ST. GEORGE — Though Daniel Royal is new to the role of director of corporate growth and business development at the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, he’s not new to Utah. He has worked various roles within the office itself since 2012.
Royal was an intern then and has been steadily climbing the ladder. He was an incentives analyst before joining the Utah Governor’s Office of Energy Development in 2016.
“I learned a lot during that time,” Royal told St. George News.
Then, he accepted a position with the Charleston County Economic Development Office in South Carolina. After three years in that position, he received a call asking him if he would be interested in coming back.
“My predecessor was moving into the private sector,” Royal said. “And he reached out to see if I’d be interested in returning to Utah. Of course I was. I missed the growth.”
Royal said that he’d visited Utah in 2019, and again in 2020. “Everything looked so different each time I visited,” Royal said. “The streets and the skyline had changed.”
Southern Utah growth
As those in Southern Utah are discovering, growth is a double-edged blade. While growth is fueling economic opportunities it’s also creating challenges. Driving through St. George, for instance, reveals that many businesses are hiring
Royal said that one of his primary goals is to help Utah grow sustainably and responsibly.
“A drive down Interstate 15 will show you what growth looks like,” he said. “We need to ensure cities and counties are not overwhelmed by the growth.”
The Governor’s Office of Economic Development has established a number of growth targets, Royal said. Chief among them is bringing industry to the state, and developing rural areas.
“We’re trying to encourage businesses to look beyond the Wasatch Front when they want to move to the state,” Royal said. “We want them to commit to employing untapped workforces in those areas.”
The Economic Development Tax Increment Financing tax credit program, for instance, led to a record number of new high-paying jobs being added to the state’s economy in 2020. Companies like CaptiveAire, which relocated to St. George, have taken advantage of the program.
According to the Utah Department of Economic Development’s web-site, 21 companies participated in the EDTIF program in 2020. They are “collectively projected to create 13,364 new jobs,” according to the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development.
But what about low paying jobs, like the ones that St. George employers are struggling to fill?
“Wages definitely play a role in filling those jobs,” Royal said. “So do quality of life incentives, like offering a culture where people feel like they belong, like they’re appreciated. Workers need to feel a sense that there’s opportunity for upward growth.”
Places like Cedar City and St. George are well-situated to see continued growth, Royal said.
“St. George’s proximity to a regional airport works in its favor,” Royal said. “And being near universities and technical colleges is also good. Employers who can to find a way to tap into that stream of new workers entering the market, as well as retirees who may be looking to rejoin the workforce, will be in a position to thrive.”
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