Latest Election Results     >

Brandon Fugal: Jon Huntsman’s ingenious plan to save Utah’s small businesses and double the economy

By Brandon Fugal, Chairman, Colliers Intermountain

Advertorial posted on KSL.com 

It is difficult to remember the last time a big idea was introduced in this state.

In a recent Republican gubernatorial debate, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman said it is time to stop thinking small. In an effort to bring big thinking back to our state, he has introduced an ambitious economic plan to double Utah’s economy over the next 10 years.

“This is all small ball,” Huntsman said. “The worst thing we could do is to think small. Utah has long been known as the crossroads of the West. But our state has a destiny. A destiny to become the crossroads of the world.”

Huntsman’s plan focuses on cultivating three hyper-growth industries in Utah: defense technology, financial innovation technology, and biotech/agricultural tech. Economic data and world trends show these will be the high-growth sectors of the next decade with the potential to bring hundreds of billions of investment to the state along with high-paying jobs.

By building upon Utah’s diverse economy in these growth sectors, the plan is designed to fuel Utah’s small businesses, families and communities while beginning a new chapter in Utah’s unfolding success story.

Here are five ways the plan helps small businesses:

  1. One key component of Huntsman’s plan is to make Utah a world financial technology capital. Establishing Utah as a financial technology capital will attract new investment dollars from across the globe, with a large portion of that capital going to home-grown startups. Startups are, by definition, small businesses. Financial innovation will also desperately be needed to help sectors that already play key roles in Utah’s economy like tourism, hospitality, restaurants and energy production that have been decimated by the COVID-19 response.
  2. Another key component of the Huntsman plan, The Strategic Defense Initiative, has the potential to create nearly 100 startups every year in Utah. This plan will engage Utah’s defense-related labor force that will want to live, work and raise families in Utah. Defense jobs pay 34% more than non-defense jobs[1], and these jobs are resilient against economic downturns. Growth in this sector will help all the small businesses in the surrounding area continue to thrive.
  3. Biotech/agtech is the third growth sector in the plan. Like with the other plans, Utah’s entrepreneurs and small-business start-ups will play a key role. The innovations coming from this sector will disrupt the healthcare industry, improve the quality of healthcare and reduce the costs that are born mostly by businesses and families. Huntsman’s plan will also create additional funding sources for education as biotech patents become part of a university endowment program. Rural agricultural producers will also benefit from the development of technologies that will help bring their operations into the 21st Century.
  4. The economic benefits of the Huntsman plan reach far beyond the target industries. With financial innovations and strong economic growth in sectors with high-paying jobs, there will be a demand for new buildings, homes and other long-term service industries. There will be a greater need for plumbers, framers, builders and electricians. Growth in demand for skilled trades will create demand for manufactured goods from Utah small businesses.
  5. Not all growth needs to occur along the Wasatch front. Utah startup companies built as a result of Huntsman’s economic plan can be incentivized to set up shop in rural communities with strong broadband capabilities in order to diversify rural economies and allow small businesses to succeed across the state. Increased economic development in rural counties will benefit the small businesses already in existence in these communities that are hungry for economic growth.

Huntsman knows we need immediate action to get us back on our feet. For this reason, he has introduced a short-term COVID-19 recovery plan. But recovery is not enough. By thinking big, committing to the doubling of Utah’s GDP over the next decade, and focusing on expanding economic sectors like financial technology, biotech, and a Strategic Defense Initiative, Utah’s economy will soar past where we were prior to COVID-19. Jon Huntsman wants to see the size of Utah’s economy grow from $180 billion to $500 billion in the next decade. With a plan this big, all of Utah’s small businesses will see growth, opportunity, and success like never before.