The Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute has turned five years old and released its “2020 Report to the Community,” a collection of research highlights, testimonials, student experiences and community events. Since its launch in September 2015, the Gardner Institute has released over 250 research briefs and reports, convened over 60 community events and gatherings and engaged in over 1,000 presentations and speeches given by its professional staff.

“After five years of service, the Gardner Institute stands as a treasured asset and leading voice on public policies impacting Utah,” said Natalie Gochnour, director of the institute. “The success of the institute stems from a dedicated and talented staff, the support from Utah’s flagship university, dozens of committed community partners and the backing of a respected advisory board that guides and supports our work.”

Among the highlighted accomplishments of the institute are the population projections for the state of Utah and all 29 counties. Currently, it provides long-term (50-year) projections of population, households and economic indicators and short-term (10-year) projections of population and households, including projections of the population by age, sex, race and ethnic origin.

In May 2018, the Gardner Institute released a landmark study analyzing what rapidly rising prices mean for housing affordability across the state. Key findings included an in-depth analysis of housing price appreciation trends, the impact of income trends and household income and housing affordability and other trends that state and community leaders have utilized to inform policy considerations related to housing.

The Utah Coal Country Strike Team, co-founded by the institute, serves Carbon and Emery counties by helping to raise incomes and diversity the economy. The Strike Team was formed as part of the Alliance for the American Dream to help lift the middle class in Utah and across the nation. This locally led initiative continues to invest in workforce training, create opportunities for remote work, reward grants for economic diversification and assist with tourism infrastructure across Carbon and Emery counties.

On Aug. 14, 2019, the Gardner Institute released a report on Utah’s mental health system. The report served as a starting point in finding new and important ways to improve Utah’s mental health system and inform those investing in the future of mental health across the state and region.

“Since its launch five years ago, the Gardner Institute and the Thomas S. Monson Center have more than fulfilled our hope of creating a gathering place for our community to hear directly from thought leaders in our state and nation about the important issues of our time,” said University of Utah President Ruth V. Watkins. “The center has provided an excellent home for the Gardner Institute and its remarkable team of analysts, who produce insightful research that is helping guide and inspire our state’s policy makers, change agents and governmental leaders.”

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