The Race to the Finish

EDCUtah’s fiscal year-end is just around the corner and it looks to be another near-record year for jobs created and retained.

Yet as the year winds down, the organization is keeping its foot off the gas pedal, as evidenced by the year-end push of economic development efforts to spur job creation.

Last week part of the EDCUtah team was in Las Vegas for ICSC RECON, the largest retail real estate convention in the world, while Stephanie Frohman, EDCUtah’s director of Global Strategy and Outreach, was in Washington DC with leaders from USTAR for the TechConnect World Innovation Conference and Expo.

At ICSC, representatives from 15 Utah cities joined EDCUtah as part of the Utah Pavilion. ICSC provides an opportunity for the participating cities to set meetings with the developers and retailers they want to court and “speed date” in a convenient environment over the few short days of the trade show. In addition to meeting with prospective developers and retailers and handing out the ever-popular Utah Properties Book, the Utah effort also involved an evening retail party hosted by Coldwell Banker Commercial Advisers. The party has become a popular venue for city and county economic developers to meet and mingle with clients and tell the Utah story.

Although retail recruitment is not part of EDCUtah’s core mission, the economic development organization has been leading Utah delegations to the convention for more than a decade in order to support the retail development goals of its city and county investors. The National Retail Federation says retail businesses support 393,504 jobs in Utah while adding $21.7 billion to the state’s gross domestic product.

“We have the metrics to show that ICSC is a meaningful event in terms of retail recruitment for our investors and so for as long as they want us to participate, we will keep doing it,” says Michael Flynn, EDCUtah’s chief marketing officer.

Over the years, the ICSC event has grown in value and effectiveness for Utah cities and counties looking to expand their retail base. The first year that EDCUtah hosted a Utah delegation at ICSC five Utah cities participated. That number grew to 21 before the Great Recession and has since stabilized at approximately 15 cities annually. While assisting with the pavilion, EDCUtah promotes Utah as a great place for all types of business: retail, office, commercial and industrial.

Meanwhile, Frohman’s part in the TechConnect conference and expo was focused on targeting specific businesses and industries for recruitment. She says the event is largely designed to accelerate the commercialization of innovations out of the lab and into industry and it has a lot of overlap with industries that EDCUtah is targeting. The conference features a Technical Program that spotlights applications-focused innovations, materials and devices emerging from industrial, government and academic laboratories worldwide, while the Innovation Partnering Program gathers market-ready, commercially-viable, innovations into the largest global technology accelerator program.

On June 8, EDCUtah investors and friends will meet on the links at Eaglewood Golf Course on the hillside above North Salt Lake in Davis County for the sold out, best ball Golf for Grants Tournament. Some 36 teams will battle for bragging rights while raising money for community economic development efforts across the state.

Later in June, part of EDCUtah’s Global Strategy and Outreach team will conduct a recruiting campaign to Northern California, while Nick Dall, project manager for Global Strategy and Outreach, will participate in the Select USA 2016 Investment Summit with leaders from the Governor’s Office of Economic Development.

Of the Northern California recruiting trip, Flynn says the Global Strategy and Outreach Team just began arranging meetings and has already received a phenomenal response. To date the team has six meetings set up with leaders from Northern California businesses. Two of the businesses are unicorn companies with more than $1 billion valuations.

“We are excited about the meetings we have already set up and expect to arrange even more before the trip takes place,” says Flynn. “There is tremendous interest from Northern California companies wanting to know more about doing business in Utah and this is a gigantic opportunity for us.”

Regarding the Select USA summit, Dall says EDCUtah looked at the foreign-owned companies participating in the Summit and saw an opportunity to connect with them. SelectUSA was created at the federal level to showcase the United States as the world’s premier business location and to provide easy access to federal-level programs and services related to business investment. EDCUtah has a direct interest in attracting foreign-owned companies to Utah and helping existing foreign-owned companies grow here.

“We are on target for another great year,” says Flynn. “Our foot is on the gas pedal in terms of business recruitment and outreach and there’s no letting up.”