New Year Brings New Faces to Government Leadership
The New Year is off to a quick start and I see 2010 developing into another successful year for EDCUtah. One of our greatest strengths for economic development statewide is our relationship with the public sector. Without the hard work of our elected officials and the efforts they make in economic development, we would not be able to boast the fantastic results we have seen over the last several years. It is the ongoing work communities do to maintain livable, lively, diverse cities and towns that time and time again lure site selectors and corporate real estate decision makers to Utah. I want to thank our outgoing mayors and city council members for their service. It has truly been a pleasure to work with you towards our shared goals. I would also like to welcome the newly elected mayors and city council members into their new posts as public servants. EDCUtah looks forward to working with you in the months and years to come.
I feel confident we will see the same level of partnership and teamwork in economic development.
I would also like to remind you that next week, on Wednesday, January 13, the Washington County Economic Summit, otherwise known as "What's Up Down South", will take place in St. George. This is the best opportunity to get a clear picture of economic development in Southern Utah. Plus, Senator Bob Bennett and Governor Gary Herbert will be speaking. I hope to see you there.
And be sure to join me at the EDCUtah Entrada reception before the Summit on Tuesday, from 5:30 - 8:00 p.m. Please RSVP to Eileen Burt. Today's Economic Review also includes links to many of the ED-related news stories from the past week. As always, if you have comments, suggestions or topics you'd like to see in the Economic Review, please contact us by clicking the "Comments" link on the bottom of this page. Enjoy!
President and CEO
In the News
Economic growth in Utah is still holding steady, report shows
The Utah economy held steady for the second consecutive month, a newly released report shows.
The next ten years: A sunny economic forecast
When Scott Schaefer paints a picture of Utah's economy over the coming decade, it has some cheery features: well-educated people working for businesses that chose to be here because of the state's many fine attributes, both natural and manmade, in a region that's bustling.
The next ten years: A mecca for innovation
Experts and amateurs alike tout Utah as an innovation and technology hub...
Allegheny Technologies to begin producing titanium this week
Two and a half years after it was announced and 19 months after it broke ground, Allegheny Technologies $460 million facility in Rowley will begin producing titanium sponge this week...
Farmington sees Station Park as sales-tax generator
Station Park, the shopping-and-office project coming together in central Davis County, will be a blessing to Farmington's tax cash box when it's finished, a city official says.
(Salt Lake Tribune)
Outdoors notebook: Utah lands another major winter action sports event
Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy will host the Western Nationals in ISOC Racing's AMSOIL Championship Snocross Series on Jan. 9. The first-time event is one of nine nationals on the 2009-10 schedule and the only one west of the Mississippi.
(Salt Lake Tribune)
What will the next year be like? 2011 looks promising
In the race to economic recovery, state economist Mark Knold sees Utah heading into 2010 in a tight relay with plenty of uncertainty ahead.
(Salt Lake Tribune)
Op-ed: Salt lake City's economic prospects are bright
The current economic turmoil and dislocation in our national economy have certainly upset many lives and businesses. And just as "no man is an island," the same is true for the Salt Lake City economy; we are not immune from the bug that has infected the rest of the nation.
(Salt Lake Tribune)
Delta, Northwest near to being one
At the end of this month, Delta Air Lines expects to hit one of the most significant milestones in its merger with Northwest Airlines, more than a year after the deal closed.
(Salt Lake Tribune)
Vancouver Olympics bringing publicity and money to Utah
The Vancouver Olympics bring a renewed interest in Salt Lake City. According to the Utah Office of Tourism, just before Christmas, at least $1 million was pumped into the economy because of it.
Danish giant acquires tiny West Bountiful firm; FLSmidth adds to Utah presence
A West Bountiful company that builds modular plants used in the precious metals industry has been acquired by FLSmidth, a Danish conglomerate known globally as a supplier of equipment to the minerals and cement industries.
(Salt Lake Tribune)
Higher ed chief looks back, ahead to good years
Record enrollment increases and shrinking budgets were the most significant higher education issues in Utah during 2009, according to Commissioner William Sederburg.
Huntsman appointment tops 2009 news list
President Obama's selection of Jon Huntsman as U.S. ambassador to China was ranked the No. 1 news story in Utah for 2009.
Convergys hiring for census jobs; Utah selected for the nation's largest call center
Convergys Corp. has announced a Census Bureau contract that could bring up to 600 jobs to the company's Ogden call center for the 2010 census.
(Standard-Examiner) (ABC 4)
January 13, 2010
13th Annual Washington County Economic Summit 2010 at the Dixie Convention Center. (St. George)
January 21-24, 2010
Outdoor Retailer Winter Market (Salt Lake City)
March 18, 2010
EDCUtah Quarterly Investor Update
March 22, 2010
Governor's Economic Summit
May 3-6, 2010
BIO (Chicago, IL)
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Meet Pat Richards, SelectHealth's New President & CEO
Last November, on Pat Richards' first day at the helm of SelectHealth, one of Utah's largest health insurance plans, the non-profit company of 800 employees was named among Utah's "Best Companies to Work For" -- its third consecutive ranking. "That was a pleasant surprise for me," she says, "and confirmed in my mind just how fantastic the organization really is."
Shortly thereafter, U.S. News & World Report and the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) ranked SelectHealth above all other Utah commercial health plans as part of its 2009 rankings for "America’s Best Health Insurance Plans." Earlier in the year, SelectHealth was rated higher than any other health plan in Utah by J.D. Power & Associates. SelectHealth provides insurance coverage to 410,000 Utahns and acts as a third-party administrator for an additional 102,000 individuals.
Utah's Top Commercial Health Plan
As SelectHealth's new president and CEO, Richards says she is pleased with the recognition as the top commercial health plan in Utah. "At the same time, benchmarking our performance against other leading health plans across the country provides us with an opportunity to focus our efforts on continuous improvement with a goal of becoming one of the top ranked plans nationally," she adds.
Before her arrival to the Beehive State, Richards knew that Utah and the intermountain region enjoy some of the lowest healthcare costs and best quality of care of any area in the country. "From an economic development perspective, we need to figure out how to tell that story better," she says. "Even so, more can be done to improve the healthcare industry. We have a strong team in place with a solid track record of accomplishments. I plan to draw upon those strengths to continue SelectHealth's tradition of excellence and focus on superior service. I firmly believe the future of healthcare for our nation is with integrated delivery systems such as the Intermountain Healthcare model, and I'm excited to be part of that organization."
In the two months since taking the helm of SelectHealth, Richards has identified three primary areas of focus:
- Superior service.
- Access to the highest quality care at the most affordable prices. Parenthetically, she says quality care isn't necessarily more care. "The model for quality care is evidence-based medicine, team coordination, and an organized delivery system," she advises.
- Continuous improvement of the health of our members and the community. "This can be achieved through outreach, through integrated medical and pharmacy benefits, wellness coaching, fitness programs, as well as other programs," she says.
"Healthcare is something we all take very personally. Most employers want to provide a competitive benefit package to their employees, and healthcare benefits are generally the most expensive part of the package," Richards says. "In addition to assisting our members by keeping our administrative costs among the lowest in the country, we can support employers by helping develop a healthy, engaged workforce. We can help create that culture of health."
Her organization is currently engaged in determining the best ways it can reach out to the community. She notes that SelectHealth participates in the Kids Premium Assistance Program, which helps subsidize insurance for approximately 1,000 children that do not qualify for assistance under other state and federal programs. What’s more, the company created a free program, called Step Express, to help fourth-graders build good health and fitness habits. Already, about 70 schools throughout Utah, representing about 5,000 students, are registered.
While national steps toward healthcare reform are still shrouded in uncertainty, Richards says SelectHealth is strong "because we are focused on the right fundamentals. There are gaps that need to be addressed, and good opportunities for improvement and reform in insurance, payment systems, and service and delivery, but we are well-positioned for whatever happens -- for whatever comes out of the reform debate."
This coming April, SelectHealth will move from its current location in West Valley City to a new facility in Murray, just west of Interstate 15 at 53rd South. Jacobsen Construction is the lead contractor on the new facility, which is expected to be LEED Silver Certified when complete. Of the move Richards says: "We wanted to be more accessible to our customers and insurance brokers and the new location is a perfect fit for us. We will also be able to host some community events there, as well."
Richards replaced Bert Zimmerli, who served as president and CEO of SelectHealth in an interim role when Sid Paulson retired in June to serve a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Prior to joining SelectHealth, Richards served as executive vice president and chief operating officer of Health Alliance Plan (HAP) of Michigan, an affiliate of the Henry Ford Health System. She previously held senior leadership positions at Anthem Health Plan of Maine, Paramount Health Care in Ohio, and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Ohio.
Coming to Utah
Richards began her career in healthcare as a staff nurse in general surgery and trauma at the University of Michigan Medical Center. She completed her studies in Nursing at St. Joseph's Hospital School of Nursing, affiliated with the University of Wisconsin, and has a bachelor's degree in Communications from the University of Toledo. She grew up in a working class family in Wisconsin. Richards and her husband, Joseph Beaumont, MD (a retired nephrologist), have four children. Her first trip to Utah came during the first round of interviews for the SelectHealth position. "I fell in love with the state then," she says. "Utah is stunningly beautiful and just great for my family. We are very excited to be here."
In addition to her role at the helm of SelectHealth, Richards also serves on EDCUtah's board of trustees and executive committee. "I am delighted to be part of EDCUtah's multi-stakeholder board," she says. "EDCUtah is a pretty exciting organization."