The Boeing Company has a strong and growing presence in the state of Utah. With more than 800 employees and almost 1,300 retirees currently living in the state, the company's footprint already extends much further than its direct employment.
The company currently utilizes approximately 250 Utah companies as suppliers and had made more than $220 million vendor purchases as of March 1, 2014. In addition, the company's wide-ranging charitable contributions are approaching $600,000.
Currently Boeing is developing an 877,000-square-foot facility on the aptly named Prosperity Lane in West Jordan. The facility will house work on the 787 airliner and other projects.
"This building is bona fide business-government collaboration at work," says Larry Coughlin, general manager at Boeing Salt Lake. "We were hoping to expand our Utah operations beyond our location near the airport, but weren't having much success."
As the Boeing Utah leadership team weighed options, struggling to find the fit they hoped for in Utah, they received a surprise phone call from Governor Gary Herbert's team.
"We could barely believe our ears," Coughlin recalls. "To get a direct call from the Governor and his team in such a key time, telling us they may have found a good option for us. And the truth is, this facility and location have been phenomenal for us, from a cost standpoint to the ability to get up and running quicker and more efficiently than otherwise would have been possible. The bottom line is that we would not be here without the proactive help of the Governor and his team."
When the company was considering moving the manufacturing for its new 777X large passenger airliner away from its Washington manufacturing facilities, Governor Herbert says, "I was honored by the fact that they told me my office was the first number they called. Ultimately they decided to keep that operation in Washington, but the fact that we are that high on their radar screen is an example of the significant sea change that has taken place in people's thought process and perspective of Utah as a place for business."
"Boeing has long been a great, great partner," says Governor Herbert. "We look forward to a long, productive and growing partnership with them."
The Boeing team is even more impressed with the Utah workforce than with the facility. "I've worked all around the world," says Coughlin. "I have found the Utah workforce to be top-notch throughout all areas of the organization."
The Boeing story, still developing and unfolding in many positive ways, is a compelling illustration of the productive power of effective collaboration between Utah's public and private sectors.