BUSINESS REPORT: Life Sciences Grow High-Wage Jobs in the Beehive State

Rendering of new Boeing facility in West Jordan, UT
Rendering of new Boeing facility in West Jordan, UT

By Jonathan Sanders
From the January/February 2013 issue

A recent Utah Cluster Acceleration Partnership study reported that Utah’s life sciences industry grew by 25.8 percent from 2001 to 2010, which included a 9.2 percent increase in jobs from 2007 through 2010. At the national level, growth in life sciences employment was 8.4 percent from 2001 to 2010, but essentially flat during the period 2007 through 2010.

Across four major subsectors— Medical Devices and Equipment; Drugs and Pharmaceuticals; Research, Testing, and Medical Labs; and Biomedical Distribution—Utah is specialized with at least 20 percent higher level of industry concentration than is found at the national level for that subsector. In addition, each of the major subsectors of the life sciences industry is growing faster in Utah.

Utah’s life sciences industry is a source of high-wage jobs. The average wage for jobs in the life sciences stands at $59,480, or 53 percent above the private sector average of $38,932.

The life sciences industry has a significant impact on the Utah economy. In 2010, the cluster contributed $14.6 billion in economic output to the state and supported more than 63,000 jobs with workers earning $3.5 billion in personal income. Utah is targeting growth in four life science sectors:

  • Novel medical devices
  • Molecular diagnostics and personalized medicine
  • Molecular medicine; drug discovery, development, and delivery
  • Natural products/dietary supplements

In addition, the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development has a long history of offering tax incentives for biotech companies such as Edwards Life-sciences and Merit Medical. Most recently, the state supported a major expansion of BioFire Diagnostics, whose innovations in molecular diagnostics are helping propel Utah into its future life sciences economy.

Rounding out Utah’s life sciences story is continued investment in research and development and educating the workforce of tomorrow. Exemplifying this effort is the Utah Science Technology and Research (USTAR) initiative ( USTAR accelerates the ability of the University of Utah (U of U) and Utah State University (USU) to recruit world-class researchers, specifically into high-growth focus areas such as neuroscience and biomedical innovations. The initiative enabled the construction of two interdisciplinary research and development facilities at Salt Lake City and Logan campuses. USTAR operates outreach teams across the state to help entrepreneurs and existing companies commercialize new technology and access the resources available at higher education institutions.

The new 208,000 square-foot USTAR center at the U of U and the 118,000 square-foot sister facility already in operation at USU in Logan have accelerated the state’s ability to bring in entrepreneurial- minded, “catalyst-type” researchers. As a result, Utah is fulfilling its objective to become a world-class research destination, particularly in bioengineering, genetics and cancer research.

USTAR also has invested in the BioInnovations Gateway, a life sciences incubator that supports up to seven client companies while exposing high school and college students to intensive internships in biomanufacturing and biotechnology. Client companies have not only trained these young students, but have also hired them upon graduation. For more information, contact Michael O’Malley at or 801-538-8879.


Boeing has announced the purchase of a new building in Salt Lake County, UT. Employees at the new site, located in West Jordan, will focus on fabrication of composite horizontal stabilizer components for the 787-9 jetliner.

“The site we’ve chosen is an ideal location to add composite manufacturing capability focused on Boeing’s key business strategies,” said Ross R. Bogue, vice president and general manager of Boeing Fabrication. “This new facility will provide a real competitive advantage in our supply chain by expanding our internal composite capabilities.”

The new site, located 20 miles from Boeing’s fabrication and assembly site in Salt Lake City, was purchased from Masco. The close proximity of the two facilities will help improve the efficiency from component fabrication to assembly of the 787-9 horizontal stabilizer. The composite component fabrication facility is expected to create approximately 100 new jobs.

When finalized, the facility will provide the Boeing Salt Lake team with the flexibility to meet the demands of a highly competitive market.

“Boeing appreciates its continued relationship with the state of Utah and we are looking forward to creating a new partnership with the city of West Jordan,” said Craig Trewet, director of Boeing Salt Lake.



p. 9 – Rendering of new Boeing facility in West Jordan, UT





  • Population (2011 Est.): 2,817,222
  • Largest Cities (2011): Salt Lake City, 189,899; West Valley City, 131,942; Provo, 115,321;
West Jordan, 105,675; Orem, 90,727
  • Targeted Industries: Data Centers, Adv. Composites, IT, Digital Media, Renewable Energy, Manufacturing, Retail, Sports & Outdoor Products
  • Key Incentives: Enterprise Zones, Rural Fast Track Program, ED Tax Increment Financing, Motion Picture Incentives, Private Activity Bond
  • GDP (All Industry 2011): $124.5 billion*

*Bureau of Economic Analysis, U.S. Department of Commerce