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Utah is one of four states receiving a Gold Shovel award this year. Area Development, a publication covering corporate site selection and facility planning, announced the winners of the 2012 Gold & Silver Shovel Awards and Utah won the gold alongside Texas, Tennessee and South Carolina.
The Gold Shovel award recognizes economic development agencies that drive significant job creation through innovative policies, infrastructure improvements, processes and promotions that attract new employers as well as investments in expanded facilities. The Gold Shovels are presented annually to the states that have achieved the most success in terms of new job creation and economic impact.
All 50 states were invited to participate by submitting information about their top 10 job-creation and investment projects initiated in 2011. Gold and Silver awards are given based on a weighted score that factors in the number of high-value-added jobs per capita, amount of investment, number of new facilities and industry diversity.
“As the economy slowly recovers, communities are going to great lengths to attract new businesses and to help their existing corporate citizens to expand their business,” said Geraldine Gambale, editor of Area Development. “The states receiving 2012 Shovel Awards deserve special recognition for their efforts.”
Utah is ranked in the 3 Million or Fewer Population category. Utah received the Silver Shovel award in 2007 and 2008. This year is Utah’s first year being honored with the Gold Shovel.
Utah was recognized for its low energy costs, steady employment growth that has averaged 0.6 percent over the past five years, and its corporate tax rate of 5 percent, which is among the lowest in the nation.
The industries that are driving the Utah economy according to the Area Development report are financial services, life sciences, aerospace, advanced manufacturing and software/IT.
IM Flash Technologies is investing $1.5 billion and hiring 200 new workers to expand its facility in Lehi. “Other companies that support this kind of technology are already here, making it easier for the next company to move in,” said Rich Brown, dean of the College of Engineering at the University of Utah. “The state’s high-tech economy just keeps growing.”
Major projects in Utah include EMC’s $7.6 million expansion in Draper, where the digital storage company recently opened a 25,000-square-foot technical support center and plans to employ up to 500 people by the end of 2015. L-3 Communications is spending approximately $6 million to expand its Communications Systems West division in Salt Lake City, hiring about 500 high-tech workers. Hexcel, a leading manufacturer of carbon-fiber composites, plans to spend $650 million to expand its West Valley City operations over the next 10 years, creating more than 600 new jobs. And ITT is spending $120 million to expand its Salt Lake City composites facility, creating 2,700 jobs.