For Immediate Release
July 28, 2016
30 th Anniversary of the Utah Rural Summit
CEDAR CITY, Utah — This year marks the 30 th anniversary of the annual Utah Rural
Summit, making it the longest running rural development conference in the nation. The
Rural Summit is hosted by Southern Utah University’s Utah Center for Rural Life, and
will take place August 3 - 4 in Cedar City at the Hunter Conference Center, on the SUU
campus. Attendees include government and business leaders from across the state,
including legislators, county commissioners, city officials, economic development and
planning professionals, and policy makers from both state and federal government
With Lifting Through Leadership as its theme, this year’s Utah Rural Summit features
keynote addresses from internationally acclaimed community development author Doug
Griffiths, Utah Governor Gary Herbert, and former governor and former Bush
Administration cabinet member Michael O. Leavitt. Other conference presenters include
Deseret News political columnists LaVarr Webb and Frank Pignanelli, as well as
numerous business leaders, state officials, and local leaders.
The Rural Summit will feature the statewide rollout of Governor Herbert’s 25k Jobs
Initiative. This initiative is a commitment by the Governor to facilitate the creation of
25,000 jobs in communities located outside the four metropolitan Wasatch Front
counties. As part of this rollout, the public is invited to join with the Governor and other
state officials outside on the SUU upper quad, Thursday, August 3, from 4:00 to 6:00
p.m., to learn more about how to take advantage of this small business-focused effort.
According to conference organizer, Wes Curtis, “In every instance where rural
communities have made progress in job creation or community development, you can
always point to a specific individual or individuals who have had vision and passion, and
who have done the work and led the effort. Local leadership is the key to every local
This theme is echoed by keynote speaker, Doug Griffiths, author of the highly acclaimed
book, 13 Ways to Kill Your Community. “Don’t just be the leader. . . show leadership,”
Griffiths believes communities are the foundation on which we build stronger families,
stronger businesses, and stronger nations. “Build strong communities, and success will
follow.” He helps communities identify what is holding them back from finding success,
and then helps them overcome it. Griffiths inspires by showing how communities are
often destroying their own chance at success.
“We all do things that undermine our opportunity for success, whether we are
consciously aware of it or not,” says Griffiths. “My objective is to help communities
recognize their potential and to get them on a better path.”
LaVarr Webb and Frank Pignanelli have been mainstays in Utah’s political scene for
decades. Their weekly column in the Deseret News offers political commentary that is
insightful and lighthearted at the same time. Coming from opposite ends of the political
spectrum, their friendly give-and- take adds a much-needed balance to the political
dialogue. At the Rural Summit, their column shtick will come to life as they discuss what
a Trump presidency means for rural Utah, along with other timely issues.
The Utah Rural Summit is especially pleased to have former Utah Governor and Cedar
City native son Michael O. Leavitt as a keynote speaker. Governor Leavitt brings a
national and global perspective to the topic of leadership as the critical ingredient to
success in a rapidly changing world.
The Utah Rural Summit also features a number of breakout sessions covering a variety of
topics, including natural resources, public lands issues, and challenges facing energy
development, as well as a special tourism track.
Registration and additional information about the 2017 Utah Rural Summit can be found
at https://utahlinks.org/urs, or by calling 435-586- 7707.