Time for a history lesson: the longest, continuously operating company in Utah is Logan-based Central Milling, which has produced high-quality flour for professional and home bakers since 1867. The company employs 110 Utahns and distributes to Whole Foods and Costcos nationwide. Some 150 years old, Central Milling is evidence of Utah’s long tradition of manufacturing. Like a good yeast, manufacturing makes the whole economy rise.
Today, according to University of Utah analysis, Utah has the fourth most diverse economy in the country, and this diversity is reflected in a manufacturing portfolio crossing nearly every industry:
- In the medical device sector, Merit Medical in South Jordan makes inflation devices used in angioplasty and stent placement as well as diagnostic and therapeutic catheters for cardiology and radiology. Just down the road in Draper, Edwards Lifesciences has a significant share of the heart valve market worldwide.
- In consumer and food products, P&G opened its first new U.S. manufacturing plant in 40 years when it opened a paper products facility in Bear River City in 2011. The operation continues to expand. In Salt Lake City, Sun Products produces laundry detergent, fabric softeners, and other household care products. The Dannon Company has a West Jordan facility supporting its yogurt product line.
- Utah is well known for its burgeoning Silicon Slopes software scene, but it’s also a player in hardware manufacturing. Of particular note is IM Flash’s Lehi facility, which produces the most technologically-advanced flash memory in the world. Down south in St. George, weBoost brings to market a wide range of cellular-signal boosting products.
- In the field of outdoor recreation, Lifetime Products manufactures basketball backboards, stand-up paddleboards, kayaks and more in Clearfield. Barnes Bullets in Mona produces ammunition for hunting, precision shooting and other pursuits. In Salt Lake City, DPS makes the world’s first and only pure prepreg carbon fiber sandwich ski to enjoy The Greatest Snow on Earth® in the nearby Wasatch Mountains. Goode Ski Technologies in Ogden uses advanced materials in its products, including its award-winning water skis.
- In aerospace and aviation, Boeing has a large presence in Salt Lake City dedicated to building composite vertical fins for their 787 Dreamliner, and SyberJet’s operations in Cedar City are producing high-end, light business jets. With other leading businesses like Janicki and Harris on the Wasatch Front, it’s no wonder PriceWaterhouseCoopers named Utah the No. 4 most attractive aerospace manufacturing market in the nation.
The Facts and Figures
Utah’s economy saw total manufacturing output top $17 billion in 2014. The Utah Manufacturers Association reports that manufacturing accounts for an estimated 16 percent of Utah’s gross state product, ahead of the national average at 12 percent. In fact, Utah’s manufacturing output has grown by 50 percent over the last 12 years, and it shows no signs of slowing. Manufacturing wages are roughly 30 percent higher than the state’s average wage, yet another demonstration of how the powerful engine of manufacturing drives Utah’s lauded business environment.
More than 125,000 workers – or 9.1 percent of the state’s total non-farm employment – comprise Utah’s manufacturing workforce. Utah manufacturers point with pride to a recent accolade from CEO Magazine. Its readers named Utah’s employees in all industries No. 1 in workforce quality.
Beside the industries noted above, Utah manufacturers directly support product packaging, aluminum framing, furniture products, foundries, fabricated metal products, machinery and mining and natural resources, to name a few.
Like any economic hot spot, Utah manufacturing faces challenges — but, they are the kind of challenges associated with growth. Continuing to develop the talent pipeline and diversify the supply chain are among those challenges. And, responses from the aerospace sector showcase the public-private collaboration, creativity and problem solving for which Utah is known.
In September 2015, a partnership of businesses, educational institutions and state agencies launched the Utah Aerospace Pathways program. The program provides Utah students the opportunity to graduate high school with a certificate in aerospace manufacturing and begin an aerospace manufacturing career. It has since expanded into adult learner programs as well.
“Improving our education system is the most important thing we can do to build a strong economy for the future,” said Larry Coughlin, general manager of Boeing Salt Lake, in 2015 statement announcing Pathways. “This program provides students who have a passion for technology and innovation the opportunity to become familiar with aerospace manufacturing and get hands-on experiential learning.”
The program takes place in two local high school districts, and at Davis Applied Technology College and Salt Lake Community College. The first cohort of 40 students has already graduated and entered the workforce. The life sciences industry followed suit in 2016 with the launch of the Medical Innovations Pathways program, providing similar opportunities in medical device manufacturing.
In October, the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, the University of Utah’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership center, and the Aerospace States Association Utah Chapter joined Lockheed Martin and other aerospace companies on a road tour to four rural counties: Emery, Carbon, Duchesne and Uintah. These counties have been hit hardest by the decrease in the coal and gas industries. The goal of the trip was to connect local businesses to opportunities in the aerospace manufacturing supply chain. During the four-day event, the partnership hosted business meetings, supplier tours, community events and STEM education demonstrations at local schools.
Your Next Manufacturing Project
For your next project consider the business-friendly state of Utah. Just ask Forbes, which has ranked Utah the “No. 1 Best State for Business” six out of the last seven years. Put the “Crossroads of the West” on your short list. Utah’s infrastructure – rail, air, highways – is ideal for product distribution. The cost of real estate and energy are below national averages. The state’s workforce is young, hard-working, loyal and healthy. Government is limited but effective. With the proximity of beautiful mountains and deserts, Utah’s quality of life and recreational opportunities are unparalleled.
For more information, visit business.utah.gov or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Visit http://www.expansionsolutionsmagazine.com/utah_ed for local economic development office directory listings.