High-tech industries consider Utah County their own happy valley.
Every day, Utah Valley's 137 high-tech firms bring an estimated $4.5 million into Utah's economy."That is new money from outside the area, money that is spent on retail, services and other support industries," said Richard Bradford, director of the Utah Valley Economic Development Association.
High-tech industry in Utah County is growing at a rate of 20 percent per year and is expected to double every three years. By the year 2000, Bradford projects 40,000 people will be employed in local high-tech industries.
In the third quarter of 1990, Job Service reported that out of an employment base of 93,563 people, high-tech industry in Utah County employed 6,502. Metal manufacturing companies emPlease see INDUSTRY on B2
ployed 5,808 and education employed 13,994 - two-thirds at Brigham Young University.
Overall, the Wasatch Front ranks third in the nation as a high-tech center, employing 31,000 people in high-tech industries, Bradford said. The Wasatch Front lines up nationally behind North Carolina with 32,000 employees and Silicon Valley with 234,000.
Why is Utah County enjoying such success?
"Two-thirds of high-tech companies can trace their origin back to BYU," Bradford said. "BYU has been a major player in the creation of high-tech."
Other factors involved are a good labor force, favorable tax rates, skilled workers, low operating costs and the success of personal computers.
Pete Peterson, executive vice-president for Word Perfect, said that Utah's biggest advantage is the attitude of the work force.
"They are a hard-working people, and there isn't the turnover of employees that can be found in other parts of the country. People want to stay and are loyal to the company," he said.
"Also, Utah is becoming more cosmopolitan and less rural. It is more likely to get involved in new industry with a lower cost of entry for new businesses," Peterson said.
Earl Bushman, a Signetics vice-president, said his company has been in Utah County "for some expanse of time (since 1966), and we have found the schools in the area give us a broad, technical engineering base to pull from. Not just BYU, but the University of Utah and Utah State as well."
Bushman also praised the work ethic of Utah employees and said it was "as high, if not higher, than any place I've been."
But if Utah wants to keep its industries, Bradford said the state's cities will have to do more.
"The challenge is keying in on high-tech sites. They should get real busy creating business parks," he said.