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Not occupying Wall Street: Goldman Sachs grows in Utah

Published: Friday, March 9 2012 2:55 p.m. MST

Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon (center) talks with David Lang (Goldman Sachs, Managing Director in SLC) (right) and Jeffrey Schroeder (Goldman Sachs, Chief Administrative Officer) during a press conference, March 18, 2010.rn

Michael Brandy, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — These days Utah has to be loving the way Wikipedia describes the investment banking and securities firm: "Goldman Sachs was founded in 1869 and is headquartered at 200 West Street in the Lower Manhattan area of New York City, with additional offices in major international financial centers."

Just let that last part roll off a Utahn's tongue. "Major international financial center."

Back in 2011, Goldman Sachs described the Salt Lake City office as "the second largest office in the Americas." It encouraged people to apply for jobs as well. "This is an exciting time to join Goldman Sachs and consider starting or continuing your career in Salt Lake City."

The career page at GoldmanSachs.com has 64 job openings listed for Salt Lake City. And if you walk downtown on a Friday night, you might come across some young Goldman Sachs transferees from New York City — probably on their way to the Bourbon House.

A Reuters article looks at the growth of Goldman Sachs operations in Salt Lake — saying it was Utah's lower taxes and "cheap but well-educated workforce" that was behind a "hiring binge." There are about 1,300 Goldman Sachs employees in Salt Lake — just under 4 percent of the company's total number of employees worldwide.

And more will be hired soon. Reuters said the investment bank is about to hire about 300 more people by the end of 2012.

Writers like contrast to enhance drama, and so the Reuters story plays up the contrast of "hard-charging traders and swaggering bankers" with the reputation of Salt Lake City as a "family-orientated town where the bars close early" (by law, liquor may be sold from 10 a.m. to 1 a.m.).

Some employees told Reuters that East Coast employees have been replaced by lower-cost Utah employees. David Lang, Goldman's managing director in Salt Lake City, told Reuters cost considerations are less interesting than the quality of people they can hire in Salt Lake. "We would expect that one day we can export the talent from here," Land told Reuters. "We have groups and teams here who interact with our global operations abroad every day."

But lower taxes (including $47.3 million in tax credits) and cheaper labor were what Utah used to entice Goldman Sachs to the Beehive State.

"Utah is sort of like a U.S. tax haven," Robert Willens, a tax expert at Columbia University told Reuters. "Utah may be offering incentives, but the corporate tax rate is incredibly low."

And the salaries Goldman Sachs pays Utahns are rock-bottom low at an average of a mere $80,000 a year. Which might sound good, except Reuters reported Goldman's employees worldwide average about $400,000 a year.

While there have been a few minor encounters with Occupy Salt Lake protestors, Goldman Sachs appears to be liking its Salt Lake experience. Salt Lake City mayor Ralph Becker told Reuters, "There isn't the kind of friction with Goldman Sachs that there is in different cities."

Not bad for a major international financial center.

This article uses aggregated content from Reuters, Utah.gov and GoldmanSachs.com.

EMAIL: mdegroote@desnews.com, TWITTER: @degroote, FACEBOOK: facebook.com/madegroote

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