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EBay expanding its Utah operations

Published: Monday, Aug. 22 2011 11:09 a.m. MDT

EBay executive Scott Murray, vice president North America customer service, makes an announcement to employees Monday, Aug. 22, 2011, about plans for the company to build a new facility in Draper. The move could create more than 2000 Utah jobs over the next 20 years.

Scott G. Winterton, Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News

DRAPER — The Beehive State is the latest winner in the bid to bring new jobs into the state's economy.

Global online auction marketer eBay announced Monday plans to expand its operations in Draper to include construction of a new state-of-the-art facility and the addition of 2,200 jobs over the two decades.

"We expect the facility to be open in about 2013," said eBay communications director Michael Frandsen.

In Utah, eBay currently employs about 1,400 workers and operates a major customer service center in Draper that includes support functions such as human resources, finance, account management, call center management, training, legal, along with product and project management. The company also operates a data center in South Jordan.

Worldwide, eBay employs nearly 18,000 people.

The new facility, which will expand existing operations, is estimated to require a $110 million investment that Gov. Gary Herbert called an indicator of the kind of commitment companies like eBay have toward Utah and the belief eBay has in the state's economic future.

"They believe that building and expanding here suits their needs," Herbert said. "When world-class companies like eBay pledge partnership with Utah, it is a vote of confidence in the economic growth and stability that we are currently enjoying."

Before the announcement, the Governor's Office of Economic Development board voted to grant the company a post-performance refundable tax credit of $38.2 million over 20 years.

The latest incentive combines with two previous job-based incentives — in May 2009 and October 2009 — to create a single comprehensive incentive package based on eBay expanding its workforce by more than 2,480 Utah employees at an average salary that will exceed 125 percent of the Salt Lake County average wage.

If the company meets the hiring goals, the result would be more than $127 million in new state tax revenue over the 20-year period.

There is controversy surrounding the location where the company has proposed to build its new facility.

The property is located near UTA's Frontrunner commuter-rail line, adjacent to an important archaeological site where researchers found the earliest identified evidence of corn farming by Native Americans in the Great Basin.

A state audit last year found an ex-UTA board member had a conflict of interest and made an "undisclosed amount" of money involving a land deal at the proposed rail stop.

One citizens group says the city has been less than transparent about plans there, which the city denies.

"There's a lot more going on than the citizens know about," said Debie Wangsgard with Citizens for Responsible Government. "We've been told repeatedly that there is no plan over there yet. And as developments become available, we'll have a chance to see what's going to happen. Now we have an announcement today that says it's already planned."

The company said it has worked hard to be responsive to concerns raised about the project.

"We've been very sensitive culturally and environmentally and so the site we're looking at is well away from the Jordan River, well away from wetlands and well away from archaeological sites that have been identified thus far," Frandsen said.

While no definitive date has been set for construction to begin, an eBay executive said ground could be broken by year's end.

Contributing: John Daley

Email: jlee@desnews.com

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