By Robert Gehrke
Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman touted his record on job creation during a tour Tuesday of a medical testing services company that credits its growth to the ex-governor's policies.
John Bolinder, chief financial officer of Nelson Laboratories, said his company has managed to continue to grow throughout the recession and now employs 398 workers.
"We feel these policies have been able to help us grow in this market and this state," Bolinder said, noting that the company has been courted by states like Florida and California. "We do have other options."
Huntsman, who formally launched his campaign for the White House last week, shook hands and chatted briefly with employees at Nelson Laboratories' 11,000-square-foot Taylorsville campus.
"One of the reasons we're excited about this campaign in 2012 is I think we bring something to the table that speaks to what this state has done, specifically in the area of job creation and economic vitality," Huntsman told reporters.
During his tenure as governor, the state saw a dramatic boom-and-bust cycle mirroring that of the nation. Between the time Huntsman took office in January 2005 and the economic peak in January 2007, there were about 127,000 jobs created in the state and unemployment dipped as low as 2.3 percent -- the lowest in state history.
But as the economy collapsed, roughly half those jobs disappeared and the unemployment rate tripled by the time Huntsman left office to take the job as U.S. ambassador to China in August 2009.
Now, the former governor said, it will take tax reform like he advocated in his first term as governor -- when he cut the income tax rate from roughly 7 percent to 5 percent -- and regulatory reform to grow the national economy again.