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Gov. Herbert Unveils Utah Leads Together 4.0 Plan

FILE: Gov. Gary Herbert.

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Governor Gary Herbert unveiled the new Utah Leads Together 4.0 plan, designed to boost the economy and get more people back to work through infrastructure improvements and job training.

“I have here hot off the presses a copy of Utah Leads Together volume four,” Herbert announced. “This latest version lays out the foundation for recovery. That’s the essence of volume four here.”

The plan lays out a long-term roadmap and lists priorities for recovery over the next 100, 250 and 500 days.

“Central to volume four though — I can’t overemphasize this enough — is the imperative that Utahns continue to take personal responsibility on the directions that are being asked of them,” Herbert said. “Proper hygiene, social distancing and wearing a face mask.”

Derek Miller, president and CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber said, “Safety is integral throughout each component of the plan and must be central to all of our activities and efforts to catapult Utah back to the economic summit.”

The Next 100 Days

Volume four created a new campaign called “Stay Safe to Stay Open.” It calls on Utah businesses to take a pledge to follow those often-repeated social distancing and hygiene guidelines.

“Those businesses that take the pledge will receive signage for their businesses and consumers who see the Stay Safe to Stay Open signs can have confidence that those businesses are following state health guidelines,” Herbert said.

The official Stay Safe to Stay Open website launches next week, but businesses can prepare now to take the pledge at StayOpenUtah.com.

Officials said another focus over the 100 days is to return Utah to full employment.

Miller said even though unemployment numbers are currently tragic, 77 percent of those individuals currently on unemployment are still attached to a job.

“Helping businesses to reopen safely is the best way to get people back to work,” he added.

The final focus on the next 100 days is helping those without immediate work prospects connect with the many job openings in the state.

“The Utah Department of Workforce Services is going to be charged with working with unemployed Utahns to align worker skills with available jobs and providing employment for over 21,000 Utahns through a bill will be discussing over the next couple of days,” said Brad Wilson, Utah House speaker.

That bill is one of two that takes $50 million from the federal CARES act to help targeted businesses and will be taken up in the special session that starts later this week.

The Next 250 Days

The 250-day plan will pivot the state from stimulus and recovery to laying the groundwork for economic expansion through the use of bonds for infrastructure and human capital investments.

It includes six areas of focus:

  1. Transportation such as new highway capacity construction and expanding the network of electric vehicle charging stations.
  2. Transit such as double-tracking the Utah Transit Authority’s FrontRunner and additional bus rapid transit systems.
  3. Active transportation and outdoor recreation would focus on projects that will increase quality of life in urban communities and bring jobs to gateway communities.
  4. Water quality would include financing additional wastewater treatment and sewer facilities and improve dam safety for drinking water
  5. Broadband is an area that can address social inequities.
  6. Housing would address a shortage of up to 50,000 units.

The 250-day plan also lays the groundwork to reskilling workers faster, easier and more affordable. That would be done in four ways:

  1. Strategic investments in short-term training programs designed to meet the immediate needs of key industries.
  2. Expanding flexible apprenticeship programs, that will fit the needs of businesses.
  3. Providing a voucher program to Utahns who want to attain post-high school certificates, credentials and degrees.
  4. Providing vouchers for one-year graduate programs to make reskilling faster, easier and more affordable.

The 500-Day Plan

The 500-day plan actually prepares the Utah economy for the next 5,000 days and beyond.

Theresa Foxley, CEO of the Economic Development Corporation of Utah said, “This part of the plan builds on our understanding of where the world economy is headed.”

Foxley said that means Utah needs to focus on what infrastructure will be required to support megatrends in automation, machine learning, augmented reality and cybersecurity.

“We also need to be prepared for new shifts of this pandemic…like shorter and smarter supply chains, remote work, food quality, food security and air quality,” Foxley said.

Herbert thanked the people of Utah at the end of the conference, saying, “What we see over this time of crisis is like cream rising to the top. Good people of goodwill throughout our state rise to say what can I do to help?”

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