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Fox File: Site Selectors Come to Utah

November 8, 2021

Alongside the Northern Utah Economic Alliance and Ogden City, EDCUtah had the pleasure of co-hosting Area Development’s “Consultants Forum” last week. It was a great opportunity to have 24 Site Selectors in our community for an intimate, in-person 2 ½ day gathering. And honestly, it felt great to finally be able to host an event that wasn’t online! 

In addition to 24 Site Selectors, there were another dozen or so economic development organizations that participated in the conference as well. We enjoyed networking with the consultants and benchmarking with our peers in other communities. 

I thought I’d share a few key learnings with you: 

As you’re all familiar with now, the majority of our pipeline is made up of manufacturing projects. All in all, this is a great thing for Utah – and honestly a great thing for our country. Being at a conference like this confirmed that this shift in our pipeline is attributable to the Covid-induced evolution in consumer habits and the supply chain breakdowns that are so apparent. As we suspected, many other Economic Development Organizations nationally are experiencing the same trend: strong demand for manufacturing facilities. Similarly, many other markets are also dealing with a dearth of ready-to-go industrial real estate. Additionally, other markets are also experiencing labor shortages. 

What did we learn from this?  

  1. Participate in the Certified Sites Program! Find out more here.
  2. Gone from site elimination to site inclusion: Submit sites, even if they don’t meet 100% of the criteria. Investors are getting creative with their engineering teams given a lack of ready-to-go sites nationally. 
  3. Continue to work with your local workforce development partners – a higher labor force participation rate and hidden pockets of talent are a competitive edge. 

 

There was a lot of discussion around growth opportunities in new markets, and the State of Utah is planning and preparing for some. We talked a lot about Electric Vehicles, Life sciences, and the ongoing need for critical infrastructure/data centers. The takeaway here? A lot of things that have felt like they were far off on the horizon could sneak up on us. 

Finally, there was a lot of discussion around increasing corporate focus on environmental, social, and governance issues, with a much greater focus on matters of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Being part of these discussions really validated our organization’s efforts to support our community’s efforts to be a more welcoming community and to create new/better economic opportunity for all. More here.

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