Provo: Economy

Major Industries and Commercial Activity

The Provo-Orem area has a diverse economy with every employment sector well represented. The area is home to the second largest concentration of software technologies companies in the United States and has the third largest concentration of high-technology companies. There is also a large concentration of biotech companies located in the area.

Some of the world's major software companies are located in the area, including Novell, Inc., Symantec and Corel, creating opportunities for more than 400 small to mid-range high-technology companies. Provo is also home to such giants as Nestle Frozen Foods and Nu Skin Enterprises Inc. High-technology companies in the Provo/Orem area include Micron Technology, Ameritech Library Services, Convergys, Folio Corporation, Viewsoft, and Nimbus Manufacturing, among others.

The notable work ethic of local employees and the appeal of a serene mountain community have made Provo ideal for a wide variety of manufacturers, communications firms, and marketing and retail organizations, including Banta Press, Nature's Sunshine, Sears Telecatalog, PowerQuest Corp., and Powder River Manufacturing. Many industrial parks offer a variety of settings for light to heavy industry with abundant, low-cost utilities.

As other sectors of the economy have prospered in recent years, retailers have seen dramatic increases as well. Provo is a magnet for many of the surrounding counties and the major shopping areas are easily accessible from I-15 and other main routes.

Items and goods produced: iron, steel, software, fruit, electronics, apparel

Incentive Programs—New and Existing Companies

Local programs

Most incentive programs are at the state level. Provo City's Redevelopment Agency provides support for starting a new business by offering assistance in preparing a business plan and demographic information necessary for decision making.

State programs

The Utah Small Business Development Center (USBDC) helps established and start-up companies prepare business plans, set sales goals, identify customers and the competition, analyze the market, find property, and research financing sources. The USBDC is part of a network that operates in all 50 states and is supported by the federal government. It offers a five-week business planning class and other classes including management, risk management, accounting, computerizing one's business, budgeting, cash management, and running a home-based business. The State of Utah makes available a Revolving Loan Fund, which provides up to $100,000 to qualified applicants for working capital, equipment, and lease improvements, etc. The Utah Microenterprise Loan Fund provides financing to owners, particularly those who are socially or economically disadvantaged, of both new and existing companies who don't have access to traditional funding sources. Job tax credits and investment tax credits are available to manufacturing, recycling, information technology, and warehousing businesses that relocate or establish themselves in designated rural areas. Companies can receive tax credits for getting involved in recycling activities in recycling zones, for example. The State of Utah's Office of Technology Development offers assistance in creating and developing technology-oriented businesses through its Centers of Excellence Program. The State helps companies commercialize leading edge technologies which have been developed in selected research programs at universities in Utah.

Job training programs

The Small Business Development Center in Orem/Provo provides free personal consulting services and low-cost skill-based training to owners and managers of small businesses and to prospective entrepreneurs.

Development Projects

One of the largest redevelopment projects Provo City has undertaken has been the Ironton Redevelopment Project. Potential plans for the 338-acre former Ironton Steel mill abandoned since 1962 include a commercial/industrial business park. Environmental clean-up to remove contaminants from the coke and iron-making operations are underway and the city has started construction of South Mountain Vista Parkway at Ironton.

Completed in March 2005, the new Wells Fargo Center is a 100,000 square foot, seven-story mixed use building in Provo. The building is home to Wells Fargo Bank, as well as MultiLing Corp., a translation and language services company, plus other professional offices and residential condominiums on the top three floors.

Construction of a new convention center and hotel for downtown Provo and a new cultural arts facility at the former Provo City Library were in the planning stages in 2005.

Economic Development Information: Provo City Economic Development, 425 West Center St., Provo, UT 84603; telephone (801)852-6160

Commercial Shipping

Provo is served by the Denver & Rio Grand Western and the Union Pacific railroads, which offer second-morning service to 90 percent of the Western markets. The Provo area is served by 40 major trucking lines. The expanding Provo Municipal Airport can serve and handle most aircraft and is equipped with an instrument-landing system and a weather-reporting capability.

Labor Force and Employment Outlook

The Provo-Orem area boasts low unemployment; favorable taxes; a young, educated, "internationally skilled" work force; and a growing population. Utah's labor market is made up of a large percentage of young people. The Provo work force not only has a high education level, among its other qualities are foreign language ability, foreign service experience, and a strong work ethic. The state of Utah ranks among the nation's leaders in job growth, with nonfarm employment continuing to grow in 2004-2005. All sectors posted job growth in 2004, and the largest gains could be seen in the professional and business services sector; the trade, transportation and utilities sector; and the construction sector. Utah Valley remains one of the hottest high-tech areas in the nation, which continues to bring in entrepreneurs, big business, and new and higher-paying jobs.

The following is a summary of data regarding the ProvoOrem metropolitan area labor force, 2004 annual averages.

Size of non-agricultural labor force: 162,900

Number of workers employed in . . .

construction and mining: 11,900

manufacturing: 17,500

trade, transportation and utilities: 26,300

information: 7,100

financial activities: 6,100

professional and business services: 19,600

educational and health services: 33,900

leisure and hospitality: 12,800

other services: 4,000

government: 23,700

Average hourly earnings of production workers employed in manufacturing: $13.80 (Provo-Orem MSA)

Unemployment rate: 4.9% (February 2005)

Provo: Economy

Largest employers (2002) Number of employees
Brigham Young University 14,500
Alpine School District 6,213
IHC Health Care Services 3,650
Utah Valley State College 3,165
Nebo School District 2,371
Convergys 2,000
Provo School District 1,900
Nestle USA Food Group Inc. 1,899
Novell, Inc. (manufacturing) 1,800
Modus Media International 1,200

Cost of Living

Overall cost of living in Provo/Orem ranks close to the national average.

The following is a summary of data regarding key cost of living factors for the Provo area.

2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Average House Price: $239,650 (Salt Lake City metro)

2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Cost of Living Index: 97.3 (Salt Lake City metro) (U.S. average = 100.0)

State income tax rate: Ranges from 2.30% to 7.0%

State sales tax rate: 4.75%

Local income tax rate: None

Local sales tax rate: 6.25%

Property tax assessment rate: .002787 applied to 55% of assessed value for residential property and 100% of assessed value for commercial property (2005)

Economic Information: The Provo Orem Chamber of Commerce, 51 South University Avenue, Suite 215, Provo, UT 84601; telephone (801)851-2555.