In response to Gov. Mike Leavitt's economic development plan, the Utah Division of Business and Economic Development has released its philosophy and operating policy that makes some changes from past procedures.
Rick Mayfield, division director, said one of the major changes is that the state wants communities to decide what they want to become, do appropriate planning and then use state programs and other resources to achieve their goals.Regarding the business community, the policy says the division is to serve industries as a whole instead of individual businesses. "This should not be construed to mean we do not work with individual businesses but rather our primary target is industry as a whole or industry clusters," the policy says.
"With existing staff levels it is difficult to work with individual businesses within the state. It is felt that day-to-day work with individual businesses should be accomplished at the local level with local officials and economic developers," Mayfield said.
Shortly after the governor took office, he met with Joseph A. Jenkins, Utah Department of Community and Economic Development executive director, and identified three basic roles for the division.
They are: advocating a general business climate that encourages business to grow and operate profitably; engage in economic development activities where economies dictate that state programs make more sense than local programs; and provide resources to communities and businesses that will help reach objectives.
Another concept was added by the governor later and that is locally driven economic development is the best. Mayfield said the Small Cities Program and Metro Utah money are being examined to make certain economic development is boosted in all areas of the state.
Within the division, the Business Expansion and Retention Program was combined with the Rural Development Program and renamed Business Development. This office's major mission is to carry out Leavitt's mandate of keeping a good business climate so business can grow.
The office also has the responsibility of directing the manufacturing extension program, agribusiness, facilitating the department's role in the Smart Utah program and assembling a state business data base.
The Centers of Excellence Program has been changed to the Technology Development Program and is under review by a task force. Mayfield said the task force is expected to release a report soon. Meanwhile, the staff is trying to overcome the controversy of the program in the past year, Mayfield said.