Utah's Top Economic Development News in 2023

December 19, 2023

Throughout the year, EDCUtah brought you Utah’s top economic development highlights as they’ve happened. As we close out 2023, here’s our list of news worth celebrating. We’ve arranged them in roughly chronological order, but we’d like our readers to weigh in.  

Tell us: How would you rank these stories, in order of importance?  

Building for Future Success

The start of 2023 was also the start of new tenures in leadership at the Economic Development Corporation of Utah (EDCUtah) and the Governor’s Office of Economic Opportunity (GOEO). Scott Cuthbertson joined EDCUtah as president and CEO, succeeding Theresa Foxley, and Ryan Starks took the reins as GOEO executive director, succeeding Dan Hemmert.  

In tandem with the EDCUtah leadership change, our organization added four new staff members in the third quarter, with three more hires planned for the fourth quarter. Val Hale also joined EDCUtah as a community ambassador consultant. These changes support the implementation of EDCUtah’s new five-year strategic plan, which builds upon several decades of success with a vision focused on long-term economic prosperity. EDCUtah remains true to our core competencies—economic research, professional project management, strategic marketing, and community strategy—while sharpening our focus on strategic recruiting and economic opportunities by sector and geography.

Utah’s Economy Remains Strong

Utah’s economy was ranked No. 1 in the nation by the American Legislative Exchange Council and U.S. News and World Report. These rankings follow more than a decade of similar accolades and 30 years of intentional work by economic development partners across the state. They also set the stage for Utah’s next phase of economic opportunity, as Scott Cuthbertson wrote for the Deseret News.

Strong Showing for Projects Off the Wasatch Front

The push to increase the number of expansion projects in all regions of the state has been a multi-year effort, and 2023 saw some encouraging progress. Throughout the year, “Team Utah” (EDCUtah, GOEO, and local/regional partners) successfully attracted and retained companies across the state. Rural Utah landed 12 projects in manufacturing/distribution, food processing, outdoor products, and other sectors – the highest number of rural projects in a calendar year yet. Some notable wins included Schreiber Foods, C & J Specialties, and Kent Outdoors. Others such as Procter & Gamble and Lakeshore Learning are mentioned below.

P&G Continues to Grow in Box Elder

In February, Procter & Gamble (P&G) 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). Currently about 500 people work at the Box Elder facility.

A Semiconductor Win and a Statewide Initiative

In February, Texas Instruments announced plans to bring up to 800 new high-tech jobs to Lehi during the next 20 years. Capital expenditures associated with the project are $11 billion, the largest investment resulting from a corporate recruitment project in Utah history.

To support this and other CHIPS Act-related projects, in October, the University of Utah launched the Utah Network for Integrated Computing and Semiconductor research and education (UNICOS). UNICOS convenes major employers, higher education, and community partners to collaborate on workforce training and cutting-edge research to create a highly skilled semiconductor workforce and spark innovation. Led by the University of Utah, UNICOS is a network spanning the entire state. ECUtah is pleased to serve on the UNICOS government advisory board.

Continued Progress in Economic Opportunity and Belonging

EDCUtah, the Center for Economic Opportunity and Belonging (CEOB), and other partners released a Toolkit for Building Belonging in April. The digital toolkit offers a collection of proven practices for building cultures of belonging in the workplace. Activities in the toolkit were curated from national sources, Utah focus groups, and Utah employers, and they were vetted by leaders from Utah’s multicultural communities. The toolkit has already exceeded project goals for first year adoption.

In July, the CEOB “graduated” from EDCUtah and became a separate non-profit. The change allows CEOB to expand its mission to address gaps not only in economic opportunity, but also in education, health, and housing in Utah.

Delta Invests in Salt Lake City

In June, Delta broke ground on a new pilot training facility in Salt Lake City, Utah. The new 47,000-square-foot facility is anticipated to bring upwards of $120 million in capital investment to the region. Located next to Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC), this is Delta’s first significant training facility investment outside of its Atlanta headquarters, which opened its first pilot training facility in 1968.  

Utah Recognized as a Fintech Leader

Also in June, the Wall Street Journal covered the opening of the University of Utah’s Stena Center for Financial Technology  We followed up with an interview of the center’s executive director, Ryan Christiansen, to amplify the news with our investors and our projects.

Financial technology, or fintech, is one of the fastest-growing fields in the world, and Utah is a leading location for this innovative and multidisciplinary industry. Tech and finance companies employed more than 180,000 people in Utah as of mid-2022, up 18% from five years earlier, according to an EDCUtah analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data. In 2023, Area Development named Salt Lake City among the top five emerging growth markets for fintech in the U.S.

New Partnership with the Utah Inland Port Authority

EDCUtah launched a new partnership with the Utah Inland Port Authority (UIPA) and GOEO to accelerate economic opportunity and create new opportunities for Utahns. The partnership aims to align incentives, promote targeted business growth, and foster responsible economic development strategies. As part of the agreement, Jaime Hernandez joined EDCUtah as a UIPA project manager to facilitate corporate expansion and recruitment projects interested in any of the Utah Inland Port Authority (UIPA) sites.

Massive Square Footage in Box Elder

In August, Lakeshore Learning selected Box Elder County for a new Western U.S. distribution center. In October, the company broke ground on what promises to be one of largest buildings in Utah at more than 1.2 million square feet.

Utah’s Business Incentives Program Shows Strong ROI

In October, a third-party accounting firm released an analysis of Utah’s tax incentive program for fiscal years 2019 to 2022, and the results were impressive. In this conversation between EDCUtah’s Scott Cuthbertson and GOEO’s Ryan Starks, readers can learn more about how the Economic Tax Increment Financing (EDTIF) program benefits Utah’s economy and taxpayers.

The Point Releases Phase I Plans, Signs Development Agreement

In December, The Point – one of the most significant economic development opportunities in Utah’s history – signed a development agreement with Innovation Point Partners and released an overview of its Phase One plans. Led by Lincoln Property Company and its local partners Colmena Group and Wadsworth Development Group, Innovation Point Partners brings extensive experience building large-scale, sustainable communities and innovative, mixed-use projects.

Please take this quick poll to rank these stories here. Feel free to add any other developments you think are worth noting in this year-end review.

Sara Adelman

Vice President of Marketing