July 1, 2012

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Technology Industry Outlook

Utah Business Staff

July 1, 2012

LINDELL: I have a real micro view of this with one kindergartener. But I’m shocked by the amount of time she spends out of school. She had spring break for a week. She has next week off school for some sort of testing. She has to go in for two hours one day next week to get tested, and then she has the rest of the week off. I don’t ever remember having two weeks off during half a school year. I suspect it’s lack of funding.

R. HANKS: What does the state do today to publicize successful Utah companies? Could the state place articles, press releases, information in the national press about the successful Utah companies that sit around this table and other places? The goal is not success for our companies, but so that the people who are trying to hire will go, “Wow, Utah has very, fabulous, successful companies.”

K. JONES: I’ve been in the communications industry in the state for a long time and participated in some of the early days with Iomega and Evans & Sutherland and GOED to actually do one of the first CDs to get college students and business executives interested in coming to the state. I’m a Silicon Valley transplant. I’ve been here for 20 years now and love this state and consider it my home.

At that time I believe Mike Leavitt was the governor, and he really drove a communications initiative, and that’s where the drive does come from. GOED focuses on getting companies into the state, but they kind of touch on the employment considerations and needs in the state.

But in recent years I don’t think we’re seeing the state communicating as much as it used to. The state did at one point in time have an awful lot of traction with communicating success within the state. I think probably what’s happened is they’ve had a tremendous amount of success in recent years getting companies to move into the state, and perhaps they need to reenergize or focus on communications to people who would be great employees and talent in the state.

R. HANKS: One of the most interesting comments made so far was made by Tim: It’s OK that Adobe and Domo are stealing people because it develops the ecosystem. That happens everywhere else because when there are multiple companies, I can move there because if it doesn’t work out with this company, there are other companies that are hiring.

LINDELL: That’s our big issue with high-level, clinical geneticists. Where are they going to go if this job doesn’t work out for them? There’s almost no opportunity here.

J. HANKS: People have been talking about this impression of Utah for a lot of years. I’m working to recruit somebody to DropShip right now from Minneapolis. And he says, “I love the mountains.” But his number one concern is we’re a startup. If it all goes to hell, what do I do next? I pick up my family and move.

I actually know a lot about that. I’ve been with UTC for a lot of years. And I said, “Look, I can tell you about that piece.” I can actually speak to the vibrancy of the ecosystem from a lot of levels—start-ups all the way up to big successful companies. And so I can put my selling shoes on to that point, and I think I can overcome that.

The Department of Tourism did just an advertisement in a subway down in San Francisco. I don’t know if you’ve seen this. It’s a tunnel, and when you walk through it, it looks like you’re walking underneath the Delicate Arch. It’s spectacular. But what we do in Utah more often than not is say, “Come look at our arches.” Where is the “Work Elevated” campaign that says, “Don’t worry. The fourth-largest Goldman Sachs office globally is in Salt Lake City, Utah, et cetera.” That message doesn’t get out as much as it could.

LINDELL: I’ve traveled a lot around the world, and the only place I’ve ever been where I tell people that I’m from Utah and not get a weird look was Patagonia, where the rock-climbing god said, “You’re from Utah,” and I had immediate credibility. But I don’t think that’s what we’re looking for around this table.

J. HANKS: I’d like to circle back on the education question. Vance, you listed off these requirements, saying you’d hire 250 of them if you could find them. Do you believe K–12 or our colleges get any of those areas?

Sooner or later, somebody is going to innovate education rather than try to incrementally tweak it. I don’t think it’s going to come from the federal level, because that’s completely dysfunctional, or at the state level. Maybe it’s a private university somewhere. Somebody is going to realize that the entire paradigm of how we teach people today is based on a foundation that’s hundreds of years old, is completely broken and that just because I have a piece of paper doesn’t do anything regarding whether or not I can actually do a specific job.

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