SALT LAKE CITY — Software giant Adobe Inc. will substantially expand its Utah presence, announcing plans Thursday to build a new $90 million facility and add almost 1,300 employees at its Lehi campus.
The news was revealed at the Governor’s Office of Economic Development board meeting where the agency also detailed a tax incentive package for the company best known for its suite of creative digital tools.
The 20-year deal grants Adobe $25.8 million in tax breaks on a projected $2.3 billion in new state wages and $85.8 million in corporate, payroll and sales taxes over that time. The company projects that the new positions will pay approximately 300 percent of the Utah County average wage.
The new project will complement the four-story, 280,000-square-foot building the company completed in 2012 for $107 million. The original facility, designed by San Francisco architecture firm WRNS Studio and perched on a hill just east of I-15 near Thanksgiving Point, hosts about 1,200 employees from Adobe’s digital marketing unit.
Economic Development Corporation of Utah CEO Theresa Foxley said Adobe's positive impacts on the state extend past its position as one of the state's largest high-tech employers.
"Not only is Adobe a leader in Utah's tech market, but they are also an incredible community partner," Foxley said. "Their continued investment in Utah is a sign of our tech community's bright future."
In an announcement posted to its blog page, Adobe noted that the Utah expansion is part of broader growth plans that also include constructing a new building (its fourth) at its headquarters in San Jose, California, adding more leased office space in San Francisco and Emeryville, California, and further growth in its India operations. The company, founded in 1982, employs more than 17,000 worldwide.
Jonathan Francom, Adobe's vice president for employee and workplace solutions, said the company continues to be big on all that Utah has to offer.
"Utah punches above its weight for attracting and retaining talent," Francom said. "We continue to look at this as a great place to hire for Adobe."
Francom said the new building will be the home predominantly for additional employees working in the company's digital marketing division, as well as a small number of staff dedicated to work on Adobe's digital creative tools.
Some state elected officials who were present for the announcement expressed concern about Utah being able to provide the resources and infrastructure necessary to keep pace with the expanding Utah tech sector.
Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper, represents the area encompassing Adobe's Lehi campus and said he believes the state needs to make a much bigger committment to cultivating science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, college graduates to feed the growing in-state needs.
"Utah is not providing enough graduates in technology," Stephenson said. "We’re simply not providing our Silicon Slopes employers with the trained workforce they need.
"We’re currently spending $2 billion on higher education, but we’re not getting the water to the end of the road."
Sen. Jake Anderegg, R-Lehi, focused his comments on transportation issues, and like Stephenson, he expressed concerns about the state failing to keep up with demands.
"The reality is we can only move the economy as fast as we can move, and the transportation bottlenecks keep us from moving," Anderegg said. "We have to do more. We can’t just build more roads; we’ve got to be multimodal. We have to have trains, we’ve got to have bicycles, we’ve got to have different ways for people to get around.
"Not just for Adobe, but for the entire region."
Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox was somewhat more optimistic than his legislative colleagues in assessing the state's performance, highlighting the work already underway to keep up with the needs of Utah's growing slate of tech companies.
"I had an opportunity to talk with some major site selectors in New York recently about the future, and Utah is definitely on their map right now," Cox said. "What they’re most impressed with is that we are planning for the future."
Cox cited work accomplished in this year's legislative session, including the successful passage of $1 billion in transportation funding, further work on addressing air quality issues, and a renewed focus on growing the Utah talent pool — specifically putting "more funding than ever into STEM programming" — as evidence that the Beehive State has efforts in play to address industry needs.
Thursday's news adds to a string of recent announcements about tech business expansion in Utah, including Amazon’s intent to build an enormous shipping facility, staffed with 1,500 employees, in Salt Lake City’s northwest quadrant, and Utah-based reputation management company Podium’s plans to invest $10 million in a new headquarters and expand its workforce by 400.
Both companies also earned tax breaks under the Governor’s Office of Economic Development incentive program.