The woodworker’s plane helps shape and smooth raw lumber into precise form and functional purpose. It is the culmination of a journey of one industry and the beginning of something new. For virtually every trade, there is an associated toolbox. From contracting to construction and poetry to pastels, every craftsperson relies upon the tools of their trade to carry out the desires of his or her talent and determination.
Similarly, the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) has a well-stocked toolbox that is accessible to all Utah business owners and entrepreneurs. The GOED toolbox—or rather, deluxe mobile workshop—contains numerous indispensable tools that are transformative to the raw materials of business. Whether helping to keep existing business intact or facilitating the expansion of new business and operations, the GOED toolbox is the ideal resource both for businesses native to the state and for those considering Utah for the first time.
Throw open the powder coated steel shell and find lined up an array of job-specific Business Resource Centers (BRCs) and Business Outreach hardware by the Economic Development Corporation of Utah (EDCUtah). Open the modular drawers to reveal the Procurement Technical Assistant Center (PTAC) and the Post-Performance Incentives Program, GOED’s digital level and electronic stud finder. There’s the ratchet set in the Utah Health Exchange, a market-driven healthcare reform system specifically calibrated to Utahns’ exacting standards. There are also professional-grade power tools like GOED’s cluster-industry development and Team Global Utah, two devices that build reinforced foundations for the state’s strongest industries both within Utah, and in the global marketplace.
Because of the collaborative prowess of GOED’s programs and partners, the tools in GOED’s collection have a constructive power far beyond their intended use. And in the hands of Utah’s highly skilled and innovate workforce, well, the only limit is their imagination.
TOOLSET: Strategic Industry Development
In terms of leverage, the most powerful tool in GOED’s arsenal is likely its cluster industry development program. With a blueprint for building up entire industries, the State is able to foster the success of untold numbers of businesses—and the economy as a whole.
Utah is rich with geographic concentrations of interconnected companies, specialized suppliers, service providers and associated institutions within specific industries. The clusters program focuses on seven industries: Aerospace & Aviation, Energy & Natural Resources, Life Sciences, Software Development & Information Technology, Defense & Homeland Security, Financial Services and Outdoor Products & Recreation.
“Over 160,000 Utahns work in companies aligned with our clusters initiative, and these sectors are some of the hottest, fastest-growing industry sectors across the country. For example, Utah’s life sciences industry has added employees each and every month for the past 10 years,” says Managing Director Gary Harter.
The cluster program’s formula for success involves a vibrant R&D environment, robust commercialization activities, access to capital, interconnections within industries, supportive government and access to a skilled labor force. GOED’s cluster strategy draws on partnerships with industry associations, the Utah Science Technology and Research initiative (USTAR), Economic Development Corporation of Utah (EDCUtah), academia, local chambers of commerce, local elected officials, federal agencies, military installations, local economic development organizations and many others.
TOOLSET: Growth Assistance
The clusters program takes a macro approach to building the economy, but GOED also has a handy set of tools that aid companies on a micro level. GOED’s assistance toolset is precision crafted to help local companies grow.
For example, statewide Business Resource Centers bring together essential business resources under one roof. The BRC array of tools include assistance with business plan development, small business loan applications, license and registration of a business, human resources, exporting, lean manufacturing or connecting with higher education for R&D support.
The BRCs rely on a network of partners to expand their service offerings. “Many of the centers have co-located with SBA Small Business Development Centers, SCORE chapters, U.S. Export Assistance Centers and Manufacturing Extension Partnerships. They truly are one-stop-shops that provide significant assistance to new and expanding businesses,” says Business Development Director Riley Cutler.
GOED’s Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTAC) are also co-located with many of the BRCs. PTACs help companies succeed in the government contracting game. Every year the federal government purchases products and services worth billions of dollars, from weapons systems and information technology to uniforms and custodial work. State and local governments also spend millions of dollars each year purchasing goods and services. PTAC’s mission is to be the one-stop shop for businesses interested in winning government contract work.
GOED operates nine regional PTAC offices around the state. The centers offer free, one-on-one counseling and group workshops to Utah small businesses. In 2010, PTAC helped Utah companies win over $500 million in government contracts.
Utah is also deploying cutting-edge tools to help companies tackle deep-rooted problems like the rising cost of health insurance premiums. The State has developed and implemented the nation’s most comprehensive health insurance exchange portal—the Utah Health Exchange.
The internet-based Exchange is a market-driven portal that allows employers to offer their employees a “defined contribution” or specified amount of pretax dollars set aside for the purchase of an employee-selected health plan from a menu of various plans and prices. This allows employees, rather than employers, to compare and select the health plan that works best for their individual needs.
“The value of the Exchange to small business owners is two-fold: first, owners choose the dollar amount they can afford to contribute to employees, which keeps costs predictable year over year; second, healthcare is always a large driver for attracting and retaining high-quality employees. The Exchange keeps businesses competitive, both in regards to their bottom line and in finding top talent,” says Patty Connor, Director of GOED’s Office of Consumer Health Services, which manages the Exchange.
By statute, all plans offered through the Exchange must meet federal standards for employer-sponsored coverage.
TOOLSET: Responsible Recruitment
With a robust set of tools for helping local companies in one drawer of the toolbox, GOED has stocked another drawer with valuable devices for attracting and assisting companies that want to begin doing business or expand their current operations in the State.
Government-sponsored incentives, for instance, are often a crucial factor in business site selection. Utah offers an ample variety of incentive options—all of which are performance based. Incentives can be received in the form of tax credits or grants to businesses based upon three criteria:
Post-performance. The incentives are disbursed after the business has met contractual performance benchmarks such as job creation and payment of new state taxes.
Single Taxpayer. Incentive amounts are based upon new state taxes generated by the project.
Competition. The incentive must make Utah competitive with other locations.
Six post-performance incentives are available to businesses looking to locate or expand operations in Utah, along with funds for employee training (which the state’s colleges and applied technology centers administer). The incentives are:
- Economic Development Tax Increment Financing (EDTIF)
- Renewable Energy Development Incentives (REDI)
- Private Activity Bonds
- Utah Recycling Market Development Zones
- Life Science and Technology Tax Credits
- Motion Picture Incentive Program (MPIP)
All of these incentives offer unique ways to attract and retain businesses. As one example, the Motion Picture Incentive Program (MPIP) has proved wildly successful in drawing film and television productions to the State. After spending seven months in Utah, including approximately 45 days of filming, the Disney/Pixar live-action version of John Carter generated approximately $28 million and 200 jobs for the Utah economy.
Administered by the Utah Film Commission, which is part of GOED, the MPIP offers qualifying production companies up to 25 percent of total dollars spent in the state back in the form of post-performance cash rebates or refundable tax credits.
“The ability to offer either a cash rebate or a tax credit to all different types of filmmakers has increased our production pipeline and has proved to be a great benefit for the local film community and the many businesses that support the industry,” says Marshall Moore, Director of the Utah Film Commission.
Many visitors to Utah are first introduced to the state through films like John Carter and 127 Hours. The Utah Office of Tourism operates an aggressive, multi-faceted marketing program to entice new visitors to the State. One aspect of that is its Cooperative Marketing Program, which has a mission to leverage state and co-op partner funding to attract out-of-state visitors. To achieve that mission, the UOT will match up to $175,000 in out-of-state marketing dollars. Destination marketing organizations and non-profit entities in existence for one year or more are eligible to apply.
In 2011, members of the Utah Board of Tourism Development approved 28 of 32 Cooperative Marketing applications from non-profit tourism entities totaling more than $1.5 million to promote the state to out-of-state visitors.
TOOLSET: MPIP Motion Picture Incentive Program
Utah’s Motion Picture Incentive Program (MPIP) is an important tool in GOED’s job creation toolbox. For example, after spending seven months in Utah, including approximately 45 days of filming, the Disney live-action version of John Carter generated approximately $19.6 million and 275 jobs for the Utah economy.
Administered by the Utah Film Commission, which is part of GOED, the MPIP offers qualifying film production companies up to 25 percent of their total spend in the state back in the form of post-performance cash rebates or refundable tax credits. To qualify, a production must spend a minimum of $200,000 in the state for the 15 percent tax incentive and a minimum of $1,000,000 in the state to qualify for the up to 25 percent incentive. The cash rebate has a cap of $500,000 per project; however, the tax credit has no per project cap. Further, the incentive program offers ongoing funding with no sunset provision and includes qualifying digital media.
TOOLSET: Tourism Co-op Funds
The Utah Office of Tourism’s (UOT) Utah Cooperative Marketing Program has a mission to leverage state and co-op partner funding to attract out-of-state visitors to increase their tourism expenditures. To achieve that mission, the UOT will match up to $225,000 in out-of-state marketing dollars. Destination marketing organizations and non-profit entities in existence for one year or more are eligible to apply.
In 2011 members of the Utah Board of Tourism Development approved 28 of 32 Cooperative Marketing applications from non-profit tourism entities totaling more than $1.5 million to promote the state to out-of-state visitors.
TOOLSET: Key Partnerships
Every craftsman has a tool that he uses on a daily basis—the trusty tool that always seems to get the job done right. GOED’s “secret weapon” tool is perhaps the invaluable partnerships it has created across industry, education and government.
One such partnership is with the Economic Development Corporation of Utah (EDCUtah), which provides centralized economic development and business outreach functions that serve the entire state of Utah. EDCUtah is a public/private partnership, working with state and local government and private industry to attract and grow competitive, high-value companies and spur the development and expansion of local Utah businesses.
“Economic development in Utah is truly unique,” says EDCUtah President & CEO Jeff Edwards. “Working in partnership with GOED and with city and county economic developers, we make it much less complicated for businesses to evaluate Utah locations and resources, and extend our expertise to the local level where limited budgets and manpower may preclude some of our smaller communities from participating in economic development projects.”
Another key partnership is with World Trade Center Utah. Utah is the only state in the country that doubled its exports over the last five years, and GOED is positioned to help Utah businesses expand their exports yet again through assistance from its strategic partner, World Trade Center Utah.
World Trade Center Utah and GOED are seamless partners. Together they provide extensive support to Utah businesses looking for global trade opportunities. As a member of the World Trade Center organization, Utah’s World Trade Center has connections with sister organizations across the globe, and can thus help open doors for Utah businesses in pursuit of global connections.
“Working with our partners, World Trade Center Utah is helping Utah expand its global trade through efforts in cooperation, education and innovation. We help Utah organizations make new international connections, build new business relationships and discover new ways to work together for global trade,” says Lew Cramer, President & CEO of World Trade Center Utah.
As a one-stop shop for global trade, World Trade Center Utah offers a wide range of signature services to Utah businesses through export assessments, education and training, and through connections with relevant global partners, service providers, and higher education and government agencies such as the U.S. Commercial Service Export Assistance Centers.
GOED’s business development toolbox is filled with finely honed tools made of the most advanced materials and designs—all geared for crafting sturdy, well-built businesses and industries. Companies of every type, from micro startups to industry heavyweights, will discover the perfect implement for creating growth, driving innovation and, ultimately, building the strong and diverse Utah economy.