Every six months the Utah State Chamber hosts a conference for all of the chambers in the state. This year the Summer Conference was held in Orem and hosted by the Utah Valley Chamber at Utah Valley University. The conference consisted of two days full of presentations, awards and so much more.

Day 1

Creating Productive Working Relationships with Your City: Mayor Michelle Kaufusi, Provo City; Mayor Richard Brunst, Orem City

Mayor Michelle Kaufusi of Provo City and Mayor Richard Brunst of Orem City both spoke about the importance of having a connection between local politics and chambers of commerce. Mayor Kaufusi said, “When one of us rises, we all rise, so let’s keep working together and help each other out.”

Defining Chamber Public Policy Priorities: Abby Osborne, VP Government Affairs and Public Policy

It is incredibly important for chambers of commerce to be immersed in politics and act as an advocate for the business community. Abby Osborne, VP of government affairs and public policy at the Salt Lake Chamber, stressed this in her presentation. She said, “We are the bridge between the public and private sector. It’s a great place to be.”

Working Lunch | Roots of Knowledge Gallery

Lunch was held in the Roots of Knowledge Gallery in the Fulton Library at Utah Valley University. The gallery is a permanent art installation that features the progression of knowledge through time. The stained glass display is 200 ft long and consists of 26 columns. Each column represents a moment in time and is adorned with examples of technology, communication, art, science and math. Hidden among the scenes are a few “easter eggs,” some of which include the Starship Enterprise from Star Trek (1966), Superman, Waldo and the Millennium Falcon from Star Wars (1977).

Keynote Address: Inland Port/Statewide Issues: Derek Miller, President of the Salt Lake Chamber and Downtown Alliance

Derek Miller gave the keynote address, discussing the future inland port, of which he is the newly named chairman, as well as statewide issues. He started the speech by discussing Utah’s strengths on the global scale. He told a story of someone outside of Utah asking him if Salt Lake City was near Lehi. This individual stated that, “Everyone knows Lehi.” Miller joked that people outside of Utah know Lehi because of Silicon Slopes, while people inside Utah know Lehi because of Footloose (1984). In regards to Utah’s economy, Miller said, “Fiscal prudence is the foundation of economic prosperity.” Another part of the economy’s success is our small business community, and that providing them with the necessary tools to expand their business is essential. Miller said, “In Utah, we recognize that our small business is international business.” This is why the inland port is crucial; it opens up an avenue for small businesses to reach their customers on a larger scale. Of course, no one can do this alone. In order to make the inland port successful, we must work together to make it a reality. In regards to teamwork, Miller said, “We collaborate well in Utah. It comes naturally to us.”

Tour of Evermore Creative Studios and Construction Site

Conference attendees were privileged to tour the Evermore Park, both the creative studios as well as the construction site. Evermore is a themed immersive experience unlike anything else. It brings fantastical stories out of the pages of books and into the real world. The park is a large stage and the guest is part of the story. Attendees were able to get an exclusive sneak peek of the location, as well as come face-to-face with some of the creatures that call Evermore home. Evermore is set to open on September 14, 2018.


That evening the conference attendees traveled to Sundance Mountain Resort where they enjoyed a barbecue dinner and a live performance of Oklahoma!

Day 2

Sarah Hodson, Executive Director, Get Healthy Utah

Sarah Hodson, executive director of Get Healthy Utah, spoke about health and wellness in the workplace. She provided tips on how to encourage healthier habits among employees and colleagues and how to promote a more healthy work environment.

U.S. Chamber Report: Vartan Djihanian, Western Region Manager, U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Vartan Djihanian, western region manager of the U.S. Chamber, addressed attendees with the U.S. Chamber Report. He discussed the basic functions of the U.S. Chamber in regards to the federal government and listed a few examples of their support. He also shared the importance of international business. He said, “95 percent of the world lives outside of the United States. In order for our economy to grow, we need to reach past our borders.”

Women Rock Business: 21st Century Entrepreneurship: Ann Marie Wallace, Executive Director, Women’s Business Center of Utah

Ann Marie Wallace, executive director of WBC Utah, presented on the importance and success of women entrepreneurship. Wallace said, “Women business owners are the fastest growing group of business owners… When it comes to entrepreneurship, women in Utah do really well.”

This year the Women’s Business Center of Utah has seen a lot of progress. They have had 421 attendees at 11 launch events, 45 “Jump Start” training attendees and are opening a second location in Cedar City. Not only are women-owned businesses good for the economy, they are also good for our community. According to Wallace, “Women-owned businesses have more family friendly benefits and that’s helpful to our communities.”

Non-Dues Fundraising Ideas/Tips on Grant Writing: Jen Parsons-Soran, President, Non-Profit Development Partners, Inc.

Did you know that America spent $410.02 billion in donations in 2017? 70 percent of that was from individuals while only 16 percent was from foundations, and a mere 5 percent was from corporations. In her presentation, Jen Parsons-Soran discussed grant writing and fundraising. She provided several avenues of fundraising such as special events, workplace giving campaigns, major gifts, corporate sponsorships, crowdfunding and grant writing. She also provided advice for successful grant writing.

Utah Lake Restoration Project Overview: Jon Benson, President, Lake Restoration Solutions

Utah Lake is the third largest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi. Several decades ago, it was the perfect place for recreation. However, that is not the case today. Jon Benson, president of Lake Restoration Solutions, discussed the challenges facing Utah Lake, solutions to these issues and the development in place to accomplish it all. Some of the challenges include evaporation, wind and wave action, aquatic plant loss, algal blooms, water quality, etc. One of the solutions is ecosystem restoration — specifically the creation of islands. The plan is to create three categories of islands in the lake; estuary islands to protect the shorelines, recreation islands for visitors and development islands for residential commercial use. While the answers seem simple, the action is anything but. The project is expected to cost $6.4 billion.

Is Your Chamber Ready to Live the New Brand?: Dave Kilby, President, Western Association of Chamber Executives

Dave Kilby, president of the Western Association of Chamber Executives, started his presentation with a simple question: “What business is the chamber of commerce in?” There was no answer. After a moment, he said, “I believe we are in the solutions business. We solve problems for our members.” He discussed the importance of a chamber’s role for its members. He broke it down into, what he called, “The 3 C’s for Chambers” which are as follows: to be a catalyst for business growth, a convener of leaders and influencers, and a champion for a thriving community. He also stressed the importance of a chamber’s brand. He gave several examples on how a chamber may successfully brand itself. He ended the speech with a profound statement. He said, “No community will ever be as good as its chamber of commerce causes it to be.”

Four Foods Group : Andrew and Shauna Smith

With several successful food chains across the country, Andrew and Shauna Smith have built quite the food empire in the last decade and discussed the importance of teamwork. Their ideal team is like the Ferrari pit crew who can complete their task within 2 seconds. Each team member knows their task, they’re prepared to complete it and they do so with precision. This translates directly to business and, if done well, can lead to success.

Chamber Awards

Each chamber was asked to present examples of their chamber’s work in the following categories. The conference attendees voted on the winners according to the examples provided.

Best Website: St. George Area Chamber of Commerce

Best Social Media Presence: Cedar City Chamber of Commerce

Best Weekly Communication Newsletter: Vernal Area Chamber of Commerce

Best Member Benefit: Cedar City Chamber of Commerce

Best Marketing Program: Box Elder Chamber of Commerce

Best Community Partnership: American Fork Chamber of Commerce

Best Engagement Practice: Park City Chamber of Commerce

Fastest Growing Chamber: Pleasant Grove-Lindon Chamber of Commerce