In What Context do London Business Leaders View Utah?

EDCUtah LogoEDCUtah’s Stephanie Frohman, director of global strategy and outreach, was in London last week to measure the pulse for an EDCUtah recruiting trip there this fall.

Her trip leveraged Delta Air Lines’ London celebration leading up to its inaugural non-stop flight from Heathrow Airport to Salt Lake City International Airport, which began on Sunday.

Utah has always been connected globally, but the addition of this flight – Delta’s third non-stop from Salt Lake City to Europe – is making those global connections much easier for businesses and individuals on both sides of the pond. And for EDCUtah’s international business recruitment ambitions, the non-stop flights are imperative, says Frohman.

“We believe the model we have developed for our domestic recruiting efforts applies equally well to international markets,” says EDCUtah President and CEO Jeff Edwards. “There are numerous international companies looking to establish footholds in the U.S. and Utah has a compelling story because of its global connectivity, strong labor force, low cost of business and bilingual population.”

He explains that Delta’s inaugural flight and celebration created a convenient platform for EDCUtah to measure the pulse and context in London for the fall recruiting trip and Frohman’s experience confirmed the belief that EDCUtah’s model will work internationally. What’s more, thanks to “ambassadorial” connections from BYU and USU alums, Frohman was able to hold highly productive meetings in London with leaders from the financial giant Barclays and the non-profit Innovate Finance, the latter of which is a membership-based organization that has galvanized the FinTech industry in London.

“These two companies are huge players in the financial market and FinTech is exploding in London,” Frohman explains. “FinTech is a term that covers everything from online payments to biometric security to blockchain solutions. Barclays operates a FinTech accelerator and invited EDCUtah to return to London and pitch Utah to the mid-size companies in its accelerator, while Innovate Finance is interested in bringing its leadership team to Salt Lake City to learn more about our market.”

Frohman and the Innovate Finance team also discussed the possibility of EDCUtah hosting a breakfast or lunch with the firm’s 250-plus member companies in London during EDCUtah’s fall recruitment trip.

The meetings with Barclays and Innovate Finance likely would have been much more difficult to arrange without the alumni connections from Utah. “We deeply appreciate the personal introductions set up by our alums,” says Frohman. (Alums from Westminster College and the University of Utah also set up London business connections for EDCUtah, but for later dates.) Further, Edwards says Delta Air Lines has been a strong EDCUtah partner and the airline’s prelaunch event was an important first step in EDCUtah’s efforts to connect with Delta’s corporate partners.

Frohman’s participation in the London trip was hosted by the Utah Office of Tourism. Vicky Varela, managing director, and Becky Johnson, international specialist, led Utah’s participation in the inaugural flight and Delta’s pre-launch event. The airline invited 100 of its travel and tourism partners to attend the “UK/Utah” party, which took place on the top floor of a skyscraper in London. The event featured Utah tourism videos, virtual reality national park experiences and a variety of Utah “Mighty Five” commercials. “We couldn’t have asked for a better venue to showcase the Delta-Utah connection and the Utah Office of Tourism generated a lot interest,” says Frohman.

Before the Delta event, the context she found regarding Utah could be described as mental images of skiing and national parks. The English business leaders Frohman met could name U.S. cities like New York, San Francisco and Boston, but not Salt Lake City. She says Delta’s pre-launch event and the tourism connection was significant because it opened doors to explain that Utah often attracts high-growth companies looking to expand out of New York or San Francisco because of the state’s strong tech market, labor force and low cost of doing business. It was a message that resonated well with the business leaders Frohman met.

“The tourism and business leaders we met were all very excited to see and learn about Utah,” she continues. “We made some great first impressions with this trip and have some wonderful opportunities to develop as we prepare for our fall recruiting trip. We appreciate our partnership with the Utah Office of Tourism and thank Vicki and her team for hosting EDCUtah.”