ST. GEORGE — The St. George Area Chamber of Commerce held its annual business event, the RISE Summit, last Friday to help bring some “sexy sizzle” to a “strong foundation” for its local businesses, as Kevin Lewis said during an economic panel about tourism during the event.
The panel answered questions on businesses’ success with tourism, the history of the business within the area, what to look forward to, and trends within the culture that boosts tourism and business.
The panel consisted of Lewis, who is the director of tourism for the Greater Zion Convention and Tourism Office; Kress Staheli, mayor of Washington City; Shirlayne Quayle, director of economic vitality and housing for the city of St. George; AJ Templeton, Southern Utah University hospitality management professor; and Patrick Manning with Reef Private Equity and Black Desert Resort. The panel was moderated by Ashley Dove, the director of sales and marketing at The Advenire.
Lewis highlighted how tourism acts as a business stimulus and brings money into all aspects of the community.
“It’s an intricate dance … to me,” Lewis said. “I liken it to if you have Patrick Swayze, you got a solid foundation, right? And then you have Jennifer Grey bringing this real sexy sizzle, and all of a sudden you have dirty dancing.”
Dove, as moderator, chimed in with “dirty dancing on career night” on the comparison of tourism and financing local businesses to the 1980s cult classic movie.
Included in the panel’s discussion was the partnership with Southern Utah University and Utah Tech for a study program in hospitality management, upcoming plans with professional extreme sports for the under-construction Wheels Park in Washington City, and a trail that will run from LaVerkin to Springdale, as well as more projects in the plans.
Along with the panel, the event had multiple featured speakers and master classes in which business enthusiasts received advice and learned from business successful entrepreneurs.
One of the first featured speakers was author, speaker, and coach Greg Gray. Gray provided motivational advice by presenting business tactics through scientific means in his presentation titled, “Momentum is not enough: sustained operational excellence and the physics of motion.”
A customer service guru, Gray is the founder and president of Renaissance Unlimited Inc., a financial consulting company created in 1996. He also co-authored a customer service training course that is utilized by many corporations and businesses around the world.
Talking about putting things in motion with customer service, he explained how customer service is important but to be wary of the business aspect over consuming your life.
“As a business owner, we must be careful not to treat our clients better than our families,” Gray said.
Other featured speakers included real estate developer and coach Brad Harker, restaurant entrepreneur Chris Connors, inclusion specialists Nikki Walker and Joelle Kanshepolsky, Macrae Helper of Eagle Gate Title, and team building expert and U.S. Army Special Forces veteran Colby Jenkins for the morning session.
In the afternoon session, the couple of hundred business owners and enthusiasts in attendance heard from St. George Mayor Michele Randall, Washington County Commissioner Adam Snow, Broker Holdings CEO Neil Walter and Utah Grizzlies hockey Vice President Jared Youngman.
One other panel was held in relation to the tech pipeline. The moderator was Zonos Chief of Staff Joshua Aikens, with panelists Gregg Robison of RAM Aviation, Eric Pederson, Utah Tech dean of the college of science, engineering, and technology Eric Pedersen, and Vasion CEO Ryan Wedig.
Besides speakers and panels, the Dixie Convention Center had vendors and booths set up with products and services ranging from olive oil to churros, banks to title insurance companies, and community social services to sports.
Among the vendors and booths were Red Rock Broadcasting, Canyon Media, State Bank of Southern Utah, BigShots Golf, O’so Good Olive Oil and Balsamics.
Lindsay Abbott of the Washington County Children’s Justice Center explained why having a booth at events like the RISE summit is so important to their purpose.
“It is so important for everyone in the community to know what we are,” she said. “We are here to support and help children who are victims of abuse. We want people to know what we do and how we can help.”
The vendors had the opportunities to relive and renew business relationships. Vendors and attendees were also able to putt golf balls, kick around a golden soccer ball, sample delectable sweets and relive youthful memories of their college days.
Education came into play at the end of the day as the master classes were held with lessons in different aspects of business covering a broad range of topics, including branding, customer service, social media and advertising.
The instructing professionals included Gray, Zonzo Head of Human Resources Hannah Huegel, World Trade Center Utah Tech Director of Development Jim Porter, realtor Nicole Briggs, and Canyon Media Group General Manager Ben Lindquist.
Washington City Councilman Kurt Ivie said the importance of the St. George Area Chamber of Commerce’s RISE Summit is to provide a space for people to come together and learn from one another.
“The big driving factor for RISE is to bring people together, to share ideas, to get answers to questions, to know what’s going on in the county,” he said. “There is a lot of building and a lot of construction, a lot of new ideas that people can learn from.”
For more information about the St. George Area Chamber of Commerce, click here.
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