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New division chief eager to increase jobs in Utah

Robert C. Fuehr is ready to start work Monday in what he calls "an interesting hybrid of business and government."

Fuehr is the new director of the state's Division of Business and Economic Development, which is part of the Department of Community and Economic Development. Appointed by Gov. Mike Leavitt, Fuehr replaces Rick Mayfield.

The Board of Business and Economic Development on Friday concurred with the appointment, with members lavishing praise on the selection.

Fuehr said he looks forward to his work in the division. "The overall goal is pretty simple: grow the number and quality of jobs, whether it be through attracting new companies or expanding those existing in the state," he said.

Fuehr's background includes stints with AT Ohio Bell Telephone Co.; MediaOne Group; US WEST Media Group; US WEST Multimedia; and US WEST Communications in Salt Lake and other locations.

His Utah experience includes "post-retirement" work that involved an 18-month commitment with Salt Lake's Suite Technology Systems Network, also known as STSN, which makes computer network systems for the hospitality industry. His community activities include serving on the board of directors of Zions First National Bank and the board of trustees of the Utah Information Technology Association. He is a past board member of the Salt Lake City United Way.

"I keep making these forays into retirement, and each time I make a foray into retirement, great opportunities come up," Fuehr told the board.

David Winder, executive director of the department, said 38 people inquired about the position and 25 submitted applications.

"We wanted someone plugged into technology and someone who would be able to sell Utah and work with the state's high-tech companies," Winder said. "We believe he is an extremely well-qualified person."

Board members used "terrific" and "wonderful" to describe the selection. "An exceptional choice, probably beyond what our expectations were," Dell Loy Hansen said.

"We're fortunate to get him at this point in his life," Richard Nelson said.