All posts by ngochnour

Saratoga Springs – The belly button of Utah

Originally published in the Deseret News.

This week, the CEO of a large company headquartered in downtown Salt Lake City described the need to offer services and invest in infrastructure in Utah County. As he made his point, he looked across the table at me and asked if there was a single measure that captured the shift of Utah’s population southward.

Well, actually there is. It’s a concept known as the mean center of population. The Census Bureau defines it as the point where an imaginary, weightless, rigid and flat surface would balance if every person weighed the same. Think of it as the population center of Utah.

Continue reading Saratoga Springs – The belly button of Utah

Utah’s growth demands cooperation, not sabotage

Originally published in the Deseret News.

The poet E. E. Cummings wrote, “More, and more, and still more … are we all morticians?”

This quote reminds me of the seemingly limitless growth occurring in Utah right now. We have more people, more jobs and more opportunity. We also have more congestion, more pollution and more need for water. For growth to be good, it must be guided by great leaders who represent our shared values. We must turn the “more of anything” into “more of the right thing.” Quality growth should be our north star.

Continue reading Utah’s growth demands cooperation, not sabotage

Time for the northern Utah economy to come alive

Originally published in the Deseret News.

The Utah economy continues to impress. Utah job growth registers an impressive 3.5 percent, the fastest job growth in the country and nearly twice the national average of 1.6 percent. Utah’s job growth, combined with low unemployment, rising wages and net in-migration, makes for the hottest economy in the nation right now.

I’m always tracking the story behind the story and, of course, there are many behind-the-scene narratives about the Utah economy.

Continue reading Time for the northern Utah economy to come alive

The World Cup is here. You should give it a chance.

Originally published in the Deseret News.

The 2018 FIFA World Cup kicks off next week in Russia. It is, by far, the grandest sporting event in the world. Teams from 204 countries competed across six continents, for three years, playing in 855 matches, to be one of 31 qualifying teams (plus the host country of Russia) to play. Global gross domestic product will likely drop temporarily as an expected viewing audience of 3.2 billion people watches and celebrates the most popular sporting competition in the world.

Sadly, the United States did not qualify for the first time in 32 years. In what can only be described as a devastating blow to U.S. soccer, the red, white and blue lost 2-1 in the final qualifying match to Trinidad and Tobago (population less than half the state of Utah). Mexico, Panama and Costa Rica will represent North America in the heralded tournament, and the Yanks will stay home.

Continue reading The World Cup is here. You should give it a chance.

We are all caregivers

Originally published in the Deseret News.

After my mother passed away, a friend inquired about her death. Without meaning to jar me he asked, “Are you an orphan now?” I was taken aback by the question. I’d never thought of it that way. Since my father had died several years earlier, I responded, “I suppose I am.”

I don’t like the term orphan. It suggests you are someone who has lost support, care and supervision. That’s not me. I am rich in family and friends. But I am always keenly aware of how my parents cared for me, the example they set for me and the influence they continue to have on my actions. My parents are still a very real part of my life.

Continue reading We are all caregivers

Act now to avoid a housing crisis

Originally published in the Deseret News.

The Utah economy continues to perform. The expansion celebrated its eighth birthday this year, and the federal tax cuts will extend the expansion, which is already the nation’s and state’s second longest ever. These are prosperous times.

Every economic expansion party has a host of well-wishers — low unemployment, strong job growth, in-migration and rising incomes bring plastic hats, whistles and gifts to the party. But every party also has the party pooper, the rude uncle who can’t leave well-enough alone.

Continue reading Act now to avoid a housing crisis

Dream big – the Utah Royals have come to town

Originally published in the Deseret News.

“I teared up during the welcome. Remember, even in my life I started competitive soccer in a boys’ league.”

That was the text I received from my daughter as Utah Royals FC kicked off their inaugural home opener. More than 19,000 fans, including 5,000 season ticket holders, filled Rio Tinto Stadium to support professional women’s soccer. The day not only made Utah sports history, it gave thousands of young women in our state the opportunity to dream big. I predict this historic inflection point will live on for generations

Continue reading Dream big – the Utah Royals have come to town

Springtime brings reflections on change and renewal

Originally published in Utah Business.

Spring is here! Sunshine, heat and color blanket the state. With each passing day, we marvel as perennials pop out of the ground, trees show their buds and the mountain white melts away. Runners, hikers, cyclers and gardeners are doing their thing. It’s a beautiful and active time of year.

When seasons change I intuitively become more reflective. It’s as if a page is turning and I’m thinking about what to write. It’s a chance to erase the old or write something new. I like to ask the question: What should I change, rekindle or keep exactly the same?

I think this change-of-season exercise is not only good for an individual, it’s good for a community. I’ve compiled an incomplete, but thought-provoking list for reader’s consideration. You may not agree with all my ideas, but I hope they will get you thinking.

Continue reading Springtime brings reflections on change and renewal

Utah could use a little beautification

Originally published in the Deseret News.

During World War II, Germany destroyed Great Britain’s House of Commons Chamber. When it came time to rebuild the structure, an argument ensued. Some members of Parliament wanted to rebuild the chamber in a semi-circular design, but Winston Churchill favored the same rectangular pattern that existed before the bombing because he felt it bolstered the two-party system. He famously uttered, “We shape our buildings and afterwards our buildings shape us.”

I’ve always appreciated this profound phrase. We shape our homes, communities and cities, and afterwards they influence how we feel and interact with one another. This sentiment harkens back to the City Beautiful Movement of the 1890s, which inspired Chicago’s magnificent waterfront area and the development of the Washington, D.C., Mall. The idea was not just to pursue beauty for its own sake, but to pursue beauty because it promoted civic virtues. I’m persuaded that Utah could benefit from a beautification movement.

Continue reading Utah could use a little beautification

It’s not about you: Why social cohesion is more important than ever

Originally published in Utah Business.

As an economist, I am often asked to speak to groups about global, national and local economic conditions. It’s a familiar routine—l talk about jobs, unemployment, wages, price levels, interest rates, and even taxes. But lately, a different topic has crept into my presentations. More and more, I find myself talking about social cohesion. It’s really thrown me off because I’m not a sociologist and it’s not my area of expertise. I do know that social cohesion is important to well-functioning economies and societies.

Continue reading It’s not about you: Why social cohesion is more important than ever