The Silicon Slopes Tech Summit that spanned from Jan. 31 – Feb. 1 in Salt Lake City brought over 20,000 attendees in celebration of a historic year for Utah’s tech industry. The milestone is a continuation of innovative leaps Utah has taken in just the past few years. Beyond exciting capital advancements, these leaps have meant expansion into international markets.
In attendance at the Summit was a delegation of prominent business leaders from Amman, Jordan. Interested in forging partnerships and identifying investment opportunities, Al-Qusour Academy, BEYE Group, Electronic Health Solutions International, HudHud Information Technology, Mawdoo 3, Newton Insurance and ZenHR Solutions – all tech companies from Amman – made the journey to meet with Utah’s industry leaders. As a longtime trade partner, Jordan is the gateway to the Middle East and its innovative technology industry is similar to Utah’s.
What motivated members of the Jordan delegation to attend the Summit was an earlier introduction to Utah business and government leaders on a state trade mission to Amman in 2017. Led by Gov. Gary R. Herbert and organized by World Trade Center Utah (WTC Utah), Jordan was selected as a location for a trade mission because of its strategic role as the crossroads of the Middle East-North Africa region, and delegates were interested in expanding into Middle Eastern markets. While in Jordan, the Governor and his delegation of 19 businesses met with key contacts, such as the energy minister of Jordan and leaders at the Port of Ashdod, while forging connections to increase collaboration between Utah and the Middle East.
Yousef Shamoun, President and CEO of ZenHR Solutions, hosted the 2017 Utah delegation in Jordan and was a member of the Jordan delegation in Jan. of this year. His experience working with and in Utah impressed on Shamoun insight into several key parallels between the economies of Jordan and Utah. “We both punch above our weight,” said Shamoun regarding our regions’ shared ability to exceed production and output expectations based on population. “When it comes to work ethic, I am most impressed with what I have seen from Utah’s citizens. It’s evident in every interaction I have.” Shamoun, who attended numerous summits in Silicon Valley in the past, plans to attend the Silicon Slopes summit in Utah each year going forward.
“Part of our mission is to lead Utah’s international business development and elevate Utah’s global status,” said Miles Hansen, president and CEO of WTC Utah. “We do this best by showing, not just telling, what Utah has to offer while making connections on our international trade missions.”
As part of the Utah delegation to Jordan in 2017, Jeffrey Hartley of Michael Best Strategies witnessed connections between various energy development project leaders and Jordanian Energy Ministry personnel. “Two of the meetings from Jordan stand out as among the most informative and helpful exchanges I have experienced in 22 years of working for and around government,” said Hartley. Another meeting included a face-to-face conversation between Gov. Herbert and the Energy Minister of Jordan. “Frank, honest, open and mutually beneficial conversations were had in both meetings. I have participated in four trade missions with WTC Utah, and all of them were excellent investments of time and money. The Jordanian trade mission stands out as the one I benefited from the most.”
Maintaining global outreach is key. A proactive approach to connecting businesses with international partners that match well with their overall strategies, values and goals will continue to build recognition and prosperity for Utah. Trade with Jordan is a win-win for both economies.