Last week I shared with you the economic impact Weber State University has on the local community: somewhere around $500 million. I also presented several WSU business-related initiatives that have been implemented, with more on the way. Our community is very fortunate to have a major institution of higher learning in our midst. This week, I will provide a high level overview of Ogden key's economic development programs.
1. The recruitment of large employers by the mayor and city council is a major economic development objective. To achieve this goal, the city works with various site selector consultants who are connected to companies that are growing and need to locate an office or plant somewhere in the United States.
In addition, the city partners with the Economic Development Corporation of Utah and the Governor's Office of Economic Development to recruit companies that typically range in size from 100 to 1,000 employees and have an average salary and benefits package that exceeds 125 percent of the average worker's wage in Weber County. Recruitment is an ongoing activity that requires hard work and patience. In time, with a little luck, the city is able to announce that a company from another state has decided to locate one of its operation centers here.
For example, for the past year the city has been meeting with the leaders of technology companies in the Los Angeles area and has invited them to expand their operations in Ogden. One such company has recently moved to the area, with several others in the later stages of recruitment. Although not many will be employed by these companies, those who will be hired will enjoy above-average wages.
2. The Business Information Center is another significant business- related initiative sponsored by Ogden city. This center is dedicated to helping small businesses and startup companies with business counseling. Services include a plethora of special items including business plan development, mentoring and small-business loans.
3. A prior city initiative that has been successful and continues to be active is the establishment of an outdoor recreational products cluster of companies. Amer Sports is the valued anchor of this effort. Other noted emerging companies in the cluster include Klymit, an outdoor soft-goods insulation company; Kahuna Creations, a skate/long board accessories firm; Geiger Rig, a pressurized water hydration device; and Enve Composites, a manufacturer of carbon fiber rims for high-performance bicycles. City leadership continues to pursue and contact other companies in the outdoor products space in addition to helping launch new startup companies created by local entrepreneurs.
4. Mobile applications for smart- phones and iPad devices represent a fast-growing segment in the wireless communications industry. Ogden city, in conjunction with WSU, is working together to foster the development of new and useful mobile apps via a mobile apps lab and incubator in downtown Ogden. The staff in the facility will provide technical support and inexpensive work space to aspiring entrepreneurs who wish to develop cutting-edge applications for insatiable mobile device users.
5. Lastly, the city will continue the redevelopment of approximately 90 acres in downtown Ogden. The goal is to invite smaller retail stores, including outlet stores, to move into vacant spaces in various parts of the city.
As we look to the future, it is obvious that Ogden will continue to play a major role in economic development. We commend past mayors and city councils for their commitments in this important area and anticipate even more focus on this topic from new government leadership in the months to come.
Alan Hall is founder and chairman of Grow Utah, a not-for-profit entity with a mission of stimulating economic development through entrepreneurship.