Companies like eBay, Adobe, IM Flash and FireEye are building their facilities in the Beehive State because that’s where their honey is — a strong supply of skilled workers, a business climate that encourages and rewards high-tech enterprise growth and the technical infrastructure statewide that is critical to their businesses.
"Statewide" is the operative term, because Utah’s business infrastructure is not limited to the metro Salt Lake area and the Wasatch Front. Procter and Gamble has a successful manufacturing plant in Corinne, in northern Utah, and roofing supplies manufacturer GAF Materials is building a plant in Cedar City, in the southwest corner of the state.
"GAF selected Utah as the site for building its next commercial roofing manufacturing facility based on the favorable economics of the location, the strong work force and the support of the local and state governments," says James C. Murphy, vice president, business development. "This facility will help us more efficiently meet increasing demand for our products throughout the western region of the U.S."
Utah is home to the closest inland port to all five western seaports — one rail-day away — and has more than 600 flights per day from its international airport at Salt Lake City, a Delta Airlines hub.
Cyber-threat protection company FireEye is bringing 250 jobs to Salt Lake County because of Utah’s "talented technical work force and favorable business environment," according to Tony Kolish, FireEye senior vice president, customer services. "Utah offers an excellent location for FireEye to put a technical customer support center."
1-800-CONTACTS is investing $59 million to expand its Salt Lake County R&D, manufacturing, fulfillment, technology and customer support functions. "We have made our home in Utah since our founding, and look forward to creating more jobs in our home state," says Brian Bethers, president of 1-800-CONTACTS, which serves more than 3 million customers annually.
And Edwards Lifesciences Corp., a global leader in the science of heart valves and hemodynamic monitoring, opened a new, 300,000-sq.-ft. (27,870-sq.-m.) facility in Draper in 2010 that significantly expands its manufacturing and development capabilities. The company has had operations in Utah for more than a decade.
"Our work here supports our mission of developing innovative technologies in the areas of structural heart disease and critical care monitoring that enable clinicians to save and enhance lives," says Rich Lunsford, corporate vice president, Cardiac Surgery Systems for Edwards. "Because of the support of the governor’s office in helping Edwards find the right kind of facility to accommodate our future growth and opportunities, we have been able to establish a showcase facility in Draper where we host physicians and colleagues from around the U.S. and the world for manufacturing, training and development activities."
Lunsford says Utah is building a strong presence in medical technology and has a highly skilled work force. Many of the jobs at Edwards’ Draper facility are manufacturing-based, providing employees with the opportunity to work on advanced medical technologies that help to save and enhance lives. The company currently employs about 550 people in Draper and has plans to reach more than 1,000 jobs in the next few years.
"Utah has established a friendly business climate," says Lunsford, "and this, along with the direct support and efforts of the state government with our company’s leadership and the proximity to Edwards’ global headquarters in California, has provided an environment conducive for expansion."