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By Shana Daley
From the January/February 2014 issue
The slogan “Utah: Life Elevated” means more than exceptional recreation. It also refers to the state’s business environment. With a productive workforce, AAA bond rating, low tax structure, stable regulatory environment and other business-friendly qualities, it’s little wonder why the state is so often rated by magazines like Forbes as one of the “Best States for Business and Careers.”
In July 2013, Utah celebrated the midpoint of Gov. Gary R. Herbert’s challenge to create 100,000 jobs in 1,000 days. The state now tops 70,000 jobs created since the challenge started. The celebration took place at Exelis Aerostructures—a high-tech manufacturer that lately is adding about 100 jobs a year.
Top-notch companies are expanding in Utah: Rio Tinto, Fresenius, Goldman Sachs, eBay, Adobe, Boeing, IM Flash, EMC Corporation, Edwards Lifesciences, Qualtrics, and OCCL are just some of the global brands on this high-profile list.
The Beehive State has joined forces with private industry, public education and higher education to help our workforce remain highly skilled by funding Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) programs, incumbent worker and extensive volunteer programs in Utah schools. For Governor Herbert, education is an economic priority, as Utah works towards the goal that 66 percent of Utahns will have a postsecondary certificate or degree by 2020.
Utah is home to five major universities, three of which are ranked research universities, and all of which have an entrepreneurial culture. When it comes to research-generated start-ups, Utah’s universities are recognized as some of the top in the nation in business, accounting, law, medicine, engineering, performing arts and a number of other disciplines.
INTERNATIONAL IMPACT IS GROWING
From 2008 to 2012 Utah’s exports grew by 85.1 percent, compared to the U.S. average of 20.1 percent. Utah businesses have customers in over 195 countries. Utah natives are also multi-lingual, with more than 130 languages spoken in the course of business every day.
Some 2,800 Utah companies are involved in exports, and ship a diverse range of products including medical devices, outdoor recreation gear, and aerospace composites.
A great part of our strength in the international market is that we consistently build and strengthen foreign relationships. This past year, our International Trade and Diplomacy Office led trips to Mexico, Thailand, China, Israel, Brazil, Indonesia and our largest market in the world for Utah exports—the U.K.
Utah’s manufacturing industry is currently the third largest industry in the state for total employment. Presently, this industry employs around 113,000 workers and supports an additional 300,000 indirectly related jobs in the state. Thousands of Utah jobs are related specifically to computer and electronic equipment manufacturing.
Utah makes Foreign Direct Investment simple. Firms can find ideal suppliers, buyers and technical expertise in the state. Our targeted strategic industries have strong supply chains in place. A wide range of technical, managerial and linguistic expertise is also available.
Utah is the sixth most diverse economy in the U.S. While manufacturing underscores all of our Utah clusters, 16 percent of jobs in Utah fall within identified strategic industry clusters. Our IT and Software cluster accounts for four percent of Utah jobs, with an annual average wage of $76,000.
The IT and Software cluster has grown phenomenally since the opening of the Intel/Micron joint venture IM Flash Technologies opened its 3 million square-foot chip manufacturing facility a decade ago; Now with the opening of the Adobe Software building just down the street in Lehi, Utah in December 2012, the sector continues to expand.
Utah’s Aerospace cluster builds higher and flies faster; a Utah company is currently building a new facility to produce the world’s fastest and longest range business jet. Our life science cluster has core manufacturing in dialysis, heart and other medical device production, but is globally recognized as a leader in DNA research that utilizes Utah’s unique genealogical data base. Life science industry concentration compared to the nation also outpaces national growth in key subsectors. The financial cluster is similarly concentrated, with Utah as the leading location for Industrial Loan Corporation banks.
Even though Utah is regularly recognized as a “Best State for Business,” the state’s landscapes, on display in our 43 state and five national parks, as well as the “Greatest Snow on Earth®” available at 14 world-class ski resorts, all make for good reasons to visit. The same landscapes that contribute more than $7.4 billion to Utah’s economy play host to enjoyable summer hiking, climbing, fly fishing, and mountain biking action.
The proximity and accessibility of outdoor recreation to our urban areas differentiates Utah from other business centers in the U.S. Because of this devotion to the outdoors and maintaining a high quality of life, Utah is also home to the only state level Outdoor Recreation Office whose charge is to balance business growth with maintaining our natural resources in the highest possible quality. Between business productivity and quality of life, Utah is the place.
BOX ELDER COUNTY: REACHING FOR THE SKY
Box Elder County, Utah had its start as an agricultural community growing mostly fruit, wheat, cattle, and corn. As the years past, Thiokol came into the scene raising up out of the dust important items like the Space Shuttle rocket motor boosters, airbag inflators, composite wrapped alternative fuel tanks, Minuteman missiles, and infrared flares among many other inventions.
Diversification has been the theme for many years for Box Elder County growing from within (entrepreneurism and business expansions) and helping businesses see the unique reasons why growing inside Box Elder is the best course they could take. Interstates 84 and 15 along with major State Highways and rail are a few of the reasons but the workforce and the way the people work together to make things happen seem to be the final straws as companies look at this county. Manufacturing is a very important part of the county summing up to about 45% of its workforce at times. Major companies like Proctor and Gamble, Nucor Steel, Autoliv, ATK, Malt-O-Meal (MOM Brands), Tarter West, West Liberty Foods, Honeyville Grain, GEM Building, Storm Bowling Balls, and a Wal-Mart Distribution Center have chosen the county because of some of these reasons.
Procter & Gamble Co. opened a new $300-million plant in Box Elder County two years ago, the first built in North America in 40 years by the world’s largest consumer-products company.
The state lured P&G in 2007 with the promise of $85 million in tax incentives over 20 years. P&G bought 750 acres west of Corinne. The distribution center receives products from other plants and sends them by truck throughout the western United States. Charmin toilet tissue began rolling off the production line in the expanded unit and the plant now also makes Bounty paper towels. The company employs 200 now at the Box Elder County plant, but state officials say the facility has the potential to increase that five-fold within a decade.
Keith Harrison, P&G’s global product supply officer, said the new Utah plant uses leading-edge technology and “literally puts people at the center of the operation.” The plant was already under construction when P&G committed to meet LEED standards for energy efficiency in new-plant construction worldwide, but the Box Elder plant makes use of natural light with windows and its landscaping uses little water.
Education has been at the forefront of the county with the expansions of both Utah State University Brigham City and the Bridgerland Applied Technology College to help meet the Governor’s mission to get 66% of the working population some type of secondary degree or certification.
As Box Elder County continues to grow and look for new opportunities to expand, the focus is on three key clusters: advanced agricultura, advanced materials, and shooting sports, each of which were defined by the workforce and the ability to help companies succeed in the county.
Advanced Agricultura. This cluster has its roots very deep within the county because of the agricultural start, but even more than that are the number of companies who are in the agricultural field that have moved into the county like Malt-O-Meal (MOM Brands), Tarter West, and West Liberty Foods among others. The county continues to search out companies who are in this industry to help strengthen this important cluster.
Nature Food Products (NFP) recently acquired property in Brigham City that it plans to develop as a new meat processing facility. Because of this, NFP has been awarded a state incentive through the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development. The proposed meat processing facility will be one of the most advanced in the U.S., and it will become one of the few transparent facilities in the world, with emphasis on employee safety, food safety, and animal welfare. Plans for the facility include advanced odor control, enclosed livestock storage, and Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP).
Advanced Materials. With companies like Nucor Steel, ATK, Storm Bowling Balls, and Proctor and Gamble, Box Elder County will continue to see growth in this cluster. Composites are the new material feeds that have the greatest strength in the county and the potential to bring in additional companies to manufacture within the aerospace and automotive fields. This space is expanding and will continue to expand in the near future.
Shooting Sports. Even though the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge is located in Box Elder County, this cluster was a surprise when it came forward. Many of the residents within the county get out and shoot shotguns, rifles, archery, and even photography. Events are held within the county that expand this growing industry and the people enjoy the many opportunities that exist to get out and focus on these sports, like day-long events at the county fairgrounds and shooting ranges and practice locations. There is even a place to go enjoy “Rifle Golf” where you shoot from a “tee box” at a target hundreds of yards away. This cluster is one that is yet to really be tapped but will be growing in the coming years.
We suggest you stop trying to “think outside the box.” From agriculture to aerospace, Box Elder County has a lot to offer any company looking to expand.
For more information, go to www.growinsidethebox.com.