We'd like to extend a special thanks to everyone who made this year's Spring Breakfast another record-breaking success! And another huge thanks to our amazing panelists:
–CEO, Packsize International
–President and CEO, Salt Lake Chamber
–Managing Director, GLDPartners
–Director, Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute
Our discussion provided some great insights on the importance of collaboration on the inland port project, what it could mean for future generations of Utahns, how to manage air quality in the process, and what having an "inland port" should look like. The focus of event was not on the governance of a port authority, but on the concept of an inland port and what it might do for Utah.
How to approach the issue
Many Utahns have raised concerns over the legislation surrounding the inland port. The bill, SB 234, has become a topic of heated discussion and debate. However, Derek pointed out that now, the important thing is to "refocus on the substance of an inland port rather than the politics." Other panelists agreed—thoughtful and inclusive collaboration will be essential to a successful and responsible inland port.
What is an inland port?
Derek's experiences traveling to other inland ports across the United States revealed something: what we're planning in Utah—a global trade center, positioned at the confluence of opportunity and connectivity—is one of the most unique and interesting undertakings of its kind.
For the large-scale import and export of goods the port is expected to facilitate, access to interstate roads, railways, and air travel will be essential—which is why the rebuild of the Salt Lake City International Airport is more timely than ever before. Adam mentioned that "airports are becoming increasingly important to high tech economies." He also highlighted how important the port's proximity to the airport will be in driving local companies' competitiveness on a national and global scale.
Looking beyond the short-term
Natalie drove home the important point that the inland port will not only change the makeup of Utah's economy for generations to come—creating job growth in construction, manufacturing, logistics, and distribution—but put us on the world map and strengthen our ties to the global supply chain. Just like we turned the 2002 Winter Olympics into a long-term economic booster—not only for winter sports and tourism, but our transportation infrastructure and entire economy as well—the inland port project will continue to impact our economy decades into the future.
Managing air quality
Despite the enormous benefits the inland port could bring to the entire state, our panelists recognized that there are significant challenges that need to be addressed. One of the biggest on the list: air quality. How do we handle an influx of rail, air, and truck emissions in the Wasatch Front when our air quality is already dangerously poor? Hanko (who also founded Utah Leaders for Clean Air) described some of the technology that is available that could be used to reduce the negative effects increased shipping along the Wasatch Front could have on our air quality. The panel agreed that cleaning up Utah's air is a "moral imperative."
To wrap things up, Natalie stressed the importance of an inclusive and collaborative process moving forward—a process based on sound research, multiple scenarios for development, and public/stakeholder input. She noted that it will take all of us working together to ensure we build an inland port responsibly and effectively.
Thank you again to everyone who attended this year's Spring Breakfast! We're so appreciative of our sponsors, our panelists, and our guests who made yesterday morning's important discussion possible. Please reach out to us if you have any questions regarding this or future events.