Wednesday's announcement that Procter & Gamble picked Box Elder County for a new paper products manufacturing plant was greeted with praise and pride by Utahns who worked to make it happen.
"This is a huge win for the state of Utah, and the positive impacts of it are going to be felt for generations to come," said Jason Perry, executive director of the Governor's Office of Economic Development. "This is the kind of company that really builds communities, it trains our work force and, through our experience and what we know of them, creates management personnel to go throughout the entire world. Procter & Gamble is known as one of those great companies that really produces some great CEOs.
"It's going to have a great impact on our schools, our work force and our entire economy. The impact of a great company like this moving here really can't be overstated."
Jeff Edwards, president and chief executive officer of the Economic Development Corp. of Utah, said P&G's decision represents "a vote of confidence" that "just speaks volumes about our state." EDCU had its first contact with a P&G site selector though it did not know P&G's identity in September 2006.
"If I was picking, they certainly would be on the list of top companies that we'd ever hope to bring here, and we were so impressed that they would even look here," Edwards said Wednesday. "When they called me yesterday (Tuesday), I was really speechless. I didn't even know quite what to say. To hope for it for so long and then have it finally happen is really amazing."
Various officials on Wednesday were heaping praise on several Utahns who helped woo P&G to the state: Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr.; GOED; EDCU; Box Elder County Commissioner Clark Davis; Susan Thackeray, project coordinator for Box Elder County Economic Development; Box Elder County School District Superintendent Martell Menlove and Brigham City Mayor Lou Ann Christensen.
Edwards, in particular, praised the county and local officials.
"The real key to this was finding the right site," he said. "I have to give profuse credit to Box Elder County to be willing to step up for this. This is a really huge project and to have a rural community with a small population, to have them even feel like they could even be in the running for this was a challenge, to provide the resources for a global company like this to come into their market."
"The people really make something like this go," he said. "You can put numbers on paper, and incentives are an important part of this ... but, really, I think at the end of the day it was the fact that they (P&G) found people they thought they could do business with."
Thackeray said Wednesday she was "totally thrilled" with P&G's announcement.
"This is a company of the caliber that we're looking for, that will mesh well with the really quality companies we already have here," she said. "We are just really excited to keep up the caliber of companies we have."
She reiterated comments made last week before the GOED board about such a facility enabling young Box Elder residents to remain near their home area because they will have quality jobs locally.
"I want to be able to keep the children here, for them to have the quality jobs so they will be able to have a home, raise their children and stay here," she said. "We don't do a good job of keeping our children."
"We couldn't be happier," Davis said. "I think it's just a great win for the community and a great opportunity for economic development in Utah."
In a prepared statement, Huntsman said that Utahns "can take pride in the fact Procter & Gamble has chosen to locate its newest manufacturing plant here."
"It's been an honor for me over the past several months getting to know many of P&G's executive team," he said. "I now look forward to officially welcoming one of America's top corporate citizens to the state of Utah."
Utah had competition from at least two other states for the new facility, and P&G also could have opted to expand other facilities rather than build a new plant. Utahns involved in the selection process said they became more confident in Utah's chances as their work continued.
"I was hopeful always that this would be the answer, and we certainly provided a huge amount of information to them," Perry said. "We responded to their requests, and they responded to ours. There was a significant amount of dialogue between the state and Procter & Gamble through the past couple of months enough to make make me very optimistic.
"There was, in a very real sense, significant competition for this. We did not know where those spots were, only that they existed, and we had to be the A-team. We had to do all the things you needed to do, and we had to be very professional about it because this is the big game."
Davis said he thought Utah would be the top choice for the company if it picked a "greenfield" site rather than a plant expansion."My biggest fear was we would not have sufficient infrastructure in place to be competitive with the other competing locations," he said. "But as we got closer, I thought that if they go with a greenfield, we were No. 1. If they go with the easy decision the more conservative decision they would just decide to expand internally."