Fox Files: ‘Behind the numbers’

We just concluded our fiscal year, which gives us a chance to reflect on the last year and to plan for the year ahead.

Our KPIs were strong, with 35 closed projects that have announced 11,518 jobs, 3.2 million square feet in real estate absorption, and $1.7Billion in capital expenditure. Our goals for next year include increasing the number of new projects starts from 153 to 155 and increasing our close rate from 23% to 25%.

While the numbers tell a great story, there are so many things we accomplished during the last year that are not reflected in our KPIs. The first that comes to mind was a great community supported bid for the Amazon HQ2 project. While we weren’t selected as one of the 20 finalist metro areas, the quality of the process Utah ran earned our COO Mike Flynn a spot at Harvard’s Young American Leaders Conference. Through a great partnership with the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, we put Utah’s best foot forward and helped map out a strategy for attracting 50,000 high paying jobs in the future.

We made some important investments in our internal team, having promoted Taylor Brightwell to be a Business Development Manager and Colby Cooley to our Global Strategies and Outreach Director. And also through our partnership with the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, we added a Mega Sites program to Utah’s economic development offering. This program will be supported through our Match Grant program and will help communities position themselves for transformative economic development projects. Utah is the first state in the Western U.S. to have such a program and we are thrilled to have someone with Katherine Morrell’s educational background leading the charge.

And while Facebook’s announcement of its data center in Eagle Mountain is reflected in the KPIs, making up 970,000 sq feet and nearly $1 billion in cap ex, there were so many experiences leading up to the announcement and following the announcement that will never be captured in those numbers. One of my favorite stories was that during the press event announcing the project, a woman came up to me and asked if I would take her picture of her holding one of the ceremonial shovels. After I snapped a few shots of her in front of the step and repeat, I asked her who she was. She replied by saying, “Oh, I’m just a mom in Eagle Mountain and I thought this was a really great thing for our community so I wanted to be here for the occasion.” First off, there’s no such thing as “just a mom”! I think we can all agree on that. But secondly, I thought it was really cool that this woman, who started and runs an arts organization in Eagle Mountain, who has 5 kids and is helping to raise her sister’s family, was so enthusiastic about Facebook in Eagle Mountain and what it means for the city and the region that she would take the time to attend and celebrate.

This story is a reminder to me that over the course of the next year we can be better about personalizing the economic development story and demonstrating how the work we do impacts individuals, families, and communities. Because after all, that’s the “why” behind everything we do.