September 1, 2012

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Utah County

Utah Business Staff

September 1, 2012

They are becoming involved with the chamber specifically?
MILAKOVIC: They are coming through us to look for community involvement in other ways through nonprofits and other things—so not just chamber membership. There’s a new interest in nonprofit organizations, donations, things that they can get involved in.

CLYDE: There are still a lot of people on the sidelines waiting to see what is going to happen with the economy and with some of the political issues that are out there, too.

PILMER: The world has become extremely small with the internet and all the technology that is flourishing in this valley. We see a revolution happening—for the United States and our workers to stay relevant, we need to help our young people get trained with relevant skills so they can compete against international competition.

All of you probably saw that Forbes recently ranked Provo as No. 1 for business and careers. Were you surprised to see that?
FOTHERINGHAM: There have been comments made already about the infrastructure development going with the roads and so on, but I’ve seen a different kind of infrastructure with the NSA facility as an example. We are already seeing the cyber security companies coming in. Some have already leased. There will be announcements soon, I think, about other companies that are in the cyber security area. We are going to start reaping the benefits of this infrastructure development.

FUGAL: There are a number of defense contractors and engineers that are going to be establishing offices and expanding their presence in Utah over the course of the next six to 12 months as a result of the NSA facility, and those deals are out for signature right now. I don’t think that anyone fully realizes the full, positive economic impact that we are going to see as a result of so many significant development projects.
These are not speculative developments. These are all user driven projects. You take Adobe, NSA, eBay and fully leased buildings at Thanksgiving Park and it’s going to drive some dynamic expansion along the Wasatch Front. We’ll be referencing this time period 10 years from now–I guarantee it.

SHIMBERG: You mentioned the rankings. There was actually a ranking that came out this morning from CNBC that showed Utah taking the No. 2 spot as far as the best place to build a business from a cost perspective. It is a significant point in time for us.
We also need to look at the places that are losing their rankings and see what they did to make them slip. Some of it is around infrastructure, like Virginia where you have gridlocked interstates around the clock. What can we learn from that as we want to maintain our spot on the ranking?

FUGAL: This is the year that mass transit comes to Utah County. It’s going to be an exciting time with the FrontRunner station at Thanksgiving Point opening and really tying Utah County into the rest of the Wasatch Front. Employers are looking at that more closely as they are grappling with the challenges of recruitment and retention.

We’ve got a lot of entrepreneurs in the room. Does Utah County have what is needed to sustain the area’s entrepreneurial culture?
SHIMBERG: When I came here, one of my concerns was would we actually be able to build a business? Was there enough in Utah Valley to give us the employee base we needed and the supply partners we needed?
We found all that. We found an employee base that is smart, intelligent, engaged, with a hard work ethic. We have not had a hard time building out the employee base and retaining that employee base. That’s a big difference from what I experienced on the East Coast, where you’ve got a lot of transition of employees. You have employees job hopping constantly, and we are not seeing that.
You are able to build a business here based on strong employees, good work ethic, loyalty, great partners in a way that I have not seen in other areas. But it will present challenges to keep that—the growth will create new challenges, but I’m not surprised we are on the top of the list.

BALL: There is one other strength that we see because of the nature of our business and that is the multinational, multicultural awareness and skill set of our employee base. We have more individuals who speak multiple languages than, I believe, any other region in the United States because of the nature of our community, and we see that affecting our global business.
Eighty-five percent of our staff are non nationals, are individuals who are from other countries. And as they come, their comfort, their joy, their experience here is very rich. They come to the Mountain West thinking they are going to experience a certain stereotype, and they end up experiencing a very open, engaged, multicultural community, and that has been positive for our work base.

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