EDCUtah creates two new positions in effort to be more data driven

The Economic Development Corporation of Utah, under the leadership of newly appointed CEO Theresa Foxley, is committed to becoming a more data-driven organization.

In harmony with this commitment, team members Matt Hilburn and Max Backlund have been promoted to new posts within the organization.

Formerly serving as research manager, Hilburn has been promoted to vice president of research & marketing, while Backlund has been promoted from business development manager to director of public development.

“Matt and Max are two of the brightest economic developers in the state,” says Foxley. “EDCUtah is positioned for great things with both of them in these new roles.”

In his two years as research manager, Hilburn played a key role in the overhaul of the organization’s research processes, producing some of the most sophisticated research and analysis that the organization has ever seen. Backlund, on the other hand, has for the past two years focused on business development in the finance and software sectors.

Both Hilburn and Backlund have extensive educational backgrounds that compliment their new opportunities. Hilburn has a Master’s degree in Econometrics and Quantitative Economics from the University of Utah and is currently the Membership Chair for the Economic Club of Utah. Prior to joining EDCUtah, he spent nearly 10 years working in management, marketing research, statistics and also taught classes on data analytics and applied statistics.

Backlund has a Master’s degree in City and Metropolitan Planning and a Law degree from the University of Utah. Prior to joining EDCUtah, he worked for Salt Lake County’s Intergovernmental Relations and Economic Development departments, working on revolving loan funds and redevelopment areas.

“In his new role as vice president of research and marketing, Matt will be responsible for all facets of our research and marketing functions, including program development, executing on our research agenda and overall marketing program execution,” says Chief Operating Officer Michael Flynn. “This new position demonstrates EDCUtah’s commitment to acting as an honest broker by ensuring all of our marketing functions are founded in hard data.”

Hilburn says he wants to see data behind everything. “It will help us make better decisions and optimize everything we do. We want to tie all of our efforts back to our core objective, which is to bring jobs and capital investment to Utah. Being a more data-driven organization will help us achieve that objective.”

To be more data driven, he says the research and marketing teams will need to establish baselines in some areas of operations and align their efforts with best practices where necessary. “Once we have the baselines set, we’ll be better prepared to support our clients and investors, strengthen the programs we have in place and know where we need to change or improve,” Hilburn continues. “We have a world-class research and marketing team, thanks to the foundation created by Mike Flynn. We will build on the success he has created.”

As the director of public development, Backlund will serve as the primary point-of-contact for EDCUtah’s public sector members, focusing his efforts on economic development preparedness. In his role, he now reports to Hilburn and will devote his talents to help EDCUtah’s public sector investors be more effective marketers of their assets to site selectors and businesses.

“Working with EDCUtah’s public sector members will be a return to my roots as a city planner, and I am eager to get started. Our new toolbox will be a great asset to Utah communities as they build their economic development strategies,” says Backlund.

“At EDCUtah, we understand what a site selector or business wants to know about a location, but many of our community and county investors do not,” says Hilburn. “Our public sector members provide amazing support to us and Max will return that support in his new role as director of public development.”

Flynn says Backlund’s new role enhances EDCUtah’s value proposition to its public sector members. “He will work closely with our public sector investors to help them understand their assets and strategically plan and market their communities for successful project outcomes.”