SALT LAKE CITY — The president and CEO of World Trade Center Utah, Miles Hansen, is himself an example of why Utah's business community has more ties to Ukraine and Russia than most other states. Hansen served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in St. Petersburg, Russia.
"Utah's competitive advantage, the thing that makes us different from all the states around us, is how international we are. We speak 130 languages here in the state of Utah," Hansen said.
Ukraine has become a place where some Utah companies have turned for an educated and inexpensive addition to their workforce.
"There are several Utah tech companies that have offices in Ukraine," said Hansen.
It makes sense that a business looking for well-trained employees at a low cost would find Ukraine attractive. 99.8 percent of Ukrainians are literate, with a regular 15 years of public education and more than 800 universities. But the household annual income per capita was $2,145 in 2020. That means Utah companies can contribute better-paying jobs while saving money, but now CEOs in Utah are navigating a terrible situation.
"I just had a conversation with a prominent Utah company that has a team in Ukraine. About a week and a half ago, they started working very quickly to help get their team members out of Ukraine," said Hansen, adding that it's impossible to get many of those employees out. Under martial law, men aged 18 to 60 have to stay in the country to resist the invasion.
On the other side of the war, Hansen points out that Russian citizens, including those opposed to the invasion, will also suffer.
"They're the ones that are going to bear the brunt of the cost of Putin's criminal war against Ukraine," Hansen said.
The World Trade Center Utah is working with a local law firm to provide businesses with assistance understanding how they need to adjust due to the sanctions placed on Russia.