Utah's First Official Mega Site Program
Ranked in the top three Best States for Business by Forbes for eight years running, Utah has proven itself as a top contender among locations in the West for corporate growth. And, while Utah is recognized as a great state for business because of its quality workforce and business-friendly environment, increased product development is needed to continue its success.
In 2016, EDCUtah identified this need for increased product development and set out to create Utah’s first Mega Site Program.
Mega sites are large-acreage land sites that have been extensively researched and pre-qualified to house large corporate relocation or expansion projects of 1,000+ jobs and $1 billion in capital investment. A Mega Site Program outlines criteria for certification, identifies potential mega sites, and works with communities and landowners through the certification process. Successful Mega Site Programs have been implemented in states throughout the southeastern United States and have led to the recruitment of large operations such as the $1 billion BMW assembly plant in Greer, South Carolina and the $1.6 billion Toyota plant in Huntsville, Alabama.
Benchmarking against the Mega Site Programs developed and established by states such as Georgia and South Carolina, EDCUtah collaborated with the University of Utah’s Masters of Real Estate Development (MRED) program on a project to identify and research potential mega sites in Utah. Together, they drafted the necessary certification criteria for the Utah Mega Site Program and identified more than 20 properties that could be certified as mega sites.
EDCUtah then assembled a committee formed primarily of state and local leaders from real estate and engineering industries as well as government. The committee took the criteria developed by the MRED Students, reviewed the potential sites, and helped EDCUtah through the process of certifying Utah’s first mega site in Elberta, Utah.
Success was achieved; Utah finally had its first ever certified mega site, which is currently being marketed as a corporate expansion opportunity. Due to the success of this pilot location, EDCUtah is moving forward in establishing the official Utah Mega Site Program.
EDCUtah’s Public Development Department, which will house and manage the Mega Site Program, has hired Katherine Morell as a Community Strategist to administer the program.
“We’re excited about the possibilities this program will provide and the addition of Katherine to our staff,” said EDCUtah’s CEO, Theresa Foxley. “Utah has finally been recognized for its potential as a major state for industry growth and we are helping pave the way for the next steps to make that happen.”
Confident that the Utah Mega Site Program will be a strong addition to the Public Development Department as the organization works to invest in and improve the competitive advantages of local communities, EDCUtah predicts the program will empower local economic development teams and will become an integral part of the work they do to serve Utah communities.
With this model, the Utah Mega Site Program will accomplish three main goals:
- Minimize the work and risk for potential client companies
- Identify the industrial development opportunities Utah has to offer
- Increase Utah’s exposure to companies as a viable location for industrial development and economic growth
The implementation of the Utah Mega Site Program supports EDCUtah’s ultimate goal of creating more jobs and capital investment within the state. This will be made increasingly possible as more mega sites are certified through the program and, over time, Utah will be better able to attract more corporate relocation and expansion opportunities.
Picture: Utah's first Mega Site in Elberta Utah.