Boosting job growth, more businesses relocating to Utah

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Approximately 102,000 Utahns are still looking for jobs.

Despite the discouraging number, Utah has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country. Still, the state is in dire need of an employment infusion. As jobs are slowly returning to Utah, the governor's office has set a goal to meet the need that might seem ambitious: 100,000 new jobs in 1000 days.

This goal is not exactly uncalculated, however. Utah has one of the lowest corporate tax rates in the country, energy costs are 35 percent below the national average and 90 percent of Utah residents hold a high school diploma. These factors have not only helped businesses expand in Utah, they have also helped companies keep jobs local, instead of exporting them to other countries.

According to Lifetime Products President Richard Hendrickson, the company prides itself on keeping jobs in Utah. And with core technology that allows them to mold a ribbon of plastic into a kayak in 90 seconds locally -- instead of the 90 minutes it takes in China -- they are looking to expand their Utah employee base, which is currently made up of 1700 employees.


"The fact that we are able to add 140 jobs over the next 10 years is a big deal," Hendrickson said. "[As well as] the fact that we've been able to keep our jobs here over the last 10 years"

Lifetime Products, like other companies, has considered expanding overseas but found Utah had a better business environment.

One of the things that makes Lifetime Products so unique is vertical integration. Train loads of steel and plastic are all ending up in products like their tables, chairs and other products are available in Utah.

Jeff Edwards is President of EDC Utah --a private and public partnership that helps local businesses grow and works to attract new companies. According to Edwards, Utah is now among the top spots businesses look to expand and relocate.

"Utah has the advantage of a very stable economy right now and it's a place where businesses can find certainty," Edwards said. "It's become a preferred destination of a company."

Utah has the advantage of a very stable economy right now and it's a place where businesses can find certainty. It's become a preferred destination of a company.

–- Jeff Edwards

Whether looking for certainty or something else these companies feel Utah has, Procter & Gamble, ITT, Home Depot, Adobe, Ebay, and Boeing all announced expansions in Utah this year; Litehouse Foods looked at locations all over the west before deciding on Hurricane for its new facility, which will eventually add 162 new full-time positions in the rural community.

"One of the reasons, in fact, probably the number one reason that people select Utah is because of our workforce," Edwards said.

Hendrickson agrees and offers further explanation.

"We've got the most capable, dedicated, honest workforce," he said. "There were reasons to look all over the world for places to expand. But at the end of the day, with the governor's help, we are right back here in Utah, which is where we want to be."

But Utah does have some hitches that may discourage particular types of businesses from expanding and relocating to the state. For the outdoor industry, air quality hinders that decision. For others, it may be demographic. Utah's workforce is strong now, but one of the challenges business leaders say Utah faces in the future is maintaining an educated and skilled workforce.

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Scott Haws


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