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Utah Valley has a unique entrepreneurial vibe that has led to tremendous growth and has branded the area as Utah’s tech corridor. While this innovative drive is part of what sets Utah Valley apart, it also presents unique challenges to the area, such as a shortage of tech workers. Here, regional business leaders discuss the area’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as share their excitement for its future.
We’d like to thank the Utah Valley Convention Center for hosting the event. We’d also like to express our appreciation to Val Hale, president and CEO of the Utah Valley Chamber of Commerce, for leading the discussion.
James Moyes, Redstone Advisors
Jeff Simonsen, Central Bank
John Richards, BoomStartup
Stan Lockhart, IM Flash Technologies
Russ Fotheringham, EDCUtah
Mike Alder, BYU
Dixon Holmes, Provo City Economic Development
Danny Wheeler, Global Spectrum
Jarrod Hunt, Cushman & Wakefield
Joel Racker, Utah Valley Convention & Visitors Bureau
Val Hale, Utah Valley Chamber
Brandon Fugal, Coldwell Banker Commercial
Greg Pesci, ProPay
Randy Scott, MultiLing
John Garfield, Provo Marriott
Tennille Wanner, Utah Valley Convention Center
Source: Department of Workforce Services
What is the economic outlook for Utah Valley and is there a general theme for what’s happening here?
FUGAL: The theme right now is dynamic economic expansion. Utah County seems to be outpacing most other markets. Our north Utah County market is commanding almost the same absorption that the entire Salt Lake Valley is commanding, at least in the office market. That’s a powerful statement.
Utah County has always demonstrated that it has a young entrepreneurial workforce that is unique. But now, more than ever before, companies have identified the ability to recruit and retain from Salt Lake County while also maintaining their Utah County workforce presence. We’ll see continued economic growth and expansion also as the NSA facility is completed, although we have not seen any real measurable impact from that as of yet.
RACKER: Downtown Provo is kind of a metaphor for what’s going on in the county overall. There’s a lot of revitalization, rebuilding, things happening down here—and it’s radiating out from the hub of Provo. Lehi is giving us a good run for our money with the amount of development up there. But the companies that are moving large headquarters here are just an example that the county is very dynamic right now.
HOLMES: One of the themes is technology innovation. But one of the challenges that we’re having is our low unemployment rate, because businesses are having a hard time recruiting and keeping the people they need. And that’s a big problem to have.
The technology sector is really driving what’s happening in Lehi and Provo/Orem. It’s unprecedented. The names of the companies that are here, the recognition that Utah Valley is getting from outside the area—national media and publications that are coming here—and they’re saying, “Really? In Utah Valley?” And the monies that are been invested—capital investments—and the financial backing are all very impressive.
FOTHERINGHAM: A lot of the projects that we have at EDCUtah that are looking at Utah Valley, they are technology projects. Companies have discovered that there are a lot of tech-trained people coming out of the universities, but they need the middle-management people, particularly those who have experience in the technology field. They are having to go outside of Utah to find what they are looking for, because we’re running into a shortage of the people that they need right now.
ALDER: From my perspective, having just been here seven years and raised in the Salt Lake Valley, I see a dramatic change. There is a grassroots effort going toward technology business creation. I head the Technology Transfer Group from the university, and I’m excited about business creation opportunities as well.
Provo City’s incubator, Pat King, has met with me to talk about his desire to be the catcher’s mitt for young companies that are developing. BYU is coming out with about 10 to 20 world-class inventions every year. And the opportunity for those to locate here is a significant one.