While computer software and hardware were hot five years ago, state officials are looking to aerospace and aviation to fuel an economic fire.
Gov. Norm Bangerter last fall ordered a task force to examine aerospace and aviation and come up with 20,000 new jobs by 1993. The aviation field is looking hot.Building a beginning industry takes a recipe for success, exactly what the state's Department of Community and Economic Development is trying to do.
Based on the theory you can't get the big boys to come in and play - and pay - big bucks without something waiting for them, the division is identifying what needs to be done and how to do it.
"We're moving into an era into which Utah can be and should be in the future in saying how we can focus on those technical areas that will create large numbers of new jobs," said Lynn Blake, director of the department's business development division.
One of those technical areas is aviation industry, a $23 billion-a-year industry that is gearing up to replace its aging fleet of planes, said Val Finlayson, the state department's aerospace development director.
A recent rash of crashes and near crashes has heightened the need to renew the airlines' fleet. An estimated 700 planes will have to be replaced every year over the next decade. And the big aviation contractors can produce only 400 planes a year.
"So already we see a demand for the aircraft that far exceeds what's available," said Finlayson, adding, "We may not get a huge hangar" where planes are built. "But we do feel we can get all the subassembly that goes in there."
A governor's task force is examining what needs to be done to get Utah flying. The state once was considered as a possible aerospace center by NASA during the Apollo space program.
While many Utahns moan about the cost of educating the 10,000 new children entering schools each year, the grundles of kids eventually will pay off big and may help bring that aerospace center status to Utah.
With the rest of the country's population aging, it's estimated that in the year 2000, Utah will have the youngest work force in the nation, said Jack DeMann, a State senator and a spokesman at Hercules Aerospace.
"As we go out we need to take the kind of aggressive focus we're taking about," said Blake. "First of all, we're going to build a major aerospace industry in Utah."
The task force has had three goals in its effort to find and attract $20-30-an-hour jobs. First was finding out what industries are going to need people. Answer - aerospace and aviation.
"The second is a survey of what contracts they (companies) are buying out of state and and why," Finlayson said. "That'll help us target" efforts to draw in companies and help existing firms expand.
The third issue identified by the state is a strategic plan for expanding aerospace industry in Utah.
Expanding from within includes teaching companies how to bid for contracts, expand product lines so they can easily be adapted for aerospace and aviation and bringing in new firms.
"Part of the conversion is being done on the other end, and many of the companies are unhappy in Southern California and are looking to move around," said Finlayson.
Firms finding a wide base of research, people trained in all aspects of the technological field, reasonable corporate and property taxes and plenty of room to grow will be enticed into making the move north.
And in the process, Blake said, local companies will find new markets and ways to make profits.