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HUNT: Our headquarters is in Silicon Valley, and we see a much higher turnover. The attrition is much higher, because there is always these new startups. It’s a two-edged sword. It’s a good thing for opportunity, but we see a higher turnover, the health costs are higher, and so as a company, we are looking for other locations. Obviously, our office here is promoting Utah for all the reasons we’ve discussed.
I’m a transplant. I came here 23 years ago. Around this table, I think you’d find a lot of us are transplants and we came because we liked the quality of life. Adobe is transferring a big portion of their business from California and investing here, and we want to see that happening with other companies. It’s very viable and you can grow your business at a lower cost, and you don’t have to offshore to India or anyplace else.
CLYDE: But still a lot of those are locating in north Utah County, where they can still attract people from the Salt Lake area. Or people from Salt Lake County will locate in north Utah County because they feel they can just slip over the edge of the Point of the Mountain and still be considered part of the Salt Lake community. So what we’ve got to do is figure out how we can centralize it down here in the Provo/Orem area and have it grow out from that area.
ANDERSON: But that really is becoming centralized as a tech camp.
CLYDE: Yes, and the convention center is a huge thing because, quite frankly, the Marriott is the only place that we’ve had for a meeting area in this whole county outside of our own company headquarters. I don’t want John to feel like I’m trying to get competition, but we need another major hotel in the downtown Provo area because we need to grow that whole convention thing, which would be better for your business too, in the long run. But we don’t really have a lot of good hotel rooms in this county to bring outside people in at a higher level.
I’m glad to see that the Marriott is making a commitment to upgrade its facility because when business people come, they want to come to a higher grade hotel than a lot of the ones that we have in the area now.
MCMULLIN: What we’ve found is that when we bring people in worldwide to work at our facility, they like working where they are working, but they want to live in Salt Lake just because there is not that same feeling of a vibrant social community that Salt Lake has. If Provo can develop that, then you will get people staying and spending their money in Utah County as opposed to going up to Park City and downtown Salt Lake. One of the things we hear the most from people is there is just nothing to do in Utah County.
FOTHERINGHAM: I want the Provo area to develop and to become a magnet as it has been in the past, but the critical mass I see developing is along the technology corridor in the Lehi area. It’s becoming an area unto itself, and I want it to spread all over the valley, but that is really an area of concentration now that is creating a lot of these elements that are attractive to people thinking about moving here as well as those who are already here.
Let’s talk more about the workforce and what you are doing as a company to find the kind of people that you need. What should we be doing as a community to help find the kinds of people that we need?
BOWMAN: I know it’s under the radar a lot, but Utah is really driving choice within public education pretty strongly. As business leaders, you may not know what that could open for you, but there really are great partnership opportunities. I’ll teach whatever you want them to learn, and we can have them job ready at 16 or 17 or 18, and they can get credit for their diploma. So there are huge opportunities to train up these 16 , 17 , 18 year olds in Utah to work at your company tomorrow.
Roger, you have a new role at UVU working with students and tech companies. How do you see the workforce development issue?
ANDRUS: We have a big problem. Let me give you an example: We hear about the Adobes and others going in, but the opposite side is that there are companies going out of business because they cannot hold onto their software engineers. They get a better job and so that company is now out of business. I call it the brain drain. These bigger companies get the best talent.
We have 60,000 students here, and a lot of them leave the valley after they graduate. That needs to be addressed if we are going to look to the future and develop the human capital that will be needed. We need to do a better job of promoting the assets that we already have here, to keep them here, and let them know the opportunities that are coming.
SNOWDEN: I’d like to second that. As a tech guy, I have a small business with eight employees. I’m losing two PHP developers for just family type reasons, but I’m terrified because I cannot replace them. To find a PHP developer in this valley—if you know PHP, you can get a job in an hour. These larger companies are sucking them up left and right and there just isn’t a large enough supply coming out of the universities in those areas.