SL Chamber Announces October Economic Data

Today the Salt Lake Chamber’s Roadmap to Prosperity Coalition, in partnership with the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute, updated its Economic Dashboard for October to help business leaders know where Utah stands in the overall recovery. The Economic Dashboard is a tool tracking the state’s path to economic recovery from the pandemic recession and provides context for decision-makers.

“Our continued productivity and economic expansion during the pandemic with unemployment among the lowest in the nation is remarkable,” said Derek Miller, president and CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber and Downtown Alliance. “This dashboard shows we are on the right path from shock, to recovery, and now into a growing economy across several industries. Challenges remain for our hospitality and service sectors, but the broad nature of this recovery gives confidence that these parts of the economy will return. Utah continues to be a shining star of business and community leadership in overcoming the pandemic and its challenges.

Three essential insights from the November 2021 Roadmap to Prosperity Dashboard include:

  • Utah’s two-year job growth is highest in the nation. Utah’s September two-year job growth of 3.4% is the highest in the nation and one of only three states showing positive job change. 
  • Utah's unemployment rate drops below pre-pandemic levels. Using September 2021 data, Utah's unemployment rate of 2.4% is lower than the February 2019 rate of 2.5%. [Note: the October data show an even lower unemployment rate, 2.2%, the lowest ever recorded in Utah, and second-lowest in the nation.]
  • Job change is uneven across industries. While Utah has seen two-year job growth overall, not all industries have expanded. Jobs have declined in the Leisure & Hospitality, Other Services, Government, and Natural Resources industries.

“This report highlights the strength of Utah’s economic fundamentals across several indicators heading into the fourth quarter,” said Natalie Gochnour, director of the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute. “We still see a lag in leisure and hospitality, government, natural resources, and some services, but the strength of other indicators can be expected to bring these sectors along. With labor force participation growing and consumer confidence rebounding as shoppers head into retail season, our economy is on the right path and accelerating into year end.” 


Utah Unemployment Drops to 2.2%

In its latest employment report, the Utah Department of Workforce Services (DWS) reports a 2.2% unemployment rate for the state, its lowest unemployment rate ever recorded in Utah. The report tracks job growth from October 2019 to October 2021. As a comparison, the national unemployment rate is currently at 4.6%. Utah’s 2.2% October unemployment rate now stands as the second-lowest in the nation (Nebraska's 1.9% rate is currently the lowest in the nation). Utah’s two-year job growth at 3.4% is currently the highest in the nation. Utah is also one of only three states in the nation showing positive job change.

Since October 2019 Utah has added 58,500 new jobs. The private sector led this two year growth trend in jobs with eight out of ten of the state's major private sectors reporting gains: 

  • Trade, Transportation, and Utilities - 20,900 jobs
  • Professional and Business Services - 15,500 jobs
  • Construction - 10,800 jobs
  • Manufacturing - 7,900 jobs

In contrast, Leisure and Hospitality Services showed a decline of 1,200 jobs. Natural Resources and Mining also reported a loss of 1,200 jobs over the two year period.


Ten Utah companies Listed on Deloitte 2021 Technology Fast List

On November 17, 2021 Deloitte released its 2021 Technology Fast 500 list. Now in its 27th year, the list recognizes the most innovative and fastest-growing tech companies in North America. Ten Utah companies made the list, eight of which are located in Utah County and five from Lehi specifically.


Top 10 announced in the 2021-22 University of Utah Opportunity Quest

University of Utah Opportunity Quest, a collegiate business-model summary contest, announced the top 10 teams on November 18, 2021 for the 2021-22 competition. These teams will be competing for a chance to win $8,000 in cash prizes, including a $3,000 grand prize. The winners will be determined on competition day, Dec. 3, 2021. The competition is managed by the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute, a nationally ranked division of the David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah, and sponsored by Zions Bank. 

“I’m continually blown away by the quality of these student’s business model summaries,” said Brad Wilcox, student co-chair of Opportunity Quest. “This year’s top 10 is the strongest cohort I’ve seen in three years of supporting this program.”

Opportunity Quest competitions are held at colleges across Utah. Winning teams receive cash and in-kind prizes. The first-place winners advance into the top 20 of the Utah Entrepreneur Challenge, where they will develop a full business model and compete against students across Utah for $60,000 in cash and prizes.

The top ten teams in the University of Utah Opportunity Quest for 2021-22 are:

  • Aether Masks: A company that develops improved anti-fogging surgical masks.
  • Argus Entertainment/The 801 Concert Series: A DJ service and audiovisual production company.
  • Cortex Evolution: In-depth personal coaching sessions utilizing positive psychology.
  • Foam Laundry: A direct-to-consumer laundry service for students living on campus.
  • FoodsRush: An online marketplace connecting consumers and food establishments in order to eliminate food waste.
  • Mura: A science-based productivity wellness planner designed for students.
  • Nōmadik Living: A centralized platform of furnished apartments allowing users to live anywhere.
  • Sadie B Personal Care: A personal-care brand designed specifically for and by Gen Z girls to empower them.
  • T-Band: A medical device used to secure a patient’s arm during medication infusion to prevent needle complications.
  • Tribe: A mobile platform for team-based addiction recovery and self-improvement.


Utah VC Funding Doubles in 2021 - Pitchbook

On November 15, 2021, released data and a report indicating a doubling of Utah VC funding in 2021 thus far. From 2018 to 2020 Utah saw little change in investor funding, staying around $1.7 Billion for three years. But as of November 17, 2021, $3.4 Billion in funding has been invested in Utah Startups so far this year, according to the capital market research firm.

Pitchbook's data show deal numbers in Utah have remained similar since a dramatic spike in 2019 which counted 181 deals, 39 more deals than 2018. 2021 saw 165 deals, only 4 less than 2020. So, while deals have remained relatively consistent, funding has dramatically increased. 

By the first quarter of 2021, Utah almost matched 2020’s full year of funding with $956 Million, suggesting 2021 will wrap up wiht a record breaking funding number. 

Note: TechBuzz data indicate $14.21 Billion in 2021 to date for all financing, acquisition and exit activity happening within Utah's Technology Sector. In contrast, Pitchbook's dataset focuses solely on VC investment activity, hence the smaller number. 


Guard Dog Appoints Alexander Morrise as CTO

Guard Dog Solutions appointed Alexander Morrise, PhD, as CTO and Chief Data Scientist. In this position, Morrise will oversee data analysis, machine learning, and the advancement of the company’s Autonomous Incident Response (AIR) technology, which powers the Protective Cloud Services (PCS) Software as a Service (SaaS) solution. To support customers in a world where cyber security threats are continually evolving, Morrise will continue to drive the development of intellectual property to protect people, networks, and connected devices with ML system applications that can adapt automatically by recognizing and responding to threats and identifying vulnerabilities. In wired and Wi-Fi networks, Salt Lake City-based protects users against threats in Edge Territory, locations outside the perimeter of the network or on attached devices that other solutions can’t see, including the many IoT devices that now occupy home and business networks such as digital doorbells, smart refrigerators, and game systems.

“Alex Morrise is renowned in his authority and knowledge of AI and machine learning for cybersecurity and in its practical application in multiple market implementations for more than a decade,” said Chairman Adrian Wilson. “We are extremely pleased to welcome him to our executive team, and we look forward to our collaboration together.”

Morrise holds degrees in mathematics and physics from UC Berkeley, a doctorate degree from UC Santa Cruz, and has been a Fellow at Princeton, Harvard, and Stanford Universities, and was assistant research professor at USC, Spain.


In Memoriam - Brandon Dewitt, 1983-2021

TechBuzz celebrates the life of Brandon Dewitt, Cofounder and CTO of MX, who passed away on November 16, 2021 after a five year battle with cancer. Members of Utah's tech sector, the MX community, and people in the fintech industry shared heartfelt comments, memorials and videos about Dewitt's life and his many talents and contributions, including a profound tribute, show below, from Nate Bray, VP of Strategic Partnerships and Emerging Markets at MX. Rest in Peace, Brandon.


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