Rep. Curtis says tech industry can help build rural economy


SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – Utah’s economy is booming, but not all parts of the state are benefiting from that.

Representative John Curtis wants to get more jobs to rural areas and he says the tech industry is part of that solution.

Utah’s 3rd Congressional District is the youngest in the country. That population is fueling a huge boom.

“The average age is 26 years of age. So, tech to this district is just critical and me understanding the issues that they are dealing with, both good and bad, is really important,” said Curtis, (R) Utah.

That’s why the congressman has embarked on a tech tour, getting an up-close look at the companies and the people behind them in his district.

“This is an amazing place, not only in the state, not only in the country but in the world for innovation, for creativity, for hard work,” Curtis said.

At the epicenter of his district, the industry is flourishing, which creates a unique challenge.

“The biggest thing I hear in Utah County and Salt Lake County is we don’t have enough workers, and the biggest thing I hear just 60 miles away is we don’t have enough jobs,” said Curtis.

According to the Department of Workforce Services, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for Utah and Salt Lake Counties is under 3.0%.

It’s a different story for the rural counties in the district: 4.1% for Carbon, 4.4% for Emery and 5.3% for San Juan.

“I view that as one of my missions, is to connect these two economies. We can do that and we need to do that,” he said.

He says the tech industry is the perfect path for that.

“We need to look at options like telecommuting and not necessarily having to make that drive across there, and I think we’ve got to get employers here thinking about that as an option, and employees in that area considering that as an option as well,” Curtis said.

He says improving the opportunities in rural Utah is also a solution to the housing crunch along the Wasatch Front, as housing costs are considerably lower in those areas.


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