As President and CEO of the Utah Valley Chamber of Commerce Val Hale challenges 60% of businesses to donate to education, and not just in the typical sense. The donations could include creating scholarships, adopting a local classroom, or having one of their employees teach or mentor students. The businesses rose to the challenge, but Val wasn’t too surprised. “Utah is the most giving state in America,” he says. “Both in charitable giving and giving of our time.”
He points to prominent examples in the state, the community outreach of the Larry H. Miller Group of companies and Zion’s Bank, and the educational programs put on by Ken Garff. Their Keys to Success and Coding for Success programs help local students learn to read and to write computer code.
Investing In Education
Val sees an investment in education as the best possible kind. “The future of Utah includes more public/private partnerships. Our businesses need to engage with the education community, because that’s an investment in our future.”
But it’s not only businesses that should get involved in giving back to the community. “It should be our number-one priority to help out with education at all levels, K-16, and beyond.”
Fertile Soil for Business
When asked what makes Utah’s economy so great, Val Hale responds with a chuckle, “Governor Herbert always says, ‘We want to keep government out of your wallet and off your back.”’ This has guided Val’s tenure as the governor’s chief economic adviser. “Utahns are pretty good entrepreneurs. We have fertile soil for business growth. We have legislators and governors who have created a business-friendly environment. We support and encourage free market capitalism and we are not ashamed with the person who has a good idea and finds out how to monetize the idea. We don’t begrudge people who are successful. Not only that, but we have the most diverse economy in America. It’s not all stacked in one basket, but we have strong sectors in IT, aerospace, and many others.”
But a booming economy brings with it its own challenges. “I can sum it up in one word,” Val says. “Growth. At the rate things are going, the population of Utah is going to double in the next 30-35 years. We’re one of the fastest-growing states in America. We have such a good quality of life, but we need to plan effectively to make sure that the good things from our economy don’t turn into bad things after a while.”
A Very Experienced Upbringing
He has come a long way since his youth in Snowflake, Arizona (a town that actually boasted a mayor named Jack Frost at one point.) He spent most of his career working for both Brigham Young University and Utah Valley University before becoming President and CEO of the Utah Valley Chamber of Commerce and ultimately answering the governor’s invitation to serve on his cabinet. Val says he owes much of his success to those who selflessly gave to their time to mentor him all throughout his career.
One example in particular stood out—a man who bore the unique distinction of having been the Vice President of Athletics at the University of Utah and Brigham Young University one after another. “R.J. Snow took me under his wing. I owe him a lot, because he was a busy man and was very generous with his time and gave me opportunities to succeed. But I could name so many others. I worked with phenomenal people, legendary even.”
That, Val Hale admits, has been the secret to his success and is the reason Utah is unlike any other state.
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