Michael O. Leavitt Center for Politics & Public Service

Project Prologue

Silicon Valley Alliance

The Governor was really technology efficient and knowledgeable, more than perhaps any other previous governor. He knew Bill Gates and a lot of the other top people in the world of IT. I knew he once in a while went down to Silicon Valley, so I said, why don’t we concentrate one of your trips to Silicon Valley on developing Silicon Valley as a place where we can attract business to Utah because we have a really good tech environment up here, but we need more headquarters and high paying jobs. It’s not reasonable to expect Silicon Valley Companies to move their whole headquarters up here, but we can certainly get them to move some of their operations because things are so much cheaper in Utah and there is much less congestion, housing prices in Silicon Valley were going through the roof, and their freeways are snarled. So we did that early 1998 up until the bubble burst at the end of ’99 and early 2000. The Governor committed to go almost every month to Silicon Valley and we’d set up appointments and meet with various companies.  We eventually got Wilson Sonsini, the foremost law firm in technology to establish (more…)


Economic Development

Economic Development Report Like many governors, Governor Leavitt was very interested in economic development and he was trying to do a number of things to put Utah in a favorable position for the new economy and he saw that the new economy would be much more based on higher educational and workforce qualifications, and a requirement for more people with a technical background, people in science and engineering and mathematics. He was concerned that we were not training enough people to meet the future demand, so his idea was very simple: let’s provide money to the colleges of engineering so they can increase their capacity to train students. Over time the reports will show that about 10 million dollars of permanent money was infused into higher education institutions so that the colleges could increase their capacity to train engineers. What that means is they hired additional faculty, they opened up more enrollment, they created additional classroom and research space. So theoretically, if they were accepting 100 students, they could now have an increment and go to 120, 130, etc. The initial focus was on the two research universities, Utah State and University of Utah. That’s where the engineers were being (more…)


Economic Development Report

Economic Development Report I was involved from the industry side. And as Rich Nelson, and you may want to talk to Rich and flesh it out and get more detail, he could direct you to other people. The whole thing on the Fund of Funds was, Utah has been an innovator of ideas for many, many years. A lot of new technologies came out of Utah and a lot of the computer related ideas and software companies and so forth started from people coming out of U of U’s computer science program. But they didn’t stay in Utah. The ideas were generated here, but they were developed and moved to California. Part of that was the lack of venture capital. You’d get this new technology that would be started, and when it would get ready for funding they couldn’t really get funding here so venture capital groups from California would come and find out about them and look into them and agree to fund them, but they would say, you have to move to California because we want you to be close by where we are so we can keep an eye on you. So Utah, even though we were (more…)



A “Generation of Planners,” Reinventing Government Governor Leavitt set the tone for his administration by placing strong emphasis on long range, strategic planning. The Division of Travel Development, colloquially known for decades as the Utah Travel Council (UTC), embarked on a first of its kind, long term strategic plan for the Utah tourism. Under the guidance of the newly reorganized Board of Travel Development, we collected input and broad buy-in during 20 statewide, community stakeholder meetings in two separate phases. Concurrently, having been given a copy of Reinventing Government by Osborne and Gaebler, by the Governor, several of the book’s principles were embedded into the planning process. These include catalytic government: steering rather than rowing; enterprising government: focus on quality earnings; market oriented government: leveraging change through the market; and finally, doing more with less. The tourism plan, published after eighteen months of broad collaboration, laid out a road map for clarifying the role distinctions between county based destination marketing organizations and the state travel office. With the state role defined as scanner, convener, and facilitator, the plan set a standard for making financial decisions based on empirical data derived from market research. These findings were expected to guide marketing (more…)


2002 Winter Olympic Games

Economic Legacy In 1997, I started working for Governor Leavitt heading up Community and Economic Development. Up until that time our business community had not really paid any attention to the potential of being able to develop our economy through the Olympic games, and I felt that we needed to have a close connection with the games. Not only for the tremendous world-wide recognition we would get during the games, but we could build ourselves a legacy by continuing contacts after the games and using that as a springboard. So I hired Jeff Robbins from Novell to be my Olympic coordinator. Jeff had been a tennis player all his life and was extremely interested in sports and was ready to leave Novell at that time. I had previously been a member of the oversight board for the publicly-supported athletic venue construction happening before the games. It was the 58 million dollar bond issue that had been passed to help build some facilities for those sports that could not economically be self-sufficient and needed a subsidy. We won the bid for the games in Budapest in 1995, which was a tremendous thing for the state. Olympic Bid Scandal A couple of (more…)


Michael O. Leavitt Center for Politics and Public Service