March 1, 2012

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Northern Utah

Utah Business Staff

March 1, 2012

STEAGALL: One of the things that we’ve been talking about at Weber State is that the ATCs are doing a much better job in being responsive to business communities than we historically have. We have some opportunities at Weber State. We have seven academic deans, and four of us are new this year. We’re going to have several meetings this spring where a group of faculty will sit down with a group of people from the business community and talk about what their needs are, and we’ll talk about what our interests and abilities are, and try to figure out what we can do differently.

Partnerships again are very important. We’ve done a good job with that in some areas in our MBA program, particularly, with the contract management certificate. We’ve got a certificate now in aerospace that has just been approved. So we’re trying to be responsive in those areas too. Another area where we need to be more responsive is in the international area. There are a lot of international business in Utah and, frankly, it ought to be something we’re really good at with the number of people who have language capabilities and the cultural sensitivity to deal with international business issues.

LAWRENCE: Part of my responsibilities is to manage the Utah Science Technology and Research for northern Utah out at the Weber State office. I’m a recovering entrepreneur. I come from a large software business. Couple of thoughts as it pertains to that. Infrastructure is really important. Facilities and bandwidth are really important. But part of the reason why our software company that I’m a partner in is the fastest-growing privately held business in Utah in the last seven years was located in Salt Lake instead of up here was the quantity of talent, not the quality. I live and work up here, and the quality of talent is as good as anything I see anywhere across the state.

So what I’m starting to see is more and more people that are interested in technical education. We’ve got some big companies in Ogden that do internet marketing and things that are a little bit different flavor of technology. Weber State graduates more computer science-related degrees than any other institution in Utah. One of the things that we’re seeing is more technology startups that are thinking about locating in northern Utah. So I’m working with companies in Bountiful, Layton and Ogden to think about actually starting companies here.

One of the key things to the long-term future of this community is more technology companies starting in northern Utah, and I’m seeing that. I’m seeing some cool research that’s coming out of our campus. We’re partnering with a number of private companies to spin out stuff that we’ve invented through USTAR or stuff that those companies have intented They come to us to and say, “You’ve got facilities, you’ve got expertise, you’ve got staff to think about some of these things.”

How are local and small businesses faring in today’s economy?
FORSBERG: MarketStar provides outsource sales and marketing services for primarily multi-country tech organizations. In terms of the things we see, 2010 was actually our largest revenue growth year that we’ve ever had. So the big thing for us is availability of quality people. Late last year we had to hire about 120 people in about eight weeks and place them in our facility in Ogden. These are people that had to represent one of the world’s largest internet companies, and so they had a very high standard of quality for these personnel. What’s nice is the people are there, they’re available. It’s just a matter of tapping into them and finding them.

What’s also nice is the growing reputation of Davis and Weber counties. I’ve worked at MarketStar for almost 20 years, and it used to be when you would talk to somebody about being in Ogden it was like before Columbus discovered America. Now it’s not like that at all, and we attract people from Utah County and Salt Lake County on a regular basis.

BARNES: At Candle Warmers, Etc. we’ve been fortunate to experience growth since 2006. We have expanded our operations in distribution globally. We’re in Asia, and we’ll be in Australia and Europe by the end of the year. We have a need for larger facilities—we’ve been bitten by the low vacancy bug that’s out there right now. We’ve been searching for a bigger facility for quite some time.

About half of our business comes from the small mom-and-pops. And in 2009 about 14,000 mom-and-pop stores closed down in the gift industry alone, and that’s primarily where we play. We also saw at that time the year-over-year sales at the mass stores like Wal-Marts and K-Marts start to decline. But since late 2010 that changed, and year over year sales with a lot of these stores is starting to creep back up.

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