Our latest blog comes from Acting Director Ben Kolendar with some thoughts on Utah’s role in U.S.-China trade relations. Read on and comment with your thoughts. As always, we’re here to help.

With months of on-and-off negotiations and tariff escalations, many of us are looking for a sign of hope for the U.S.-China relationship. We believe that Salt Lake City and Utah will lead the charge to restored economic integration – both now and in the future.

Why Salt Lake City? A large part of our growth is due in large part to a quality workforce, life, and business environment. The world is taking notice as businesses are choosing to relocate to lower cost markets (like Salt Lake City) in the U.S. instead of moving them abroad. Over 100 languages are spoken fluently in the Salt Lake Metropolitan area and Chinese is the 3rd most popular language spoken, after English and Spanish.

Utah has a reputation for welcoming the world. Whether it be through the 2002 Winter Olympics (and contender for 2030) or hosting the recent 68th United Nations Civil Society Conference – we’re a globally minded state and believe international diplomacy is key to economic growth. Of course, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints drives that welcoming ethos through their missionary programs and we’re also growing a reputation for being the  ‘Wallstreet of the West’ for our strong, growing finance and fintech industries.

As a City, we are committed to supporting our community of people with different cultural backgrounds from every corner of the globe. One way we do this is through the Salt Lake City Arts Council’s Living Traditions program and festival.china2

You may have heard that Utah ranks higher than average on educational attainment for our students. We also excel at learning foreign languages in dual immersion programs.  A recent article pointed out that Utah is home to 3.2 million people, which is less than 1% of the U.S. population, but its schoolchildren comprise 20% of those in Mandarin dual language immersion programs nationwide.

While we are concerned about the effects of the trade war, Salt Lake City has tools ready and available. Utah’s World Trade Center is an incredible resource to help increase exports and international awareness for Salt Lake City’s companies. Their grant programs, specifically the STEP Grant, is one tool to help offset costs.   Another tool is Salt Lake City’s Foreign Trade Zone. FTZ’s aren’t a loophole for avoiding tariffs on products destined for the U.S. market, but they can be a way for companies to avoid duties on goods shipped to the U.S. and subsequently exported.

We believe that Salt Lake City’s companies will continue to be resilient in China and any country. We continue to lead other U.S. cities in economic development and international trade plays a significant role in that success.

In January, our Business Development Team has an opportunity to sponsor the Utah Chinese Association 2020 Business Summit. Join us as Utah’s government and business leaders meet to discuss the U.S.-China relationship in Utah.  There will be forum discussions on diversity, inclusion, and cross culture business topics. Breakout sessions will cover tech, health, real estate, restaurant business, patents, financing, and the 2020 census.

It will be held Saturday, January 18, 2020 at the Little America Hotel. We hope to see you there.


Our businesses are engaging with the world, and we’re preparing our workforce to do the same. Salt Lake City welcomes the world.