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S.L. Chamber displays vision

When writing about the new American West, author Wallace Stegner saw two types of people: the "boomers" and the "stickers."

The boomers move into an area, make money, then move on. They often leave a wake of woe.

The stickers, on the other hand, make money, but they also make a stand. They move in, put down roots, put up buildings and show a vital interest in community affairs.

Fortunately, the Salt Lake Chamber today is made up of first-rate stickers.

In a session with the Deseret Morning News editorial board this week, the chamber showcased its top three concerns: education, transportation and downtown renewal. And the thinking in all three cases takes the long view.

Traditionally, "taking care of business" has meant maintaining the status quo. Business people don't like surprises. It's hard to gauge the market when things are in flux. But to its credit, the Salt Lake Chamber is not standing pat. In an attempt to head off crises before they occur, the chamber is willing to take some controversial positions that many might see as "risky business."

In education, for example, the chamber is pushing to allow the children of undocumented workers to pay resident tuition to attend college. The thinking is that business needs educated managers, and it makes no sense to pay for the schooling of immigrant children up to a point and then wash them out. We find that stance economically responsible and morally wise. It is a position, however, that likely will rankle leaders who look for more immigration "purity."

In transportation, the chamber worries about traffic flow — especially in the west valley. It even hints that a tax increase may be needed to help sidestep bottlenecks. The key will be smart planning and getting an early start — two ideals that both business and government can embrace.

Finally, as for downtown Salt Lake City, chamber president and CEO Lane Beattie claims people need to realize that "downtown" entails much more than Main Street. The Gateway is also downtown. So are other urban pockets. The chamber hopes to find ways to blend the many elements that go into inner-city urban life.

Whether one agrees or disagrees with such initiatives, the chamber should be commended for its boldness. The era of a "cheerleading chamber" is giving way to a chamber interested in finding solutions to problems before they have a chance to fester.

And to that, we can say "hurrah."