June 25, 2008

  A Publication of the Economic Development Corporation of Utah
CEO Jeff Edwards

President's Message

Utah Ranks 8th
in Milken Index

We couldn’t have asked for better timing. While we were in San Diego last week for the 2008 BIO International Convention—the gathering of the world’s greatest minds within the biotechnology industry—the Milken Institute was busy releasing its 2008 Science and Technology Index, which ranks each of the states according to their investments in technology and science. Not surprisingly, Utah ranks eighth. This is no small feet and an affirmation that Utah’s investments in its Centers of Excellence and economic clusters are paying off and bringing greater recognition to the state.

Across the way from BIO, another convention of import for Utah was taking place in San Diego: the 2008 Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems (AUVSI) convention. This is the world’s largest event focusing on the international ground, air and maritime unmanned systems marketplace. And like our life sciences cluster, Utah has a growing niche in the unmanned vehicle systems industry as well. This week’s feature story highlights Utah’s participation in the AUVSI convention, which was spearheaded by the Governor’s Office of Economic Development.

Today's Economic Review also includes links to many of the ED-related news stories from the past week. As always, if you have comments, suggestions or topics you'd like to see in the Economic Review, please contact us by clicking the “Comments” button on the bottom of this page. Enjoy!

Jeff Edwards

Jeff Edwards
President and CEO


Utah Companies Show Well at AUVSI Convention in San Diego

As you know, Utah is well known for its spectacular vistas, magnificent skiing and many other recreational opportunities, but don’t forget its airspace.

That’s right. The restricted air and ground space of Utah’s west desert has become the preferred location to test and evaluate unmanned vehicles for military and commercial applications. Having the most open air and ground space in the country has drawn the attention of leading military groups and commercial enterprises within the unmanned vehicle industry, many of which want to test and evaluate their systems here, says Marshall Wright, director of business development in the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED).

Wright just returned from the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems (AUVSI) 2008 Convention, held last week in San Diego, where he led a contingency of Utah organizations participating in the convention’s Utah Pavilion.

The AUVSI convention is the world’s largest event focusing on the international ground, air and maritime unmanned systems marketplace. As such, it hosts the largest gathering of government, business, technology and academic leaders in the unmanned systems community. Wright says there were some 4,000 attendees and 275 exhibitors from over 30 countries there.

This is the third year that GOED has lead a Utah contingency at the convention and the effort has paid off by attracting a number of military-related unmanned systems programs to Dugway and Hill Air Force Base, to use their air and ground space. While most of the interest in Utah has come from the Department of Defense, Utah is attracting a lot of interest from commercial enterprises developing unmanned vehicle systems.

“Companies and military programs developing unmanned vehicle systems need a lot of space where there is no public encroachment. We have some great corridors here that are free of commercial aviation and controlled by either Dugway or Hill,” says Wright.

One company, General Atomics, which developed the Predator unmanned aircraft, is currently working on a partnership with Hill. Another company, yet to be announced, is interested in bringing its new unmanned vehicle program to Utah for final assembly, testing and evaluation.

Wright says all eight of the Utah Pavilion participants attracted attention for their unique products and applications. Utah-based Marshall Electronics, which got its start building small locators for falconry enthusiasts, now makes a tiny transponder for small, hand-launched unmanned vehicle systems. Wright says the product has opened up a whole new market for the company and created a lot of buzz at the convention.

Another draw at the convention came from Flying Sensors, a Utah company developing surveillance and video capabilities for unmanned vehicles using technology first introduced at Brigham Young University. And the entrepreneurial company Hyperblimp drew attention for its ultra-streamlined, low drag, helium-filled airships, which will be used for unmanned aerial surveillance.

Other companies in the Utah Pavilion included:

  • ImSAR, which has developed a revolutionary, lightweight radar system called NanoSAR using “synthetic aperature radar" (SAR) for unmanned aerial vehicles. Wright says ImSAR has participated in the Utah pavilion for several years and is now attracting business from both commercial aviation and military programs.
  • Applied Engineering Products, which has developed a robotic vehicle for the disarming and clearance of land mines.
  • ATK, which manufactures composite structures for unmanned platforms.

  • L-3 Communication Systems - West, which designs and manufactures communications systems for manned and unmanned surveillance platforms. (L-3 Communications Systems – West also took part in parent booth for L-3 Communications.)

Three other Utah companies had their own exhibit space at the convention:

  • Kairos Automni, which builds unmanned ground vehicles for military and commercial applications.
  • Autonomous Solutions Inc. (ASI) – a Cache Valley company, designs and manufactures unmanned vehicle systems, software and components for a variety of industrial and military customers.
  • Procerus Technologies, which develops and markets an autopilot system for mini and micro unmanned aerial vehicles.

Representatives from both Dugway Proving Grounds and Hill Air Force Base were on hand at the convention, as well. Also of note, several representatives from the U.S. Forest Service (with whom Wright is working) led discussions at the convention about the use of unmanned vehicles for the prediction and fighting of forest fires.

Wright says the AUVSI convention is an important event for Utah and its growing cluster of companies with products in the unmanned vehicle systems industry. The convention helps Utah companies attract business, especially from Department of Defense programs; it attracts companies to Utah as the preferred place to test and evaluate their products; and it draws attention to Utah as a great place to locate a business.

In The News

Economic Development Headlines from the Past Week

Three companies get Utah incentives

- Utah has offered online auctioneer eBay an incentive worth as much as $27.3 million to convince the company to build a new data-storage center that would employ 50 people in the Salt Lake area. (SL Tribune)

eBay Considering Utah for Major New Data Center

- The Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) Business Development Board met Friday and approved Economic Development Tax Increment Financing (EDTIF) incentives for several industry leading companies. Among them eBay Inc., a leading internet company, was offered an EDTIF incentive of approximately $27 million .
(Utah Business Magazine)

Mine offices moving in

- An underground mine contracting and engineering company on Friday selected Salt Lake County for its U.S. headquarters, after receiving a state tax-credit incentive. (Morning News)

Utah keeps top-10 rank in science, technology

- Utah has remained in the top 10 — even moving up a notch — in a closely watched ranking of top technology and science states.
(Morning News)

BDO on the way up – Hershey, Barnes, Southern Classic Food moving in

- Since its conversion to private, commercial use began in 2000, BDO has become a thriving center of industry. It now has 80 tenants employing a combined 3,400 workers, who build everything from nutritional supplements to jet engines to kitchen sinks. (Standard Examiner)

Utah Recognized as Top Ten Business Climate State

- Utah has received three top recognitions to add to its list of economic accolades. In its July issue 2008, Business Facilities ranked Utah as a Top Ten State for Business Climate, Manufacturing Momentum and Most Educated Workforce. (Utah Business Magazine)

Utahns' personal income increases by 1.2 percent

- Utahns' personal income grew by 1.2 percent in the first quarter of this year, less than half the 2.5 percent growth they saw in the first quarter of 2007, according to estimates released Thursday by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. (Morning News)

Ski Season Brings Utah $1 Billion

- What seemed like an endless winter season has resulted in big bucks for Utah’s ski and snowboard industry. Ski Utah reported Monday that the 2007-08 ski season brought more than $1 billion to Utah’s economy. (Utah Business Magazine)

Housing slump hits other industries

- The effects of a slowing housing market are also felt by retail and financial service industries. Retail, which accounts for 18 percent of total employment, added 5,700 jobs in May from a year ago. But retail job growth is expected to slow as high gas, energy and food prices and the housing slump dampen consumer spending. (Daily Herald)

Homebuilding slump: Utah job growth hits worst level in two years

- Utah's economy, which just two years ago was creating jobs at a nation's-best rate, probably won't be generating any job gains by the end of the year because of a deeper-than-expected downturn in the state's homebuilding sector. (SL Tribune) (Morning News) (Daily Herald)

Health, economy, rivals leave RTC in limbo

- It’s been a decade with very few answers. The original plan was brimming with hope and excitement, promising to restore the vibrancy of the Five Points Mall in its heyday. Now, almost 10 years later, the site remains unfinished, pockmarked by empty spaces, a scarred terrain and the unfulfilled promise of the much anticipated Renaissance Towne Center. (Clipper Today)

Study Examines Economic Trends in Iron County and Southwest Utah

- The Southwest Utah Planning Authorities Council conducted a presentation on demographic and economic trends in Southwestern Utah the afternoon of June 5. (Cedar City Review)

Tourism board hopes to give state boost through Sundance sponsorship

- For a $60,000 investment, the Utah Board of Tourism Development has become an "Institute Associate" for the 2009 Sundance Film Festival. Name recognition and other privileges accompany the sponsorship classification. (SL Tribune)

SLC eager to impress meeting planners group

- The group's name really does not convey just how important its annual meeting is to Salt Lake County's economic future. But Utah's hospitality industry is keenly aware of the rewards that can be reaped from a job well done for the Healthcare Convention and Exhibitors Association (HCEA), whose meeting begins today and runs through Tuesday at the Salt Palace Convention Center. About 700 visitors are expected. (SL Tribune)

NIH Created 3,000 Jobs in Utah Last Year, Study Finds

- A new report from healthcare advocacy group Families USA claims Utah's economy gained more than $350 million dollars in business activity last year because of grants from the National Institutes of Health, and calls on Congress to increase NIH funding at a faster rate. (KCPW)


June 25: Quarterly Investor Update (This Is the Place State Park)
Aug. 6: OIA Thought Leader
Sept. 4: EDCUtah Annual Meeting (Grand America)
Sept. 8: 2nd Annual What's IN OUT Back Economic Summit and Golf Tournament  (Zermatt Resort/Homestead Resort & Golf Course)
Sept. 13-17: IAMC (Oklahoma)
Sept. 25: What's Goin' Down Up North - Northern Utah Economic Summit,  9 a.m. - 3 p.m. (Utah State University Innovation Campus, North Logan) Registration form
Oct. 9-12: CoreNet (Orlando)
Oct. 21: 3rd Annual Procurement Symposium
Oct. 22: Quarterly Update
Dec. 17: Holiday Open House (EDCUtah)


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