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No matter where you turn, tech seems to be the big story in Utah’s economy. Several stories in this issue of Utah Business touch on the state’s tech industry. In our Technology department, for example, editor Adva Biton details the “State of the Industry,” describing the rapid growth of Utah’s technology sector and the workforce challenges that growth is creating. Biton writes, “[W]ith over 5,000 tech companies representing 7,000 jobs and nearly 10 percent of the state’s payroll, it’s important that Utahns recognize what’s going on in their own home state.”
Her story, which begins on page 44, describes the efforts of industry executives and state leaders to cultivate a tech-savvy workforce by reaching out to k-12 students, women and minorities. Richard Nelson, CEO of the Utah Technology Council, says, “We have something really spectacular going on in Utah. The challenge is talent. How do we get enough talent to fuel the growth of these hot, growing, thriving companies?”
Another challenge has been securing the capital to finance growth. But as writer Sarah Ryther Francom notes in her feature story, “A Big Deal,” tech companies in Utah had a banner year in 2014 with four private-placement “mega-deals” worth over $100 million each. Overall, Utah companies garnered more than $800 million in investment dollars last year.
Francom’s feature details how the influx of capital is helping strengthen the entire tech ecosystem in Utah. You can read more about the trend beginning on page 82.
Additionally, in our Special Report on Northern Utah, roundtable panelists describe the tight labor market conditions in that region of the state, particularly on the tech side, with companies like Orbital ATK and Janicki competing with Hill Air Force Base for software engineers and composites technicians. “When you talk to people at Hill Air Force Base about their needs for the future, they have a huge need for software engineers and computer engineers to support the F35 program and their cyber security efforts,” says Chuck Wight, president of Weber State University. “I think they’re expecting to hire about 230 to 250 engineers every single year for the foreseeable future.”
Despite the compelling news out of Utah’s technology sector, the state’s economy is not a one-trick pony. In fact, part of the state’s enduring economic strength is due to the vitality of all its industry sectors, from tech to tourism and from construction to healthcare.
Our annual CXO of the Year Awards highlight this fact. While we honor executives from several tech companies, we also shine the spotlight on chief executives from companies like Pikus Concrete & Construction, Walker Edison Furniture Company and Alterra, a pest control company. These companies are also experiencing tremendous success and growth—contributing to the state’s overall economic health and vitality.
You can learn more about our impressive CXO of the Year honorees beginning on page 62.
How is your business and industry faring in Utah’s vibrant economy? Is the low unemployment rate putting a damper on your plans for growth? Are you finding ample access to capital? Help us take the pulse of your industry—write me at firstname.lastname@example.org">email@example.com.
From the Editor,
Heather Dawn Stewart