SALT LAKE CITY — Great minds from the worlds of business and politics came together Wednesday for the Salt Lake City-based investment firm Peterson Partners’ annual Investor & CEO conference at the Montage Deer Valley. 

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice provided the keynote address, appearing on stage for a conversation with Joel Peterson, a founding partner in the private equity and venture capital firm. Also appearing on stage was Paul Ryan, former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Utah has played host to a number of significant leaders during the past week, including Vice President Mike Pence, the U.N. Civil Society Conference attendees and now Rice and Ryan. Rice spoke of foreign affairs and America’s critical role in it. Others pointed to Utah as a true crossroads to opportunity.

Attendees at the conference included more than 250 growth-stage CEOs and investors from across the country. Peterson Partners was one of the first private equity firms established in the state of Utah and has grown during the past two decades as the economic development of the Intermountain West region has continued to expand. 

“It’s great to be back out here in Utah to witness firsthand the economic growth that is occurring in the region,” former House Speaker Paul Ryan said. “I’ve always been impressed by the entrepreneurial and innovative spirit out here, and Peterson Partners has clearly played a big role in fostering that.” 

Founder Joel Peterson, chairman of JetBlue, has been a professor teaching courses in entrepreneurship, management and leadership at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business for 27 years. He reflected with the Deseret News on Utah’s growing reputation.

“When I first started teaching at Stanford, my students were surprised to learn that I lived in Utah,” Joel Peterson said. “That is not the case anymore. In fact, many of them are moving here for career opportunities.” 

He said Utah’s thriving economy and its robust institutions of civil society make it a dynamic laboratory of democracy and a wonderful place to start a business, work, play, live and thrive as part of a community.

“Our conference has been an excellent annual opportunity to bring together investors, entrepreneurs, and community leaders from inside and outside Utah to collaborate and share ideas about leadership and growth,” said Clint Peterson, managing partner of Peterson Partners.

Andrew Joiner, CEO of South Jordan-based InMoment, a customer feedback management company, said, “For many years Peterson Partners has helped entrepreneurs in Utah elevate and scale their business at the national level, and that is illustrated here at this conference.”

Events like Wednesday evening’s will continue to be important to Utah. Attracting global thinkers and leaders will help foster better solutions to global problems, promote entrepreneurship, drive economic development and remind the world that Utah is uniquely positioned to lead.