State Focus: Industry Is Not The Only Thing Buzzing In Utah

By Dominique Cantelme
From the January/February 2015 issue

Life elevated. Elevated really means living higher—and no, this does not just pertain to Utah’s average elevation of 6,100 feet above sea level. Utah boasts one of the best economies in the nation. What does that mean for you? A higher quality of life.

Forbes magazine has ranked Utah as the #1 Best State for Business and Careers four out of the last five years. Pollina Corporate also ranked Utah as the #1 Best State for Business in 2014 and ranked the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) as one of the top ten economic development offices in the country.

GOED’s groundbreaking post-performance incentives program continues to recruit global-brand businesses from out of state while retaining and expanding quality in-state businesses. These recruitment and support efforts particularly target six strategic economic clusters. These clusters include life sciences, aerospace/defense, financial services, outdoor products, energy and software/information technology.

This past year alone, GOED incented Varian Medical Systems to expand the life sciences sector and Jive Communications to add to Utah’s rapidly growing IT industry, aka the “Silicon Slopes.” Vista Outdoor, a spin-off company from the prominent aerospace and defense company ATK, is another exciting development that supports outdoor products. Planning to locate its global headquarters in Utah, Vista Outdoor owns more than 30 respected brands including Bushnell, Savage Arms and Champion.

Much of the economic activity centers on the urban “Wasatch Front,” so named for the beautiful and accessible mountain range towering above Salt Lake City and neighboring metro areas. But other parts of Utah draw well too, with Houweling Nurseries as an example. The company is set to bring its innovative productions to Utah, where it will leave an impressively low carbon footprint, clean the local air and provide more than 200 jobs in a rural community.

These four companies alone bring with them a projected $135 million in capital investment and nearly 2,000 jobs. GOED-incented companies have generated more than $5 billion in capital investment since the recession, and Utah proudly claims the fourth most diverse economy in the United States. In addition, Utah’s unemployment is now at 3.5 percent and its private sector job growth rate is 3.9 percent.

And if all of this isn’t enough to convince you that Utah is the place to be for better business, consider the fact that the American Legislative Exchange Council rated Utah #1 for Economic Outlook in 2014.

Contributing to the high rankings are low energy costs, up-to-date broadband and transportation infrastructure, and some of the lowest healthcare costs in the nation. Punching above its weight class, Utah is #7 in venture capital funding for 2014, demonstrating a vibrant entrepreneurial culture. Utah is at the top, and working hard to keep it that way.

Utah offers diversity economically and in lifestyle with a unique urban-wilderness environment. If Mother Nature picked favorites, Utah just might be it. There are five national parks in Utah, and from the Greatest Snow on Earth™ in the mountains to the red rocks down south, the state’s varied terrain offers something for many outdoor hobbies. The best part? You might be only a short 30-minute drive from hitting the slopes or trails.

Rocket motors and solid propellants are manufactured at ATK’s Promontory, Utah facility.
Rocket motors and solid propellants are manufactured at ATK’s Promontory, Utah facility. (Photo: Box Elder County.)

On the city side, Utah’s residents and visitors enjoy some top-rated dining and take advantage of the fact that Salt Lake City is one of only 17 cities in the United States with its own symphony, opera and ballet. The statewide support for local arts and culture is strong, as is the promotion of home-grown products and small businesses. Cultural offerings vary from street festivals to world-class performances. Travel a few hours south and you can catch a Tony Award-winning Shakespeare festival. And a little shindig called the Sundance Film Festival attracts more than 15,000 in-state and 30,000 out-of-state visitors. You see, part of living life elevated is to truly live, and Utahns know how to do it right.

WalletHub ranked Utah the #1 Happiest State in 2014. The Corporation for National and Community Service has ranked Utah as #1 in the U.S. for volunteerism nine years running now. Basically, Utah residents enjoy a great sense of community and a happy life. It’s why so many people move here—Utah’s population is expected to double within 30 years—and it’s also why so many businesses move here.

The secret’s out: Utah is easily one of the best places to work. And live. And play. Go and see for yourself.


Known as the Golden Spike Empire, Box Elder County is the location of the last driven rail spike joining the Transcontinental Railway across the United States in 1869. The County continues today as a major transportation crossroads of the west. With miles of wide open spaces, a population known for its hard work ethic and easy access to rail as well as a major international airport and Interstates I-15 and I-84, it’s no wonder Box Elder County has become a magnet for materials manufacturing, advanced agriculture, shooting sports and distribution. Now with cost-effective facilities for accelerator and testing labs available, other businesses are vying for a spot in the County, including Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS).

Not much further than a stone’s throw from where the last rail and tie were laid sits ATK (formerly Thiokol Corporation), designer and manufacturer of solid rocket motors and boosters for the defense and aerospace industry; the Alliant Technologies (ATK) boosters launched NASA’s space shuttles for decades. Spinoffs located around the County, along with other composite and manufacturing companies, make Box Elder County the highest manufacturing county per capita in the West (2010 U.S. Census).

The dogma of the early settlers to Box Elder has been passed down from generation to generation, creating a strong-work-ethic culture. Nucor Steel, known as the most productive and most profitable steel and steel products company in the world as well as the largest recycler in the United States came to the County looking for and found this culture of hardworking people. Over three decades, Nucor has expanded to three major facilities and is a key contributor to the community partnerships of Box Elder. Other major manufacturing companies who have taken advantage of this strong work ethic legacy include Procter & Gamble (P&G) producing paper products at the local Bear River facility with plans to expand, and Autoliv, an industry leader in lean manufacturing as well as a former spinoff from ATK, manufactures vehicle airbags and already has grown from one plant to three keeping its ties to the people of Box Elder.

Where rails and wagons brought early ranching and agriculture-minded folks to the area, descendants now welcome advanced agriculture industry, supporting food processing businesses such as MOM Brands (Malt-O-Meal) and West Liberty Foods. Wal-Mart Distribution transports its major grocery line from Box Elder County to many parts of the west.

The transcontinental railway brought people from diverse cultures to this beautiful area that lies at the foot of the majestic Wasatch Mountains. To the west, the semi-urban area is bordered by the national Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge attracting over 200,000 visitors a year in the form of birders, hunters and shooters. An NRA and BSA sanctioned shooting range adds to the shooting sport industry in the County.

The historic diversity of its people finds a mix in industry as well. Two major universities and an applied technology college lie less than 30 minutes from Box Elder County: Weber State (WSU), Utah State (USU) and Bridgerland Applied (BATC). USU and BATC also have regional campuses within the County. With an emphasis on the sciences, engineering, composites and robotics and a high graduation rate, these campuses are producing highly skilled individuals to maintain a growing manufacturing industry. With an additional 50,000-square-foot USU campus building currently under construction in the County and in partnership with the availability of accelerator and testing labs from ATK, focus is ramping up in composites and materials. And with wide open space to utilize, testing of unmanned aerial systems will be the latest takeoff in the valley.

The people of yesteryear turned their sights to the valley of the Golden Spike Empire which brought the East and West together. Today the same is true as both folks and industry come to the valley where the vision is still golden.

From trails, to rails, to rockets, Box Elder County welcomes business to expand west.


The heart and soul of any community are in its people. South Jordan is a vibrant city because it has vibrant people. The City is a full service community that has maintained a hometown feel and takes pride in offering high quality retail choices that meet the expectations of residents and visitors. Perhaps this is why South Jordan City is and has been for many years the fastest growing community in the State of Utah. South Jordan City continues to be a caring community where neighbors support each other and where families grow and prosper in a safe and healthy environment. Together, in partnership with the District LLC, it invites you to become its next partner and corporate citizen—a beneficiary of all that makes South Jordan and the State of Utah a great place to do business.

Generally, South Jordan residents like to dine, entertain and shop close to home and avoid the traffic congestion that is involved in leaving the area. This is why we believe that the Megaplex 20 Theater located in The District mixed-use development is one of the top grossing theaters in the country annually and has been on a few opening weekends, the highest grossing theater.

The City of South Jordan is located in the Salt Lake Valley between the Rocky and Oquirrh Mountains. The City has an area of 22.05 square miles; located in the southwest portion of Salt Lake County. South Jordan is a vibrant hub of residential, commercial and mixed-use development and is quickly becoming a premiere super regional destination. Strategically located at the crossroads of major infrastructure improvements, including the Mountain View Corridor and the Mid-Jordan TRAX line on the west side and Interstate 15 and the FrontRunner high speed commuter train on the east side. The City is well situated to attract businesses for shoppers from the southern portion of the Salt Lake Valley as well as commuters who travel along the major transportation corridors in the area for employment.

The demographics of South Jordan are extremely favorable to retail development. Households in the City are larger than average with an average household size of 3.71 family members. Families in South Jordan also have higher than average household incomes. South Jordan residents, with median incomes of $85,997, have great buying power and discretionary income for increased spending in the local area compared to other areas in the County. South Jordan City is one of the fastest growing and largest cities in the State of Utah. The 2014 year end population was 62,397. This is a 112% increase over the City’s 2000 Census population of 29,437.

The planned community of Daybreak, served by the newly opened Mountain View Corridor freeway system and the Utah Transit Authority’s TRAX light rail system is currently attracting many new residents and businesses. This 4,200-acre walkable community offers access to trails and has a recreational lake available to its residents. The master developer, Kennecott Land, a subsidiary of Rio Tinto Mining, plans to open new “villages” this summer and is currently seeking businesses for the Daybreak Commerce Park, the home of eBay’s largest Data Center. Phase II of this data center is run completely by Bloom Technology power cells.

With higher incomes and educational levels, office development is coming to South Jordan—where the “decision makers” live. The RiverPark Corporate Office Park on the east side of the City provides over 1 million square feet of Class “A” office space and is the home to the majority of the 27 corporate headquarters within the City. This office park is among the most beautiful in the country, situated along the Jordan River corridor with easy access to the trails and urban fishing ponds.

The attractiveness of South Jordan City has been recognized nationally. Recently, South Jordan City was listed by the Gadberry Group as one of the ten most notable high-growth areas in the United States. The City of South Jordan placed 18th in both the 2012 and the 2014 CNN/Money Magazine’s 100 Best Places to Live rankings for cities between 50,000 and 300,000 in population. The City is known for high property values, its large lots and large families; however, the City has taken steps to strategically include a wider range of housing to meet a wider range of life-cycle needs.

The City has a unique, expedited development approval process that is efficient and fair. City staff members and codes have the flexibility to meet the needs of companies looking to relocate in an efficient manner. The City’s high standards of building quality and design ensure the sustained value of incoming projects and of those around them.

For further information, please contact Brian Preece at (801) 254-3742 or