Public development: Year in review

As EDCUtah began its 30th year in business, newly appointed CEO Theresa Foxley led the charge for an organizational shift that she affectionately coined “EDCUtah 3.0.”

One major part of this shift was the reestablishment of the Public Development (PD) Department. The focus of this department would be to provide EDCUtah member communities with the tools they need to win more corporate recruitment and expansion opportunities.

In early 2017, Max Backlund—then Business Development Manager with EDCUtah—was promoted to EDCUtah’s PD Director. With a Juris Doctorate degree and a Master’s degree in  City and Metropolitan Planning, Backlund has worked to empower Utah communities to capitalize on their strengths in order to increase their chances of winning corporate recruitment projects.

“Max will work to put EDCUtah’s institutional knowledge into the hands of our organization’s public-sector investors to help them be more successful in their economic development efforts,” said EDCUtah COO Michael Flynn at the relaunch of the PD Department. “Our public-sector members are really excited about this and we feel fortunate that EDCUtah has the footing and knowledge quotient to add this level of customer service for them.”

Since the 2017 relaunch, the PD team created the Development Ready Communities program which helps communities identify and market their competitive advantages. This program catalyzed the addition of 10 new public-sector members to EDCUtah’s books, bringing the total number of Utah community members to 69. The PD Department also participated in Governor Herbert’s 25k Rural Job Tour, completed 328 projects with member communities, helped 20 Utah communities attend the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) RECon Trade Show, and awarded over $46,000 to Utah communities through the Community Match Grant program.

One of the biggest successes for the team was the certification of Utah’s first Mega Site in Elberta, which was followed by the creation of the official Utah Mega Site Program. The program received $225,000 in legislative funding to be used for Mega Site grants, site marketing, and the hiring of a program coordinator.

As the work of the department grew, EDCUtah hired a second full-time employee. In her role as a Community Strategist, Katherine Morrell now oversees management of the Mega Site Program, the Community Match Grant Program, and supports Backland with the Development Ready Communities Program.

The past year has been transformative for the PD Department as they have developed new ways to provide value to member communities, expanded their product offering, and focused on community strategy. With that departmental growth, EDCUtah is excited to announce a change of name for the Public Development Department to Community Strategy (CS) Department. This name is more reflective of the mission and goals of the department to assist Utah communities with economic development preparation, data, marketing, and strategic planning..

Looking to the future, the CS Department will continue to build the Utah Mega Site Program, award the next cycle of Match Grants, and continue to prepare Utah communities for corporate recruitment opportunities through the Development Ready Communities program.

“Our mission is to serve as a catalyst for quality job growth and increased capital investment in the state,” said Theresa Foxley, EDCUtah President & CEO. “I’m excited to see how the Public Development Department is making our members more competitive on the national, and even global, economic playing field.”