Utah County industrial parks could diversify, stabilize and enrich the area's economy. But before developers can sell the parks, they must have a clear vision of what they are offering.
Most of the county's 20 industrial parks are developed and sold by their towns."There is no such thing as too many industrial parks. It's not possible," said Homer Chandler, executive director of Mountainland Association, an agency that administers federal grants. "But not every community will be able to attract industry. We need to pick out the best cities and develop those. That is the key to success, the way to maximize resources."
Present county industrial parks employ about 5,000 people, said Paul Stout, marketing director of the Utah Valley Economic Development Association.
"But we need 3,000 new jobs a year to keep up with job losses in other businesses. Just to provide for children graduating and entering the work force, we need 4,000 or 5,000 new jobs a year."
Stout said luring diverse industries would stabilize the county's economy.
"You don't want all food companies that could be hurt by a drought or a shortage of some product. The more diverse the industries supporting an area, the less vulnerable the area is to any given natural or political disaster. You don't want all your eggs in one basket."
Chandler said many successful parks know their strengths and can identify their specific markets.
That was the case with Orem's Timpanogos Research and Technology Park.
"We weren't planning to get into the industrial-park business," City Manager Daryl Berlin said. "But there was a niche no private developer had filled."
The niche was for a research park to serve high-technology businesses that wanted to locate in the area.
"They are high-quality computer and research businesses. They liked the mountains, the people, the quality of life, the chance to use Utah Valley Community College to train their workers. There were even some who wanted to be near Brigham Young University for the sports.
"Private developers weren't filling the need, so we did."
Orem, in partnership with Sidney Horman Construction of Salt Lake City, bought 100 acres of orchard land between 12th North and 16th North and west of Eighth East. It cost Orem $4 million.
"The roads, utilities and bridges cost about $1.5 million to put in. We are paying back the loan as we sell the land. And it is all either sold or buyers are tentatively committed. Only Word Perfect, a computer software company, has completed construction and is open for business."
Berlin said part of the site's appeal is the 40 percent landscaping the city requires. Most parks require 20 percent or less.
"It gives the research park a campus-like feeling," Berlin said. "We expect the park to employ about 5,000 people when building is done. The property taxes generated should ultimately be around $1 million a year."
Berlin said Orem will leave future parks to private developers. A 100-acre business park, owned by Bill Fresh, Salt Lake City, was approved two years ago for an area west of I-15. No clients have bought land yet, but two have recently expressed interest.
"Orem would like to see a balance of research and manufacturing," Berlin said.
A more diversified approach has paid off for Provo's East Bay Industrial and Business Center, a 400-acre park and golf course at 14th S. University Ave.
"The city has owned the land since time immemorial, but ran utilities and began selling land two years ago," Mike Vanchiere, project manager, said. "The project has cost about about $12 million or $13 million, part of which was raised by land sales and municipal purpose bonds."
The site has drawn such companies as Novell, a manufacturer of local area networking of computer software, and Price Savers membership warehouse.
"We have restaurants and a bank going in; we have day care, a golf course and a post office. It is a destination point. More and more, people will be able to go there for almost anything," Vanchiere said.
He said about 3,500 people are employed at the park, and total salaries are in the multimillions. There are about 100 acres left to sell. Vanchiere expects the park to be full in the next four years.
Many clients chose East Bay for its metropolitan location, but others prefer the quieter atmosphere of the Springville Industrial Park.
Springville's 380-acre industrial park, formerly the community cow pasture, has attracted 15 businesses, created 1,350 jobs with a total annual payroll of about $30 million, and is projected to generate $2 million in property-tax revenues in 1989.
"The people of Springville were very smart to invest the initial $200,000," Richard Bradford, executive director of the economic development association, said. "The park has brought a lot of money to the area and will keep generating income for generations to come."
Businesses at the park include Stouffer Foods Corp., producer of frozen dinners; M-B Construction; Wilkinson Electronics; and Murdock International, a supplier of dried foods and herbs.
Stouffer chose the park because of location, according to plant manager Jay Weaver.
"We are within 12 hours of most cities on the West Coast. It's great for distribution. And this park has one of the best reputations in the West. It's not average; it's a high-class park," he said.
Payson has annexed 500 acres for an industrial park but is taking a wait-and-see attitude.
"We are waiting for a company to show interest before we spend a lot to run utilities out," Rod Watkins, city administrator, said. "Most areas have water and power but would need sewers."
The land is privately owned, and Watkins said he doubts the city will buy the land unless a specific company asks it to be part of a purchase deal.
"Otherwise, our only involvement will be through planning and zoning meetings."
The annexed land is near the old golf course, part of which was purchased by American Stores.
"There was some innovative thinking down in Payson," Stout said. "The city took the old golf course, rezoned it for industry, sold some of the land, and, with the proceeds, started work on a new golf course that will be better than the old one.
American Fork has decided to leave the job to a private developer, the Woodbury Corp.
"American Fork is sponsoring it, but the developer bought the land and will develop it," said Walt Farmer, chairman of the city's economic development committee.
Rick Woodbury said his company was interested in the 92-acre project partly because of the freeway frontage.
"A good transportation system is important to most businesses," he said.
"The city was excited about the project because it's a low-risk project to them. Usually, a city risks the money; this time we take the risk."
Woodbury said the park is still in the planning stages, but should be ready by fall.
The news in Spanish Fork is the sale of 20 acres in the city's 74-acre park to Longview Fibres. The park boasts several other businesses, but Longview is the biggest.
"They asked about our railroads and highways before they committed," said Clyde Swenson, Spanish Fork administrator of finance. "We have more than 40 trucking firms that serve the city. They were impressed."
Swenson also said selling points were proximity to BYU and Utah Valley Community College, low cost of living, low utilities and an educated and plentiful work force with a strong work ethic.
This may be true of Spanish Fork, but is also true of most Utah County parks. Officials say the key to future success may be to play up differences between parks to attract a variety of specialized clienteles.