SALT LAKE CITY — Adobe Systems Inc. announced Thursday that Utah is a big part of its future as the site of a new technology center amounting to about a $1.6 billion deal — big enough that Gov. Gary Herbert held a news conference to announce it and big enough, he said, to be worth every penny of the $40 million tax break the company will get when the project is completed.
"Mostly, it was the timing and the right combination of a lot of attractive options about Utah," Mark Garrett, Adobe's executive vice president and chief financial officer, said following the announcement at the state Capitol. "That tax incentive was certainly one of the attractions in Utah's favor, but it was the talent and skill of the work force, the general business climate and quality of life were very appealing. It's also close to California, and Utah has a strong working relationship between business and its very technology-minded university system."
In any case, the deal is a win-win and then some for Utah, as it could potentially create up to 1,000 new high-tech jobs here over the next 20 years, Herbert said.
"The pattern is often for companies to start here, grow and then leave Utah when they get a certain size or are purchased," Herbert said. "This way, a Utah company (Omniture) stays in Utah, and its parent company comes here. This is a long-term commitment to Utah, and Utah is committed to having the business environment that will sustain exactly this kind of long-term growth."
The deal comes just as Adobe, based in San Jose, Calif., was considering what to do with Omniture, an online marketing and Web analytics company which Adobe acquired this past October and is housed in a leased building in Orem. Omniture Business Unit, as it is now known, employs 620 people in Utah and 1,100 worldwide.
Garrett said the technology campus, to be completed in 2012 with other facilities added later, won't automatically be in Orem. Other sites in Utah County and in Salt Lake County are being considered, he said, adding that a site will be selected within the next month.
"Today's announcement means Adobe will have a major presence in Utah," said Jeff Edwards, president and chief executive officer of the Economic Development Corp. of Utah. "That is good in a number of ways beyond information technology. It's definitely a high water mark for that sector, but the businesses that will fill in around it to support it and the benefits across the state will be significant. And the weight of being able to say Adobe is here enhances Utah's profile when trying to lure other businesses."
The state is currently wooing about 250 companies interested in relocating, Edwards said. "About half of those are actively in our pipeline, and one or two of those will likely be making announcements similar to today's within the next two months," he said, declining to mention names. The Adobe deal started being discussed about two years ago but took less than six months to put together, he noted.
"The positive impact of having a company of Adobe's caliber choosing Utah as the place to expand its operations cannot be understated," Herbert said. "As a result of this expansion, the state will see benefits to economic development across all industries."
Spending $100 million on just the first phase of a multiphase, multiyear expansion project could be regarded as a bullish move, given the continuing doldrums in the wider national economy and the uncertainties of a debt-riven global economy.
"Certainly, the economy doesn't have the momentum we'd like," Garrett said. "But we've had a very strong year so far, and we see this as the best, most strategically suited place for our future."