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Washington County's job growth is explosive

First, the bad news: Utah’s unemployment rate rose a tenth of a percentage point last month to 3.6 percent. Now for the good news: economists say the slight uptick means the ongoing economic recovery is encouraging more workers to reenter the jobs market.

Here in Washington County, unemployment dropped to 4 percent in June, the lowest its been since the Great Recession hit in 2007-2008. Even better news: our county’s job growth rate boomed to 6.3 percent last month. 

Utah consumer confidence hits all-time high

The St. George Spectrum recently noted that Utah consumer confidence has hit an all-time high. Consumer enthusiasm has been rising steadily over the past year, climbing almost 20 percent in that time.

The Spectrum reports that the Utah Consumer Attitude Index jumped another 6.6 points, up to 104.9, last month. 

Is sole proprietorship right for you?

For those who own a business or want to start a business in St. George, Utah.gov is an excellent website for entrepreneurs. It has informative sections on how to select a business idea, how to prepare a business plan, government requirements, relocating a firm, dissolving a business and running a business.

The website also has a section to help people begin the process of business entity formation. Included in the section is a note that each selection is accompanied by “very specific laws pertaining to the regulations with which you as a business owner are required to comply.” Unsurprisingly, the state acknowledges that their website, as fine as it is, might not be enough for people to make a fully informed decision on business structure.

Utah manufacturers looking for in-state suppliers

While Utah has a wide range of businesses, they often share common goals: reducing costs, saving time and improving the quality of their products and services. Utah manufacturers have long sought to meet those goals by finding in-state suppliers of needed parts and materials. In that way, they could not only enhance their own businesses and customers, but they could also reduce outsourcing and boost Utah entrepreneurs and communities, all at the same time.   

These common interests are what spurred development of the Utah Capabilities Assessment Network, an online connection between in-state manufacturers and suppliers. UCAN is a secure portal that enables manufacturers and suppliers to find each other easily and quickly, and to learn whether they have products, capabilities, capacities and certifications needed to conduct mutually beneficial transactions.

Going to the source on small business friendliness

If you want to know how to treat the flu, you talk to a doctor. If you want to know how to speed up a computer, you talk to an IT person. And if you want to know which states are friendliest to small business, you talk to a small business owner.

They’re the ones who understand small business formation, how to meet regulations, the hiring process and so on. And if they don’t know something about contracts or leasing or corporate law, they typically know an attorney who can fill in the blanks quickly and efficiently.

Kicking business into gear

Life is filled with challenges. Some challenges (pinning the tail on the donkey) are relatively easy to overcome, while others (starting a business) are much more complex and time-consuming. New business ventures also often require a substantial investment of funds to launch the enterprise.

For those budding entrepreneurs without a rich uncle or deep pockets, a new source of needed capital might be found online in crowd-funding platforms such as Kickstarter. In fact, Kickstarter has helped launch 1,762 Utah projects over the past five years with more than $18 million in pledges.

John Florez: Juvenile court's original intent reaffirmed

Kudos to the 2013 Utah Legislature for reaffirming the state's commitment to the original intent of the juvenile court — the minor's best interest and public safety. And the bill passed unanimously in both houses, led by Rep. Lowry Snow and Sen. Lyle Hillyard.

The passage of HB105, amending the Serious Youth Offender Law, represents Utah lawmakers' recognition that past get-tough policies in dealing with youth crime were often counterproductive. The original purpose of the juvenile court system, created in Chicago in 1899, seems to have been forgotten. Prior to that time, children who committed crimes were housed with adult criminals, mistreated, and left prison leading a life of crime they learned while in prison.

Utah cited as example to follow

Here in St. George, we understand the dynamics of Utah’s energetic approach to growing commerce because we live it every day. But out in Maine, our approach is something of a mystery to residents there.

The mystery was explained by the founder of the nonprofit Grow Utah organization recently at a business association’s meeting in Portland, Maine, to explain our state’s successful economic strategy.

Business deals are flowing across Utah

A Utah business networking organization has released its 19th annual Deal Flow Report, and the news for entrepreneurs in our state is overwhelmingly positive. The report notes 426 transactions last year involving venture capital financing, public offerings, and mergers and acquisitions worth more than $12.5 billion.  

“And the trend is continuing on an upward slope,” said a bank vice president involved in generating the report. 

Curtis Jensen Law Day

In 1958, President Dwight D. Eisenhower established Law Day as a day of national dedication to the principles of government under law. In 1961, Congress, by joint resolution, designated May 1 as the official date for celebrating Law Day.

The 2014 Law Day theme is: American Democracy and the Rule of Law: Why Every Vote Matters. This theme highlights the importance of voting and of ensuring that our nation’s election laws and practices permit the broadest, least restrictive access to the ballot box. When an eligible voter is deprived of the opportunity to cast a ballot, the harm is not only to that voter, but also to our government, which becomes that much less representative of the people. In a nation governed by democratic principles, every vote is vital.