That was the mixed message from Chris Roybal of the Governor's office. He spoke as part of the Northern Utah Business & Economic Summit, here, Friday. "We'd like to see the average wage increase," he said. "We're significantly below the national average. Even accounting for large families, with two-earner families, we are about 18 points below the national average."
On a more positive note, Roybal provided "snapshots" of the state's experience at economic development growth, calling it "unprecedented." He said there was an in-migration, last year, of about 80,000 people, or roughly the population of Ogden. That included 40,000 births and the other half from newcomers moving in.
"That's the highest level in several decades," Roybal said.
Turning to tourism, he spoke of a new "branding" effort that includes $2 million that will be allocated to local tourist agencies, such as the Davis County Convention & Visitors Bureau and/or Davis County Tourism office.
"With the USTAR initiative, more money will be going to the research universities (Utah State and University of Utah). We hope a lot more money will be spun out in new technology, new businesses," he said.
Such efforts could benefit Weber State University, as well, Roybal continued, noting a board of trustees is being created for research technology.
Recruitment efforts to draw a "brain trust" to the state are reaching to such confines as Harvard University, he said.
That can all tie to the technology initiative locally geared to Hill Air Force Base-related businesses, Roybal said, which includes a reshaping of the Utah Defense Alliance toward a more business-growth mode as it ties into the base.
The new Simmons Entrepreneurial Center at the Davis Applied Technology College will also help spawn business growth and development, he said.
"We're also looking to reshape international trade," he said of state efforts. That includes an April trade mission to Mexico, as well as future trips to China and India.
"We'd like to help set an environment where you can add jobs," Roybal said. Davis and Weber counties are creating such a scenario with efforts like the start of light rail and the Legacy Highway.
"I think each stop (on light rail) will be an economic engine. Office, retail and residential development can all go there," he said.
The Governor's office would like to see tourism increase from 17 million visitors last year to 22 million.
He also recounted the success in funding achieved to bolster economic growth in the 2006 Legislature. That includes $90 million ongoing funding for transportation, plus $200 million one-time.
There's also a $160 million tax cut component, 2/3 of which has been completed, with the remainder anticipated to take place in an upcoming special legislative session, he said.
A $70 million cut in the sales tax on food, plus $20 million to benefit business, will be augmented by a drop in income tax rates from 7 to 5 percent, Roybal added.