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GOED’s Toolbox

The right tools for the job

By Peri Kinder

In order to practice their trade, skilled craftsmen have an array of specialized tools at their fingertips. Whether they are mechanics, software programmers or attorneys, each has a set of dedicated tools they use on a regular basis to be successful.

Businesses in Utah have a set of professional tools that are organized to help companies run efficiently and effectively in today’s society. The job is made easier given that the raw materials of Utah’s business ecosystem are business people who define themselves by their innovation, renowned work ethic and nation-leading entrepreneurialism. Utah’s best performing economy is framed on those raw materials.
The Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) is committed to creating a business friendly environment and is focused on developing a solid foundation for companies to build on.
“The Governor’s Office of Economic Development has a formula for success, which at first may seem simple, but in practice is very sophisticated and powerful: C2 + E2 = Success,” says Spencer P. Eccles, GOED executive director. “Success is the sum of coordination and collaboration plus efficiency and effectiveness. This formula requires a full understanding and execution by all partners in order to succeed, and I know of no other state that has so fully embraced this formula as has Utah’s business, education and government sectors. That is why Utah is recognized as Forbes magazine’s Best State for Business and Careers year after year.”

With power tool partners like the Economic Development Corporation of Utah (EDCUtah), business resource centers (BRCs), World Trade Center Utah (WTCU), the Department of Workforce Services and the Utah Science Technology and Research initiative (USTAR), businesses in Utah can access an intricate network of partnerships designed to provide unparalleled expertise in a wide variety of industries.
As more out-of-state companies discover the value of Utah’s business climate, new and established enterprises are relocating and expanding in the State. With its proactive and strategic relocation tools such as EDCUtah, GOED can accumulate the necessary data, site information and personal contacts to make integration into the State as easy as possible. Companies like Adobe, Procter & Gamble, Goldman Sachs and eBay have chosen Utah as a catalyst to ramp up their industry endeavors, finding the best possible conditions for doing business.

Growth Assistance Resources

As a private sector partner, EDCUtah is an invaluable tool in the GOED toolbox. For more than 25 years, the organization has been heavily involved with bringing quality jobs and capital investments to the State. Hundreds of business members invest in EDCUtah, creating an environment that helps convince companies to move to Utah. EDCUtah works with State and local government entities, as well as private industry, to effectively get projects in the door.

Additionally, EDCUtah provides a connection with business, community and government entities to help companies perform due diligence while researching a stable location for their industry.
“We currently have 220 projects underway. That number is higher than it’s ever been. Even during the downturn we had some of our best years,” says Todd Brightwell, senior vice president of business development at EDCUtah. “We really demonstrate that Utah is open for business, and we prove that by digging in and helping companies problem solve. We’ve focused our efforts more than ever before and feel like all the components are in place.”
With an unstable national economy, business leaders are looking for safety. Utah’s AAA bond rating, fiscally responsible government programs, post-performance corporate tax incentives, central location and the No. 1 rated economic outlook in the nation are all viable reasons to bring a company to the State.

Recruitment Opportunities and Partnerships

Utah has one of the country’s most educated and skilled workforces with competitive, young, productive individuals vying for jobs in all industries. The business atmosphere in the State is a finely honed tool that attracts a quality workforce through better-paying jobs, enhanced opportunities for education, a high standard of living and a flourishing outdoor recreation industry.
Utilizing established connections with public and higher education, and the Department of Workforce Services, employers have access to trained and talented employees, alumni services and a series of workshops offering vital information for day-to-day operations.
“The governor challenged his office to create unprecedented partnerships. The reality is that challenge has been taken seriously and it’s in place right now,” Brightwell says. “Employers can get the right people on the phone without any trouble at all. They can talk with someone that can directly address any issues concerning their company.”
World Trade Center Utah (WTCU) is an exceptional tool for companies looking to expand into worldwide markets. Through the GOED/WTCU partnership, Utah companies are given incomparable guidance while positioning themselves in the global marketplace. Every year, GOED’s International Trade and Diplomacy Office (ITDO) hosts more than two dozen ambassadors and trade missions, and helps lead Utah companies on several international trade missions. With 95 percent of consumers living outside of the United States, and with 75 percent of the world’s purchasing power coming from foreign countries, creating a global strategy can place a company’s product or service into a new and profitable market.

WTCU and ITDO collaborate to assess a company’s readiness to do international trade and then offer customized market reports to help facilitate global trade and investment. Seminars, workshops, trade missions and training programs motivate and educate business leaders who want to take advantage of the chance to expand. By facilitating connections with overseas agents, distributors, manufacturers, embassies, attorneys and financial contacts, WTCU creates a network of reliable interactions for business leaders.
“We live in a global economy and Utah is uniquely positioned to make us a prime candidate for going forward in the international marketplace,” says Lew Cramer, president and CEO of WTCU. “There are U.S. embassies around the world that focus on how to get Utah and U.S. products into their markets. Companies come into our office and our only job is to make them profitable. I like connecting people and I love helping Utah companies succeed.”

Business-Building Incentives

Some of the most effective tools in the GOED toolbox are Utah’s corporate incentive programs. The most commonly used incentive is the state’s Economic Development Tax Increment Financing (EDTIF) post-performance tax credit model that companies can use to assist in the creation of new jobs through relocation or expansion. The State’s sustainable incentive programs are designed to help maintain Utah’s quality of life and increase the standard of living for residents. The program also allows companies to retain top-level management and a productive workforce, and it encourages graduates of Utah’s colleges and universities to stay in the State.
“Utah’s incentive programs are good for the company, the State and the workforce,” says Christopher Conabee, GOED’s managing director of corporate recruitment and business services.
L-3 Communications Systems-West is a long-term member of the Utah business community and is an award-winning provider of communication solutions for high-performance intelligence collection, surveillance and reconnaissance for the Department of Defense and other government agencies. With more than 4,000 employees, L-3 is one of the larger employers in the State, and it recently qualified for post-performance corporate tax incentives of $5.5 million over the next 10 years. Although the company had excess space in other locations around the world, it chose to add capacity with new operations in the State because of its success in maintaining a high-quality output. Many other firms have taken advantage of the post-performance incentive program offered by the State, including Adobe, eBay, IMFlash Technologies, Boeing, Procter & Gamble, Family Dollar and Workday.

The criteria for receiving an EDTIF incentive include creating at least 50 new jobs during the term of the agreement and offering 125 percent of the county’s urban average salary or 100 percent of the rural average salary. In return, the incented company will receive tax reimbursements of a percentage of the Utah income, wage and sales taxes paid during the agreed term of the incentive. “The incentives provided by the State of Utah through the Governor’s Office of Economic Development helped solidify L-3’s plans to expand operations in the State of Utah,” says Susan Opp, president of L-3 Communication Systems-West. “L-3 has played a significant role in Utah’s economy for over 56 years by providing high-paying jobs with competitive benefits, partnering with other Utah businesses in our supply chain and recruiting from in-state universities. L-3 is proud to be part of a community that supports economic growth. We look forward to our continued partnership with the State of Utah and the Governor’s Office of Economic Development.” L-3 is a good example of the quality of businesses that are choosing to expand or relocate in Utah. The company was named the 2012 Manufacturer of the Year by the Utah Manufacturers Association, and was also nationally recognized for its veteran-friendly practices, receiving the 2012 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award. Recipients of the Freedom Award have demonstrated the ability to go above and beyond in supporting career assistance, as well as providing a variety of services for veterans’ issues. The State’s tax incentive programs encourage business owners to keep employees and jobs in the State, and promote out-of-state recruitment to bring new tax-paying residents to Utah. Because the incentives are awarded post-performance, the State’s tax dollars are never at risk. If a company doesn’t meet the annual projections, it doesn’t receive the portion of the incentive it could have earned for that year. “Utah is a very business friendly state. We hear it every day. We work at the speed of business rather than the speed of government. We’re willing to dig in and spend the extra time to get things done,” Conabee says. “The State is well-managed and we provide some of the best incentive packages, in addition to the State’s high quality of life, low taxes and optimistic business climate.”