April 2020 Newsletter
Pictured: WTC Utah president & CEO Miles Hansen speaking at a diplomatic visit from the Ambassador of Saudi Arabia to the United States Reema Bandar Al-Saud hosted by WTC Utah. March 9, 2020.
WTC Utah Community,
I hope this message finds you healthy and hopeful in the midst of these challenging times. Many of you are familiar with a quote that has always meant a lot to me but has resonated in my mind constantly over the past few weeks: “Act now, so that a thousand years from now, when you look back at this moment, you can say this was a moment that mattered — this was a day of determination.”
We are all facing days of determination, in our families, businesses, communities, state and nation. I am so grateful to be a Utahn because I am surrounded by incredible examples of people rising to the occasion.
The daily stories from businesses across the state that inspire me are too many to retell here. I know all of us have experienced the same as we rally together to crush the curve and minimize the economic pain and disruption that individuals, businesses and communities are experiencing around the world. The Utah Leads Together Plan calls on all of us to “Protect the Hive,” and we’re certainly experiencing that.
Over the past few weeks, WTC Utah has recalibrated our programs and services to plug in and support Utah businesses through our free consultations, market research, B2B trade and investment matchmaking, grant programs and company trainings. What we’ve found is that as valuable as these services are for companies when the economy is strong, they are even more valuable and needed when companies are facing unprecedented challenges on all fronts. WTC Utah is leaning all the way in to support our businesses in their time of need.
Elsewhere in this newsletter, you will find links to the many webinars that Hannah Lowry and Julia Pappas have organized with our members and partners over the past three weeks to provide badly needed advice and intel to Utah businesses (Keep an eye out for emails where you can register for next week’s webinars on financing solutions for mid-market businesses with Divvy and advice for Utah’s smallest businesses with Lendio). You will also find an op-ed that WTC Utah Chair Scott Anderson and I wrote for the Deseret News to highlight what WTC Utah is doing to support Utah businesses during this crisis and how international trade and investment protects economies during economic disruption and accelerates growth in economic recoveries.
As part of the Governor’s Economic Response Task Force, WTC Utah was asked to organize a Federal Committee, which we’ve dubbed Task Force/FED. Working with key Federal departments and agencies, Utah’s Congressional Delegation, and our many state and local partners, we set out to maximize the number of Utah businesses that benefit from the many federal resources and programs that exist.
Task Force/FED built and launched a Rapid Response Team to provide assistance to Utah businesses as they navigate the complex regulations and processes to participate in Federal small business programs. In a perfect example of the collaborative spirit that is alive and well in Utah, the Rapid Response Team has grown to 50+ volunteers from ~15 organizations. At the end of its first full week in operation, the team has assisted 1,200 Utah businesses with cases requiring multiple engagements by a team member as they solve problems and provide solutions, not just pass along information. It’s important to recognize David Carlebach and Jim Porter for their leadership and ingenuity spearheading this effort.
The work they and the RRT are doing is making a profound difference in the lives of individuals here in Utah. Here is one example from Courtney Rae, who in addition to planning an upcoming innovative Virtual Trade Mission with high-level partners in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates is also volunteering on the Rapid Response Team:
This morning I spoke with a woman who had written in for help and wanted information on what she was eligible for. She runs four day care centers and is going to owe 43k in the next several months for her business. She loves the employees she has hired and is distraught to have lost them. She can’t pay payroll, payroll taxes, rent, or mortgage (among other things) and is devastated that all her hard work building her business is for naught. It is all gone. She had tried to get information and hadn’t been able to get answers on what loans she could get. I called her after receiving her inquiry from the RRT email and told her she was eligible for both the PPP and EIDL loans. She started bawling her eyes out and thanked me profusely. She was SO grateful. I couldn’t speak because I was fighting back tears and was trying to be professional. It was so amazing to be able to help someone so wonderful and to know her business could be saved and that we were there to support her.
Beyond the Rapid Response Team, Task Force/FED is working aggressively to collect information on federal programs, distill it to key data that each Utah business owner needs, and to push it out through the networks of the 16+ organizations that are a part of Task Force/FED as well as keep it up-to-date on coronavirus.utah.gov/business. Nicole Sherwood, on top of ramping up our grant activity to support Utah businesses, is leading out for us on the herculean effort to overcome the information overload by mastering the substance and communicating it in a clear, consistent way across the Task Force and the state.
As is apparent, I am proud of the work that each member of the WTC Utah is doing to not only do their core WTC Utah jobs but also step up in incredible ways to do their part to “Protect the Hive.” I am also deeply grateful for all of WTC Utah’s many members and our partners across the state and in Washington, DC that enable this work. Our commitment to you and to everyone in the state is that we will continue to treat each day as a day of determination as we do all in our power to drive growth for Utah businesses and our economy.
Stay Safe, Stay Home, and Keep fighting the good fight!