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• Tanner LLC, a Salt Lake City-based certified public accounting firm, has promoted Jonathan Dudley to partner in its Audit and Assurance Services practice. Dudley specializes in serving companies in manufacturing/distribution, real estate, consumer products, funds, nonprofits and technology-based industries. He joined Tanner in 2008 and has been in public accounting for more than 15 years. Prior to joining Tanner, he spent four years with a Big 4 accounting firm in Salt Lake City. He received his bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Utah and an MBA from Weber State University.
• Utah is ranked 32nd among states in a 2020 list of “Best States for Female Entrepreneurs,” released by FitSmallBusiness.com. Utah was 12th in 2019. The company said Utah’s rankings drop was attributed to its 49th-place “female rights ranking” and a 36th overall ranking in “women’s economic and social well-being.” FitSmallBusiness.com ranked the states using four main metric categories that encompass both general business concerns such as startup growth and cost-of-living and gender-specific factors such as VC funding for female entrepreneurs. Colorado led the overall rankings. Alabama was in last place.
• Utah ranks 35th among the 42 states and Washington, D.C., that are part of the “Healthcare Affordability State Policy Scorecard” produced by Altarum’s Healthcare Value Hub. The state’s ranking results from a combination of factors: continuous increases in high-deductible plans purchased through employer-sponsored insurance, failure of policymakers to combat low-value care, and failing to expand Medicaid for so long. Details are at www.healthcarevaluehub.org/affordability-scorecard/Utah.
• Provo residents with student debt saw their average balance increase 10.3 percent, to $19,760, from 2018 to 2019, according to a new report from Student Loan Hero. Researchers also ranked Provo among some of the cities with the fastest-growing student loan debt in the nation, placing No. 12 out of 100 major metro areas. Salt Lake City borrowers’ balance rose an average of 7.3 percent, to $19,219. Ogden borrowers’ balances were down 0.7 percent, to $17,448. The U.S. median balance is $17,331. Utah is last among states for average loan debt, at $18,838 per students, according to the Institute for College Access & Success. Details are at https://studentloanhero.com/featured/student-loan-balances-increase/.
• Shipley Associates, a Kaysville-based business consulting firm, has opened operations in Bucharest, Romania. The office joins Shipley’s global operations in 11 other countries, including company headquarters. The Romania operation currently employs over 20 professionals, including proposal managers, proposal writers and graphic designers. The Romanian team has been supporting one of Shipley’s global clients with professional services for almost two years.
• Jabz Boxing, an Arizona-based female-only boxing studio company that features full-body, circuit-style workouts using boxing inspired exercises, has signed a franchise agreement with Megan Breinholt Hitt for the Salt Lake City area. She will own the studio and manage daily operations at the location, scheduled to open this spring. Hitt has a corporate background, working previously in accounting. Since it began franchising in 2013, Jabz Boxing has now grown more than 20 franchise locations open or in development in Arizona, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware.
• Forum Health LLC, a Salt Lake City-based personalized healthcare company, has acquired Austin Complete Health, a healthcare practice center in West Lake Hills, Texas. It is the second acquisition that Forum Health has made in the Austin area since its June 2019 launch. It is the company’s seventh location nationwide. The practice is led by Dr. Harry Moore, who has roughly 40 years of physician experience.
• The application deadline is Jan. 24 for Utah’s State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) grants. The state received the largest increase in the nation for its STEP grant allocation, with $500,000 in grant funding coming to World Trade Center Utah to help Utah small businesses enter and expand into global markets. WTC Utah administers the funds with a goal to increase the number of Utah businesses exporting and exploring significant new trade opportunities. In addition to participating in a WTC Utah international trips, trade missions and trade shows, Utah companies can apply to receive STEP grant funding for just about any costs associated with growing their business internationally. Awards offered through WTC Utah include individual grants of $2,000-$3,000 for available activities occurring until Sept. 30, 2020. Qualified recipients may receive up to $10,000 during a STEP award cycle. Details are at https://wtcutah.com/growwithgrants/.
• Carterra Inc., a Salt Lake City-based antibody screening and characterization company, has closed on a $6 million financing round led by Ballast Point Ventures, based in Tampa, with participation from current investor Telegraph Hill Partners, based in San Francisco and San Diego. The company said the funding will support the continued adoption of the innovative Carterra LSA high-throughput surface plasmon resonance (HT-SPR) antibody screening platform and the development of new products and applications. In addition to its Salt Lake City headquarters, the company has customer experience centers in Dublin, California; Andover, Massachusetts; and Munich, Germany.
• TaxBit, a Salt Lake City-based cyptocurrency tax automation software company, has raised $5 million in a seed round. Investors include TTV Capital, Dragonfly Capital Partners, Collaborative Fund, Winklevoss Capital, Valar Ventures, Global Founders Capital, Table Management and Album VC. TaxBit launched its consumer product in January 2019 and has since helped thousands of cryptocurrency users automate their taxes. The company said it will used the funds raised to further enhance its products and accelerate customer growth, both in the United States and internationally in regions including Canada, UK and Australia.
• NewU Venture Partners GP LLC, Salt Lake City, has appointed André “Dre” Bennin as the fund’s managing partner. Bennin joins the fund in partnership with Nick Efstratis and Kent Madsen of Epic Ventures LLP (EPIC). The trio will lead the fund’s investment committee, which is tasked with the planning and oversight of investment objectives. Bennin has nearly a decade of experience in corporate development, fund management, operations leadership and government relations to the edtech venture fund. Prior to joining NUVP, Bennin served as managing director of corporate development for the Strada Education Network, working as investment lead on several direct minority investments and fund investments. He previously served as senior operations director for the Office of the Governor of Indiana. NUVP is a subsidiary of the Corporation of Western Governors University. Bennin holds a bachelor’s degree in molecular biology and a jurisprudence doctorate from Brigham Young University.
• Stoel Rives LLP has announced that three attorneys in its Salt Lake City office — Melanie Clark, Lauren DiFrancesco and Michael Menssen — are now partners in the fIrm. Clark, an attorney in the real estate group, has a real estate practice, including acquisition and disposition of land, project development, leasing and financing. She serves as counsel to developers of mixed-use, resort, and residential projects, including condominiums and vacation products. She holds a law degree from the University of Utah and a bachelor’s degree from Utah State University. DiFrancesco, a litigator, focuses her complex commercial litigation practice on product liability defense. Prior to her legal career, DiFrancesco worked as a registered nurse. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing and a law degree from the University of Utah. Menssen, an attorney in the litigation group, has experience in a wide variety of complex corporate litigation matters, including class actions, contract disputes, securities litigation, trade secrets, business torts and others. He also has significant experience inlabor and employment matters, including wage and hour, discrimination, sexual harassment and wrongful termination cases. His education includes a bachelor’s degree from Brigham Young University — Idaho.
• Holland & Hart has announced that two of its Utah-based attorneys are among attorneys elected into the firm’s partnership in Salt Lake City: Phil Harris and Nate Runyan. Harris’ practice focuses on preparing and prosecuting U.S. and foreign patent applications within the electrical engineering and mechanical engineering arts, among other areas. He also handles ex parte and inter partes disputes at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, along with various IP client-counseling activities. Runyan delivers tax counsel to help clients secure the financial health of their companies, focusing on state and local tax issues, including property, sales, income and severance tax. Nate’s dispute resolution experience includes litigating in state and federal courts, mediation, arbitration, state and local administrative tribunals, local boards of equalization, and lobbies.
• Maria O’Mara, general manager at KUER (NPR Utah), will become executive director of the University of Utah’s two statewide public media outlets — KUER and PBS Utah — on Feb. 1. As part of the restructuring, Joel Meyer, KUER director of programming and promotion, will become station manager and oversee all programming, operations, promotion and audience development. Ja’Naye Payne, currently KUER’s director of development, becomes assistant director of philanthropy for KUER and PBS Utah, working with O’Mara and PBS Utah’s Alice Webber. O’Mara started her career as a reporter at KUER in the 1990s. Her return to KUER in 2017 followed two decades in reporting and news management roles at Salt Lake Observer, Deseret News and KSL-TV. The UofU alum also worked in external communications positions with the university and Rocky Mountain Power. Prior to joining KUER in 2018, Meyer was an executive producer of talk programs and podcasts for WNYC Studios, WBEZ Chicago and Slate. Payne joined KUER in 2007 and has played multiple roles on the development team, including manager of business sponsorships and director of development.
• Sutherland Institute, Salt Lake City, has announced that retired Maj. Gen. Jeff Burton has been added to the organization’s board of directors. Burton served for more than three decades on active duty status, including assignments in Africa, Central and South America, the Middle East and Europe. He served as a company commander, battalion executive officer and assistant professor of military science at Brigham Young and Utah Valley universities. He commanded the 1457th Engineer Combat Battalion from 2002-2005. In In 2007, Burton was assigned as assistant adjutant general-Army and commander of the Utah Army National Guard. Burton attended BYU’s Reserve Officer Training Corps, where he commissioned in 1984 as the distinguished military graduate. He also has degrees in sociology, educational counseling and strategic studies. Burton retired from service in 2019.
• Mountain America Credit Union, Sandy, in partnership with Operation Warm presented 500 new winter coats to students at Utah Title 1 schools. Mountain America employees distributed coats to 400 students at Newman Elementary in Rose Park. An additional 100 coats will be distributed to Utah kids in need at other Title 1 schools.
• Inside Real Estate, a Draper-based real estate software company, has hired AJ Canaria as creative brand ambassador. Canaria, a real estate photographer, will capture moments from key industry events and share the stories of Inside Real Estate and its partners. He previously was the creative director for PlanOmatic, building national partnerships and photographing events for some of the biggest brands in real estate.
• The planning committee of the annual Women’s Entrepreneurial Conference (WEC) Grant Competition has named the top $5,000 grant award in memory of Wendy J. English, former director of the Brigham City Small Business Development Center. The grant will be named the Wendy J. English Grant for Growth. English served as a judge of the WEC annual grant competition for the past few years and was known for her passion for supporting small-business owners, especially women. She consulted and coached people from all levels of organizations to leverage their personal strengths, establish goals, and develop effective mentor networks. She also worked with countless business owners to help them start and grow their companies and achieve entrepreneurial success. Applications for the grant competition are due Jan. 31. Twenty-four women business owner applicants will be selected to prepare pitches for several panels of judges. At the conclusion of the conference in mid-April, selected applicants will receive grant funding totaling $23,000.
• The Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) board, at its January meeting, endorsed a pair of $50,000 Rural Fast Track grants. York Motorsports Inc., of Vernal in Uintah County, was endorsed for a grant to help the company purchase a vertical machining center CNC milling machine and related tooling. The $163,000 project is expected to result in one new full-time position. United Soil Science, of Delta in Millard County, was endorsed for a grant to help the company purchase a fertilizer air-spreader and construct a bulk storage facility. The $163,000 project is expected to result in one new full-time position. Both grants had been approved by the Governor’s Rural Partnership Board.
• PREP Securities LLC, a Salt Lake City-based broker-dealer affiliate of PREP Property Group, has expanded its distribution team with the addition of several senior professionals, and will no longer outsource its sales functions through CR Capital Distributors. PREP Securities manages the selling group of third-party broker-dealer firms that raise capital for offerings sponsored by PREP Property Group. Joining PREP Securities from CR Capital are eight industry veterans, three of whom will join the executive team: Phil Meserve, chief executive officer; Adam Dooley, who serves as president and oversees the sales team; and Sean “Mac” McEntegart, senior vice president of national accounts, whose primary responsibility is managing and cultivating selling firm relations. Meserve has more than 35 years of experience in the investment industry. He had overall responsibility for the sales of AXA Equitable’s variable annuities to more than 650 broker-dealers. He also was part of the team that successfully launched and developed the distribution organizations for both MetLife Investors and Fidelity Investments. Dooley most recently was a senior partner of CR Capital Group and previously led MetLife’s wealth management business in Europe and the Middle East and served as national sales director overseeing all aspects of distribution for the organization’s life, annuity and disability income businesses. He began his career with Salomon Smith Barney as an investment advisor in the firm’s Private Client Group. McEntegart has worked in the financial industry for 18 years, starting his career as a financial advisor with PRUCO Securities and then working for a decade at Sun Life Financial in a progression of leadership roles within their life and annuity distribution company. Prior to CR Capital, he was vice president at Stira Capital Markets Group. The new PREP Securities external sales team consists of regional vice presidents Sean Ryan, Kevin Deacy, Nick Brakovich and associate vice presidents Mike Hassel and Michael Tootle. Kevin Hull, a veteran industry securities lawyer and PREP Securities’ former CEO, remains with the firm as its principal financial officer, principal operations officer and in-house counsel. Tim Brennan, vice president of fund management, and Danielle Ball, investor relations manager, remain registered with PREP Securities, serving in dual roles with PREP Securities and Prep Property Group.
• Weave, a Lehi-based company offering a toolbox for service-based businesses, has hired Angie Balfour as its first chief people officer. Balfour previously spent more than five years at Instagram and Facebook. Most recently, she served as head of Instagram human resources and director of human resources at Facebook. Prior to that, she spent over a decade at Fairchild Semiconductor as a senior global human resources manager and human resources business partner. Balfour received a bachelor’s degree in human resource management from Utah State University and holds an MBA from the University of Utah.