Prosperity Post: 5 Overlooked Benefits of Economic Development in Utah

April 19, 2024

Each year, the Economic Development Corporation of Utah (EDCUtah) works with state and local governments, private sector partners, and educational institutions to attract and retain quality jobs and corporate investment in the state of Utah. These efforts result in many positive impacts – some less commonly broadcast than others. You may even take advantage of these assets without realizing it.

The companies that move to or expand in Utah bring many assets to communities, including:

  1. Job growth and opportunities for Utah residents
  1. A multiplier effect in economic impact
  1. Infrastructure improvements
  1. State gross domestic product (GDP) and new tax revenue
  1. Corporate giving programs

1. Job Growth and Opportunities for Residents

Most people, when asked to identify the key to economic success, will say “getting a good job.” On a personal level, a good job can provide financial security, peace of mind, and a sense of accomplishment. A good job can help improve the wellbeing of individuals and families alike.  

Job growth—arguably the most tangible outcome of economic development—is critical to supporting a growing population and providing security for the next generation of workers. With effective economic development plans, Utah has been able to attract companies to the state that would not otherwise be here. Specifically, Utah has targeted high-growth, high-income industries—such as software & IT, life sciences, and aerospace & defense—to ensure Utahns can enjoy the quality of life that comes from working in specialized industries.

Utah’s overall population growth rate (a combination of high birth rate and net in-migration) is the highest in the nation. However, job growth may not always follow to meet the demands of a growing population. As EDCUtah recruits more companies, labor competition follows, leading to higher wages and job options for all Utahns. Intentional economic development can ensure there will always be jobs for the future.

A prime example here is financial services leader Goldman Sachs, which has grown from a few dozen employees in Research Park to more than 3,000 staff in downtown Salt Lake City. Besides providing high-paying career opportunities, the company has had a transformative effect on our capitol city.

2. The Multiplier Effect

Each company’s new jobs and capital investment propel a ripple effect in the economy that can be estimated with calculations used by professional economists. Since industries are interconnected, expansion in one sector impacts others positively as dollars are spent in the region. This is called a multiplier effect. The multiplier effect focuses on the direct, indirect, and induced employment, sales/output, and employee compensation resulting from a corporate expansion or retention project.

Some terminology:  

  • Direct = added by the companies that expand in or move to Utah.  
  • Indirect = created by Utah companies supplying goods and services to the expanded companies.  
  • Induced = created when individuals and families spend their wages at local establishments. 

EDCUtah’s economic development efforts in the 2022-2023 fiscal year resulted in the recruitment or retention of 5,152 jobs. The multiplier effect indicates that 2,199 indirect and 2,773 induced jobs were also created, bringing total new jobs to 10,123. In short, the multiplier analysis illustrates that when one job is brought to Utah, it creates on average nearly one full additional job (0.96).  

Similarly, the direct sales and output of $1.24 billion yields more than $2.1 billion in total sales and output. Direct wages of $375 million yield more than an estimated $650 million in total new annual wages.

A diagram of sales and outputDescription automatically generated
The economic impact of 2022-2023 EDCUtah project wins.

3. Infrastructure Improvements

Utahns also care about the strength and resilience of their communities, and economic development is a catalyst for better community services. Infrastructure provided or funded by companies not only benefits the companies themselves, but also the people who live or work in the region. 

In FY 2022-2023, the companies EDCUtah engaged with to retain or grow jobs in the state also made capital investments of $12.2 billion in real estate or equipment. Many of these companies also supported the development of new power resources, roads, rail, internet, and other critical infrastructure.  

For example, Meta (formerly Facebook) has invested $1.5 billion in capital expenditures on its Eagle Mountain site. The company has also invested in local water infrastructure, including a $200,000 donation to the Central Utah Water Conservancy District’s Hobble Creek Flow Restoration project in Utah County. This donation was designed to ensure the availability of 100 percent more water than the company plans to use—and more water than would have been available if Meta had not come to the community. Meta also has plans to make a $150 million investment to improve local infrastructure such as utilities, sewer, water, telecommunications, and roads.

4. State GDP and Tax Revenue

GDP is a signal of a strong economy that can pay its bills and invest in its residents. From 2011 to 2021 Utah’s GDP nearly doubled and grew more than 1.5 times faster than the national average.  

A proxy for a state’s economic health, an increase in GDP leads to greater resources and ultimately quality of life. For example, Utahns may benefit from closer, less costly access to goods and services.

New jobs and capital expenditure also provide a source of new tax revenue for Utah – revenue that goes back to programs that benefit residents. According to the Governor’s Office of Economic Opportunity (GOEO) 2022 Annual Report, new state revenue from companies that received state economic development tax increment financing (EDTIF) was nearly $57 million from 2004 to 2020. For every $1 of cost to run Utah’s business incentive program, about $4.50 in revenue is added to the state’s coffers.  

Procter & Gamble is illustrative of this ongoing return on investment. In February 2023, the company announced continued expansion of its presence in Box Elder County, with plans to add 300 jobs and invest $400 million. With more than a decade in Utah, P&G is a steady growth agent and has spent or committed more than $1 billion in capital expenditures in that time. The growth story started in 2007 when the company announced plans for its first greenfield site (e.g. from the ground up) in the United States in more than 30 years, with an initial investment of $300 million. Production started in Box Elder in 2011, and expansion followed in 2015 ($400 million) and 2020 ($310 million). About 500 people currently work at the Box Elder facility.

5. Corporate Giving

An often overlooked and somewhat under appreciated consequence of economic development is that great companies give back to their communities. Many companies donate their time, talents, dollars, and other resources to respond to needs in the community. 

Adobe opened its first Utah office in 2009, and the company has been involved in the local community for many years. In 2020, it donated more than $400,000 to twenty local nonprofits in separate $20,000 grants. In the same year, Adobe employees volunteered more than 14,000 hours in the community.

In Closing

Prosperity and “good growth” look different for every community. EDCUtah collaborates with community leaders to understand their unique needs and help them achieve their economic development goals. This includes an analysis of community strengths and weaknesses; targeting specific industries and responsible companies that will benefit the community; developing of an economic development plan; and creating and utilizing key attributes to enhance the community.

Throughout the process, EDCUtah stands ready to assist communities along this path.

“The Prosperity Post” highlights examples of the impact of EDCUtah and our investors in communities across the state. Do you have a story you’d like us to share? Email

Scott Cuthbertson

President & CEO