October 1, 2012

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What Doesn’t Kill You…

Almost anything can affect the success of a business. Economics, location ...Read More

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Mission Critical

Hill Air Force Base is a Core Engine in Utah’s Economy

Gaylen Webb

October 1, 2012

The industry is one of the state’s most rapidly growing as well, second only to the software and IT cluster, according to the Economic Development Corporation of Utah (EDCUtah). For its fiscal year just ended, EDCUtah reported 709 new jobs added to the aerospace cluster, with 557 jobs retained.

“Utah enjoys a unique collaborative relationship between our aerospace companies, the local communities, the defense contractors, academia and state government leaders. Everyone is working together, which has really made our aerospace and defense industries successful,” says GOED’s Wright.

Further, Wright points to the Utah Test and Training Range (UTTR) as another significant resource that has strengthened Utah’s aerospace industry. While Hill AFB manages the range, it has become a valuable tool for the testing and evaluating of new unmanned aerial systems such as the Predator and Raptor from the Army’s new Rapid Integration and Acceptance Center for Unmanned Aerial Systems facility at Dugway, west of Tooele.

A growing number of companies involved in the development and testing of unmanned aerial vehicles have utilized the UTTR because it offers the largest overland block of supersonic authorized restricted airspace in the continental United States.

The Falcon Hill National Aerospace Research Park is another gem within Utah’s growing aerospace industry. Through an Enhanced Use Lease (EUL) contract between the Department of the Air Force and private developer Sunset Ridge Development Partners, LLC, the $1.5 billion aerospace research park is in development on 550 acres of land on the west side of Hill AFB.

The park is expected to create 15,000 jobs in northern Utah over the next 30 years. The ICBM Building—the first commercial building developed at Falcon Hill—opened for business last spring. Some 500 employees working for Northrop Grumman and another 100 to 150 employees of its subcontractors moved into the building in March. Meanwhile, the Hill AFB team that works with them on the Intercontinental Ballistic Missile program will get a new building next door.

Sutton says Hill AFB was trying to shoehorn 4,000 additional workers into the base with no additional space to accommodate them. That, a limited budget and the inefficiencies associated with having the ICBM contractors located off base led to the idea of enhanced use leasing—the statutory authority that allows the Air Force to extract the intrinsic value of public land and then get it back in the form of payment in kind.

Falcon Hill now gives the base a strategic advantage in attracting future workloads. Ultimately, the development will generate 1.8 million square feet of new space for Hill with a nest egg of 600,000 square feet.


Hill AFB continues to attract ancillary companies and industries that thrive in proximity to the base. Hill is known for its centers of excellence in advanced composites, software maintenance, aircraft maintenance and missile maintenance, and for its new Falcon Hill aerospace park and new capability in unmanned aerial vehicle maintenance.

In aviation and aerospace alone, Hill has attracted to Utah companies such as General Dynamics, ATK, L-3 Communications, Northrop Grumman, The Boeing Company, Lockheed-Martin, Janicki Industries, Williams International, Moog Aircraft, Barnes Aerospace, FMC Jetway Systems, Parker-Hannifin, Duncan Aviation and SkyWest Airlines.

Utah’s high concentration of aerospace companies makes it one of the top states in the nation in terms of aerospace employment. That’s according to GOED, which reports that aerospace- and defense-related companies in Utah employ approximately 42,000 people.

The industry is one of the state’s most rapidly growing as well, second only to the software and IT cluster, according to the Economic Development Corporation of Utah (EDCUtah). For its fiscal year just ended, EDCUtah reported 709 new jobs added to the aerospace cluster, with 557 jobs retained.

“Utah enjoys a unique collaborative relationship between our aerospace companies, the local communities, the defense contractors, academia and state government leaders. Everyone is working together, which has really made our aerospace and defense industries successful,” says GOED’s Wright.

Further, Wright points to the Utah Test and Training Range (UTTR) as another significant resource that has strengthened Utah’s aerospace industry. While Hill AFB manages the range, it has become a valuable tool for the testing and evaluating of new unmanned aerial systems such as the Predator and Raptor from the Army’s new Rapid Integration and Acceptance Center for Unmanned Aerial Systems facility at Dugway, west of Tooele.

A growing number of companies involved in the development and testing of unmanned aerial vehicles have utilized the UTTR because it offers the largest overland block of supersonic authorized restricted airspace in the continental United States.

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