Should you meet Utah Governor Gary Herbert in his office in the State Capi...Read More
“We were a little leery about building in Tooele, because we were unsure of the quality and availability of the workforce,” says Dave Eichman, logistics operations director for Reckitt Benckiser. As a result, the company hired a consultant to conduct an extensive study of the local workforce through interviewing local employers, employees and other individuals in addition to analyzing demographic and other data. “The consulting study findings reported a highly competent and willing workforce in Tooele,” says Eichman.
Based on those finding and a number of additional factors, Tooele was ultimately selected for the company’s new regional distribution center. “Interestingly, everything that was found in the original study was substantiated as we opened and staffed the new facility,” says Eichman.
Recently, household names in the IT and software industry found the same quality of workforce in the highly competitive IT industry. Adobe is building a large new campus in Lehi, Utah, Twitter opened its first company-owned data facility just south of the Adobe campus in Orem, Utah, and Oracle is completing construction on a major new data center a little north in West Jordan, Utah. These facilities are all within a few miles drive of eBay, Microsoft and IM Flash Technologies locations. This concentrated area in Salt Lake and Utah counties is becoming known as “Silicon Slopes” in the industry.
The State has developed a number of incentive programs that can provide attractive additions to strong basic business factors. These creative additions to the package are both highly attractive to the potential recipients and fiscally sound and low-risk to the state. “Incentives can be important in tipping the balance in favor of Utah or a particular location in the state,” says Oliver. “Our incentives are post performance based, so it is always cash-positive to the state.”
A Partnership Approach
Oliver attributes much of Utah’s successful recruiting to a partnership approach in working with companies considering locating in Utah. “The way I approach recruiting is partnership—is it a good fit,” says Oliver. “The worst thing that could happen is that a company comes, it’s not a good fit and they don’t like it here. When we approach it as a partnership, and it’s a good fit for the company and for the state, we know they are going to be successful, the employees are going to be happy and they are going to be a good corporate citizen.”
Looking for that fit on both sides is a major part of the successful recruiting effort by Oliver and her team. With major companies that have moved to the state, including Adobe, Goldman Sachs, Hershey and Disney Interactive, discussions ultimately centered on these fundamental questions that formed the basis for future relationships and commitments. “With all of these major companies, we had the basic discussion around whether it makes sense to form this partnership,” says Oliver “Those are the types of questions they were asking and we were asking.”
Measure of Success
Despite the impressive statistics the state has compiled over the past few years, Oliver relies on one simple factor as a prime indicator of success: repeat customers. “We helped eBay expand their workforce by 200 people in Utah a year ago, and they were so happy with the way things worked out along the three key factors (workforce, business environment, quality of life), they came back two months ago to move 200 more,” says Oliver. “Goldman Sachs was the same story. Their first Salt Lake City-based office was so successful that now Goldman Sachs’ business units around the world are looking at Utah as a place for them to expand.”
As leading organizations pile up successes in the State, it raises questions in other executives’ minds about what they might be missing. “Word of mouth spreads very quickly,” says Oliver. “I’m now talking to people who ask ‘what’s going on in Utah that I need to be a part of?’ They don’t want to miss an important strategic move.”