I have lived in the Ogden area my entire life and have the highest regard for my hometown. As I consider the past, present and future of our beloved community, I see only its greatness and potential to be an economic powerhouse.
My vision is of a vibrant city with numerous fast-growing companies employing hundreds of highly educated workers. I see creative titans of industry, like those of former years, who will launch dynamic enterprises that will make Ogden a prized business center. In time, other firms will be drawn to a magnet of promise and success.
We are definitely poised to usher in a new era of growth and prosperity. The key foundational blocks are in place. They are:
- Talented people.
Our community is fortunate to have very talented individuals who are prepared and ready to assume corporate leadership with a focus that will drive economic development. A recent Wall Street Journal article titled "Brain Gainers" cited Ogden as the 10th best city in the country for 10-year growth percentage increase in a college-educated population. The article also noted that a city's overall education level and supply of higher-skilled workforce are the major drivers of economic success.
I know area entrepreneurs who possess the competency and drive to create a new wave of industry. Several have launched fast-growing companies. Many are in the wings, waiting for the right moment to spring forward. Others will come to town to join in.
However, Ogden community leaders, both civic and public, working in cooperation with public and higher education, will need to magnify their focus, energy and commitment to educating more and more individuals who will enter the workforce. To accomplish our ambitious goals, companies will need access to a rich supply of highly educated people to fill the jobs that will be created.
- Great ideas for new businesses.
I am confident that there are talented people in Ogden who have identified market opportunities and are developing products and services to meet these needs.
I see scores of presentations each year from entrepreneurs who have stayed awake at night dreaming of the next great product. These are folks who have a fire in their bellies and an unstoppable urge to start and grow a company.
Some ideas will fail. Others will offer innovative and disruptive products and replace competitors.Still more will be revolutionary, creating new products buyers had never imagined.
Our community needs just a few great ideas that move from concept to commercialization. When they take off, with growing consumer demand, job openings will appear daily with companies seeking more and more workers to take care of business.
- Money for growth.
Growing companies need cash. Funding starts with the entrepreneur putting his or her own savings into the business. In time, family and friends bring their dollars to the project with a hope of a sweet return on their investment. Next will come help from a local bank that's ready to assist as entrepreneurs qualify for banking products, including a loan for working capital and growth. Other entrepreneurs will seek large investments from angel investors and venture capitalists to fuel more growth.
Ogden has access to these financial resources to assist emerging companies. Over time, more of these resources will be needed to sustain and accelerate an ever-increasing need for money.
- Community support.
No entrepreneur is able to start and grow a business alone. Startup companies need mentors and advisers who have grown companies and understand the intricacies of an industry. They need support from community leaders who value entrepreneurship by removing barriers and providing access to quality resources.
Ogden is fortunate to have a president at Weber State, Dr. Ann Millner, who has economic development stated as a university goal. She and her leadership team are committed to fostering an environment that will facilitate a spirit of growth through entrepreneurship.
In Matt Godfrey we had a mayor who worked tirelessly to provide a supportive ecosystem for new companies. I also know, having met with the new mayor, Mike Caldwell, that he and his administration will also support this noble cause. I note that the Chamber of Commerce, under the direction of Dave Hardman, will also encourage and assist this objective. In sum, entrepreneurs should feel comfortable knowing that they have the community behind them.
I am here for the long haul. I am personally committed to making a difference, through the resources I have, to improving the lives of the people in our community. I look forward to a rewarding journey.
Alan Hall is founder and chairman of Grow Utah, a not-for-profit entity with a mission of stimulating economic development through entrepreneurship.