s economy can grow. The Cs are cooperation and collaboration; the Es are efficiency and effectiveness; the success is Utah’s future.

Cooperation and Collaboration
“Teamwork and cross-collaboration are critical to the way GOED works to bring value to the state,” says Eccles. “In a time when the taxpayer’s dollar is stretched as far as it can go, it’s vital that we use every resource to its fullest. I stress to my team that if you don’t know another department’s resources, you can’t pull them into a situation when you need them.”

During Eccles’ tenure as executive director of GOED, he has veritably institutionalized collaboration. Teams and departments regularly attend the same meetings because they interface so closely on related matters. These meetings are often with companies seeking to relocate or expand their operations in the state. Because such an undertaking can be complicated and wide-ranging, meetings may include specialists from GOED’s incentives team, rural development experts, and a representative of one of the State’s seven economic clusters.

Connecting the Dots
But collaboration doesn’t take place only at the government level, says Eccles: “As a government agency, we have the power to convene.” What that means is that when a representative of the Governor’s Office calls, people listen.

Last year, Gary Harter, the director of GOED’s clusters effort, called on several of the state’s aerospace companies to discuss the trajectory of Utah’s aerospace cluster. Representatives from Boeing, ITT Composites and others met with a GOED team to discover what efficiencies the State might be able to assist with. Discussion turned to the supply chain, and ultimately resulted in Janicki Industries—a precision composites manufacturer that contracted with each company—expanding into the Utah market.

Future Prosperity
Economic development isn’t only about bringing already successful companies into the Utah ecosystem—it’s predominantly about building and developing the workforce of today and of the future. Building a better workforce means educating and preparing people to succeed in their chosen field, whether they’re an automotive mechanic or rocket technician (Utah has plenty of both).

“People are motivated when they see that there’s opportunity,” says Eccles. “Utah’s robust, vibrant economy means that companies in the state are doing good business. When that happens, they need to hire more people. Utahns are among the most motivated people in the country, which is why we have a 97 percent high school graduation rate.”

Education is so critical to economic development that GOED works with several other public and private entities as part of the Prosperity 2020 initiative. P2020’s aim is that two-thirds of all adult Utahns will have a college degree or skilled trade certificate by 2020.

Bringing it Home
But for Eccles, scion of the state’s well-known Eccles family, growing Utah’s economy isn’t just a job, it’s more of a personal drive. “My father raised me to leave things better than I found them,” he says. “The way we get to better is by working together and having a plan with tangible results.”

The ultimate tangible result, he says, is building a Utah economy where every person who wants a job, has a job. With a low unemployment rate, the state isn’t far off that goal. Getting across the finish line, however, requires educated Utahns and a business friendly environment.

Thanks to Spencer Eccles and his team at the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, that stretch goal is definitely within the realm of possibility.

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