Utah leading nation out of economic downturn, Gov. Herbert says

Forbes magazine has ranked Utah as the fiscally fittest state in America, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert told guests at an event honoring the Bear River Association of Government’s 40th anniversary Tuesday. Utah’s use of rainy day funds, the government’s ability to make hard decisions and its goal to become financially efficient contribute to the state’s fiscal status, he said. Economic development, education and energy were all topics Herbert emphasized during his speech Tuesday. Herbert, who called himself the most traveled lieutenant governor of the state, said he knows it’s a hard economic time, but that overall the state is doing very well. Utah has a 7.4 percent unemployment rate, the highest it has been since the 1980s. Herbert, who said he is tired of hearing “gloom and doom,” said instead of focusing on the unemployment number, citizens should think about how many are employed.”The glass is 93 percent full,” he said.Job growth is back for the first time in 3 years, and Herbert said he believes it’s the result of good governance. The way to ensure recovery from the “Great Recession” is to grow the economy, Herbert said, and successful, long-term growth depends on educating the youth and equipping them to compete in the labor field.Rural Utah has energy resources that can bring money and jobs to the state, he said. The diversity in Utah’s resources, from wind power to coal, is an opportunity to create clean, affordable energy and to grow the local economy. Local government is where the “rubber meets the road,” Herbert said. He believes it’s important to for state and local governments to work together to see “what we have done, what we are doing and what we should do in the future,” he said. Local officials also spoke Tuesday evening, honoring BRAG and its services. Created in 1971, BRAG serves the Cache, Rich and Box Elder area, providing publicly funded services from regional planning to aging services.Cache County Executive Lynn Lemon said BRAG aids in the success of the local community and businesses. BRAG employees find federal funding for community projects in the area and have also created millions of dollars in jobs in the area with projects such as the Utah State University Innovation Campus.Cache County councilmember and chair of BRAG’s human services board Kathy Robison said BRAG supports three food banks in the area. BRAG has helped 4,000 low income families financially, gave 700 residents rental assistance to keep them from becoming homeless and will have weatherized 140 local homes by the end of the year. “There’s a lot more to BRAG than meets the eye,” she said.- rachel@cvdaily.com

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