September 1, 2011

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Utah County Report

Utah Business Staff

September 1, 2011

Utah Valley University has been a huge shot in the arm. It’ll be the largest university in the state here in the fall. That’s a great addition for economic development to see that type of an educational facility here, teamed with one of the great universities, BYU.

The Business Resource Center I’m excited about. And some of the things that are going on with the old Saturn building. That’s going to be completed by the end of October, with the whole concept of one-stop shopping. The facility is still scrambling to get Java engineers, I guess. But that’s been a nice addition to the Utah Valley business scene.

We’re still waiting to see what happens with that Novell division—exactly how they’re restructuring it, if we continue to grow it here.

FOTHERINGHAM: There are also some things happening that you would not expect to happen here in Utah Valley. First of all is the expansion of existing businesses here. I’m working with four manufacturing businesses that are looking to substantially expand.

Yesterday, I had a meeting with a company that is bringing two large companies from California here. They confirmed that they are coming, but they’re waiting to see what’s happening in the economy before they know exactly when they’re going to be here. But that’s going to be thousands of jobs in the south end of the Valley—high-tech manufacturing jobs.

EDWARDS: The unique thing is that some of them—very unexpectedly in this county—are related to extracting industrial minerals. Here we are, going 150 years backwards in some ways, and yet these are companies that want to come and use resources here to make various sophisticated products.

FOTHERINGHAM: Some of those industrial minerals are not actually mined in Utah County; they’re mined outside the county, but they don’t have the population density to support the large number of jobs that are going to be required in these companies. So they’re coming to southern Utah County.

ANDERSON: Mike mentioned entrepreneurism, and that is one of the things we’ve been really recognized for nationally. If you dig deep into the culture, I guess it’s a lot of lemonade stands when we were young. But we have a great culture for entrepreneurism. You’ll see that being one of the fuels that brings us success in the future.

I don’t think we can overstate how important the commercial airline traffic into Utah County is. It’s not going to give us huge business overnight, but if you look at the changes that happened in the Salt Lake Valley when Delta made that its hub, that really was the beginning of putting Utah on the map. I think 35 to 40 percent of the enplanements in Salt Lake now originate in Utah County. That’s a huge amount.

And to echo the importance of Utah Valley University and BYU, with roughly 80,000 students now and getting larger—that base of an educated workforce will really be important for us in the future.

WHITTAKER: U.S. Synthetic had a great expansion to their facility just recently. They’re up to about 750 employees. Right across the street, Lentech just added another 100,000 square feet to their facility.

We’re excited about this new facility that’s a joint venture with UVU. We’ve had an incubator program for businesses since 1989 through CEDO. But this joint venture will allow us about a 20,000-square-foot facility, with over 70 percent of it new companies that we’re working with and mentoring. It’s right across the street from UVU, so we’ll have professors and students interacting with these companies, and professionals that we have already mentoring the companies.

What makes this environment unique for entrepreneurism that isn’t necessarily found in other parts of the state?

WESTERLUND: As far as entrepreneurism goes, a lot of the major industries that are here were started that way. When you look at Novell and WordPerfect, you look at Nu Skin and a lot of these companies, a lot of the major corporations that we have in this area are seeds from one of those two arenas. And that’s fostered an idea that you can go out and do those things.

The other thing that helps support that is infrastructure. When a company grows up and they’re really big, like Novell or WordPerfect, you have all these support industries that come along with it, whether it’s as simple as printing or hotels. These support industries are now in a mature enough state that they can support other companies.

When our company started out, it was just a handful of people. But it wasn’t hard for us to find office space, manufacturing, warehousing, access to the shipping lanes, the talent pool that we needed. What you see here are all the support industries and the infrastructure that a company needs in order to grow.

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