EDCUtah Proposes New Utah Mega Sites Program
Earlier this year, EDCUtah began the process of investigating the feasibility of developing a Mega Sites program in Utah. Mega Sites are large acreage land sites pre-qualified to house a landmark expansion or relocation project (i.e., 1000+ jobs or $1 billion in capital expenditure.)
Natalie Gochnour, Associate Dean at the David Eccles School of Business, connected EDCUtah to the university’s Masters of Real Estate Development (MRED) program. A team of MRED students were selected to engage in a semester-long research study for EDCUtah.
EDCUtah asked the students to do three things: benchmark successful Mega Sites programs throughout the country, propose specific criteria to qualify Utah Mega Sites, and begin to collect an inventory of potential Mega Sites throughout the state.
The students began by reviewing programs in states like South Carolina and Georgia to determine best practices. Then, they interviewed dozens of experts throughout Utah to collect feedback on the program’s design. Experts included local economic developers, real estate brokers and developers to better understand the needs of these diverse partners. The students worked these responses into a proposed checklist of site criteria, and then invited submissions for possibles Mega Sites throughout Utah. At the end of the project, there were a total of twenty submissions of possible real estate locations that could work as Utah Mega Sites.
The students presented their findings to a group of over thirty EDCUtah stakeholders on December 8, 2016.
Mike Flynn, Chief Operating Officer at EDCUtah, first saw megasites as a great opportunity for Utah. The University of Utah and the David Eccles School of Business were able to turn this idea into a program framework. The potential return on these sites is significant, and the anticipated benefit to Utah could be tremendous. EDCUtah will continue to manage the program through pilot projects in multiple locations. Once these initial Mega Sites are qualified, EDCUtah and program stakeholders will determine any refinements to the criteria, and begin long term planning for the program’s future.