OGDEN — Ogden’s burgeoning mobile app industry just got a financial boost from the federal government.
The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration announced Thursday it will give the city $1 million to help fund the creation of a lab to train workers as well as provide space for business startups in the field of software applications for mobile devices.
Staff members of Ogden’s Community and Economic Development have been working with representatives from Weber State University’s Research Foundation to create the program, which will develop software for electronic devices such as tablets, iPads, iPhones and other smartphones.
Mayor Mike Caldwell said the lab is expected to create 750 jobs and generate up to $4.6 million in private investment over 10 years.
“The mobile app industry is just exploding,” he said. “There were 13 billion mobile app downloads in 2011, and that number is estimated to go to 66 billion by 2016.”
The program will provide mentoring, training, legal services and even small-business loans for mobile app entrepreneurs.
One focus of the program will be to have those jobs located in downtown Ogden, said Terrence Bride, Ogden’s assistant business development manager, and another is to create synergy between the program and WSU students who graduate in related fields.
Matt Erskine, acting U.S. assistant secretary of Commerce for the EDA, said the unique partnership between the city and the university is one of the major reasons Ogden was awarded the grant.
“This is the type of collaborative project we are excited to invest in,” he said. “There has been an explosion in the use of mobile devices and the demand to create them, so this is a fantastic opportunity for Ogden.”
In April, the Ogden City Council approved a funding match for the federal grant, which had been anticipated for several months.
The city will kick in $285,000 for the purchase and renovation of a building at 2314 Washington Blvd. Another $145,000 will go into a loan fund that will be used for business loans associated with the program.
WSU will also contribute $50,000 toward the building.