A full slate of speakers greeted a sold-out crowd in the new Kanab Center January 10. Politicians and business people updated those in attendance on the economy and new community developments.

Organizers Matt Brown and Kelly Stowell did a great job getting interesting speakers and keeping the crowded agenda flowing. Since the meeting was lengthy, the following are some speaker highlights:

• Two time Kanab City Mayor Robert Houston said the city economy was good. But cautioned that 48 percent of its revenues are from sales tax. “We depend on our tourism economy for a large portion of our revenue.”

On his passion of the city building a Health and Wellness Center, he said that he and the City Council will probably make a decision on it by the end of this year. Houston said the City has been working in Tom’s Canyon on a variety of flood prevention projects.

• Kane County Commissioner Brent Chamberlain updated on county news. He was pleased with the new Kanab Center and said the facility would be valuable upon getting events and conventions during the tourism shoulder season. He highlighted that the county has been marking and signing more trails. He talked specifically on the East Zion plans, they were mapping and creating more than 15 miles of trails that go into the park. “The idea is to encouage Zion visitation to the east side.”

• Tourism Director Camille Taylor updated on the great tourism year we’ve had. She also said trail building was a priority. She praised her dedicated staff and said that they have been busy with many projects. One is lending help doing the Wave lottery, so as to free up BLM staff.

• Orderville resident Mica Young told of his and Aaron Bonham’s East Zion Resort project. Set up on the hills just north of Orderville is the unique resort with different types of cabins and yurts.

• Collette Cox, President of the Chamber of Commerce, spoke a bit about what the Chamber has been up to. She encouraged folks to join because it was a great place to network and they were active in local business advocacy. Yearly dues are only $85.

• Best Friends Facility Director Bart Battista updated on the new Road House and Mercantile property, the newest pet-friendly lodging in Kanab. He also told about investments and improvements to the Best Friends Fitness Center.

• Kane County Hospital Director Sherrie Pandya gave an update on the enormous hospital remodel. Phase I is complete on the new $15,000,000 project, with Phase II hoped to be completed by July 2020.

• Angie Reidhead, of the Utah State University Extension/4H, showed a fascinating video on local students and their STEM success. In fact, there’s a new space dedicated for the students to work with technology and computer programs. It’s been named the ‘Creative Underground’ and is located right next to new senior center.

• Lt. Governor Spencer Cox enthusiastically shared the great state economic news. “We’re number one in the nation for economics.”

As a rural resident himself, he bemoaned the challenges of economic development in rural Utah. He said that high speed internet (like South Central Commuications offers) really helps people to be able to work remotely. “There’s no reason some of those companies couldn’t let their employees work remotely.”

• Former Kanab resident Mace Glazier is a great example of the working remotely concept. He works for Silicon Slopes giant Pluralsight, and is moving back to Kanab. “We help skill-up individuals concerning tech.”

• Jeff Burningham helped to fund several tech companies on the Silicone Slopes. Like Cox, he is also running for Governor. “The future of technology is enormous,” said Burningham. He expects that there will be an increase in ‘digital nomads’ who work remotely. “They want the quality of life you have here.”

•Former Kanab resident Daniel Holland, keynote speaker for the Raising Kane Business Summit, shared his interesting journey which eventually led to a top job at Pixar doing sets design and animation on some of the most popular animated movies. The artist and designer has worked for the company for 17 years, and is in charge of a team there.

The title of his talk was “Meandering Toward Your Goals,” and accounted a not at all straight journey to eventually getting his dream career!

“Very few paths lead in a perfectly straight line,” noted Holland.

“My journey started at Zion Drug when I used to bury myself in the comic books,” said Holland. “I always loved to doodle and draw, and comic books just fascinated me.”

He said by studying more about it, he learned that if you wanted to be really good and learn from the best, you should go to the California Institute of the Arts. He said it was just too expensive, and he instead went to BYU. Holland eventually did apply there, but they turned him down.

Frustrated, but not defeated, he instead applied to the Vancouver Film School. It was an 11-month school where he learned about animation. “I had really learned how to draw,” said Holland, of the experience. “What’s real is the struggle. It’s hard work; you’ve just got to do it. There are no shortcuts.” But after the program ended, he couldn’t find a job.

He was finally accepted to the California Institute of Arts. There he was taught by some of the best teachers in the business. While there, Holland was accepted on an internship on the TV show, The Simpsons. Pixar then hired him upon graduation.

Holland started as an computer animator, “but I wanted to draw!” He now is an artist and sets designer. He went through a series of pictures on the long process of drawing that was quite fascinating.

“Let your passions, interests and experiences fuel your work!” said Holland.