2015 turned out to be an impressive year for economic development in Utah.
“During the calendar year we conducted 62 site visits and posted 36 project wins, while managing a project pipeline that averaged 183 projects throughout the year,” says EDCUtah President and CEO Jeff Edwards. “Our pipeline is as full as its ever been and we see no signs of a slowdown.”
Economic development is never easy, but EDCUtah’s 2015 success was likely assisted by the fact that Utah is at the forefront of sustainable growth and led the nation in job growth for seven months in 2015. “Business leaders can’t help but notice Utah’s stable economy and consistent job growth, adds EDCUtah Chief Marketing Officer Michael Flynn. “And when we weren’t number one in job growth we were second, which is still fantastic,” he says.
As of November 2015 data from the Utah Department of Workforce Services, Utah’s year-over job growth rate was 3.6 percent – almost double the national rate of 1.9 percent – which corresponds to 48,400 jobs added to Utah’s economy. What’s more, higher paying information jobs in the state grew 7.5 percent in 2015, continuing a trend of IT industry growth in the state that has also been adding jobs much faster than the national average.
Of the organization’s 36 project wins, EDCUtah Director of Business Development Erin Laney says the companies that announced relocation or expansion decisions will add 15,114 jobs to the economy while retaining an additional 5,115 jobs that were at risk of leaving the state. “In addition to the job creation, these companies represent capital investments in Utah totaling almost $1 billion,” she continues.
Some of the notable expansion or relocation decisions announced in 2015 include Solar City, with 4,000 jobs in Draper; Vivant Solar, with 4,342 jobs in Lehi (plus 800 retained); Health Catalyst, with 291 jobs in Salt Lake City (plus 300 retained); and Procter & Gamble, with 230 jobs in Bear River City.
Utah’s targeted industries are also growing jobs at an impressive rate. According to data from the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED), Utah’s six strategic industry clusters employed 193,155 Utahns in 2015, up from 187,281 in 2014, demonstrating 3.1 percent growth. Those targeted industries include aerospace and defense, energy and natural resources, financial services, life sciences, outdoor products, and software development / information technology.
Looking ahead, EDCUtah Chief Operating Officer Todd Brightwell says he expects 2016 to mirror the impressive accomplishments of 2015. “Utah’s economic growth is certainly sustainable because we have the third most diverse economy in the nation and we continue to attract businesses from across the country and globe,” he explains. “We have consistent, high volume in the number of projects we are working, which leads to a stable flow of companies making site visits to Utah, and ultimately to project wins.”
Edwards adds that EDCUtah’s emphasis on proactive recruiting is working well and will continue to contribute high-value projects to the pipeline. “We have great expectations for 2016. We are laser focused and with the strength of our economy, our partnerships with GOED, our investors and the wonderful business ambassadors that assist us, we see a world of opportunities awaiting us,” he concludes.