September 1, 2012

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Article

Utah County

Utah Business Staff

September 1, 2012

BALL: The Olympics just uncorked our national and international reputation. But unfortunately, we had the economic downturn. So it was, “Hey, look at Utah,” but no one can afford to come.

GARFIELD: We didn’t quite meet Colorado but we definitely leapfrogged substantially to Colorado’s level as far as the international market. What we have here that Colorado or others don’t is the vast differences in the state. You can go down to Southern Utah and see some gorgeous things. You can go up to Northern Utah and see some gorgeous areas. There is so much diversity here.

MILAKOVIC: The Utah Valley Chamber advisory board got together with businesses and a few others and commissioned a study from BYU. In that study, people ranked the beauty of the area as the No. 2 reason they live here. Surprisingly, some of those things that you would expect—social interaction and those kinds of things—were down lower than educational opportunities. There were some surprising statistics about how long people want to stay, and 67 percent or something wanted to stay in the area.

KAUFMAN: Our company has lots of customers coming here to visit. And when they come, instead of going to lunch down the road, we drive them up to Sundance and point out Bridal Veil Falls as we go up the canyon and talk about the elevation of the mountains. We’re very engaged in helping them understand why we’re here, why it’s exciting to be here, why we’ve got great employees, why they should be doing business with us and why they should be doing business with more companies that are located here in Utah.

SHIMBERG: I came from North Carolina before I moved here. North Carolina has that research triangle park. It’s got Durham, Chapel Hill and Raleigh as a research triangle park that attracts a lot of employees and businesses. When I moved here, I was surprised that I didn’t see a lot of that branding as far as Salt Lake, Park City and Utah Valley as a similar type of a triangle. We should tap into the benefits that Park City and Salt Lake, as far as a gateway to the rest of the world, can offer as we work to attract businesses and employees.

How are we doing in terms of attracting people and workers and helping them feel comfortable and welcomed here?
KAUFMAN: We have a challenge getting talent from Salt Lake to come down here. We are committed to being in Utah County, but it’s made us contemplate if we need to move to Lehi or American Fork so that we can get people that live on the south part of Salt Lake, where the commute is not too bad.
But I believe a lot of the workforce in Salt Lake maybe looks down a little bit on Utah County. “They think, “Wages are lower; I cannot make as much money there. It’s too conservative. It doesn’t fit the way I think.” There is still a big cultural divide between the two areas.

PARDEW: I’m trying to bring people from all over the world, not just Salt Lake. And one of the stumbling blocks we deal with is the fact that we are not the perceived center of the universe, and people tend to say, “If I come work there, what if I decide to get another job? There is nowhere else I can go to.”
They look at Utah County as just a place they’ll live for a while, and then they’re going to move on. That is a big problem, and it’s not something that we are going to solve overnight We have to build an awareness that this is a place with a diversity of companies and that there are plenty of opportunities to be able to grow their careers.

CLYDE: Utah for a lot of years suffered from a misconception from people in other areas of the country because of the high concentration of LDS people. It seems like the Salt Lake area, the Park City area, has done a pretty good job of saying that is not so much the case because over 50 percent of the people in Salt Lake Valley are not affiliated with the LDS Church. But Utah County still has that stigma: “We are going to not feel comfortable there because of the culture.”
We can talk about diversity of language and all those things, but there is still that stigma about the Utah County area. Even people in the Salt Lake area have that.

ANDERSON: Especially people in the Salt Lake area. Although it’s becoming dispelled a lot more than it used to be. I spent eight years in Silicon Valley as head of corporate real estate for a company. And all the Silicon Valley companies would always look at Utah, and particularly Utah County, and decide it just doesn’t work because of some of the cultural differences that were mentioned.

You look now at IM Flash and Adobe and Microsoft coming, and then you look at the rankings that we’ve had. Your first question was: Is that a surprise to you? It’s really not because we’ve become accustomed to it. We’ve had so much attention for the entrepreneurial groundwork that is set here and the multi language capability, et cetera, that it’s not a surprise anymore. And for a lot of those companies, that perception is dispelled and is not an issue.

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