Amazon to Utah? The reason some say ‘no way!’

Posted at 6:12 PM, Sep 13, 2017

SALT LAKE CITY -- There's a giant prize dangling out there for Economic Development Directors in cities across North America, and speculation on who might have the inside track has already begun.

America's dominant online retailer, Amazon, has decided to build a second headquarters to complement its hub in Seattle. The selected city would get an infusion of money: $5 billion in the early going, and Amazon says they would employ a workforce of about 50,000.

The New York Times' Upshot, a data-crunching unit, published an article called "Dear Amazon, We picked your new headquarters for you."

Spoiler, they picked Denver.

Salt Lake City made the first cut for meeting Amazon's basic requirement as a metropolitan area with over a million people.

After that, the Times decided Salt Lake City didn't have the potential to provide such a large pool of skilled employees.

Not so, says Mike Flynn, the C.O.O. of the Economic Development Corporation of Utah.

Flynn declined to talk about Amazon specifically, saying the EDC had a policy of not commenting on "active projects." (Apparently, there IS an active project to recruit Amazon.)

But on the Times critique of Utah's workforce?

"We've got one of the best workforces in the country," Flynn said.

Flynn also pointed out that Utah is the youngest state in the country and one of the fastest growing.

"We know we graduate between forty and fifty thousand students a year, and we know most of them would like to stay in the state if opportunities existed here," Flynn said.

Still, Flynn confirmed Utah currently has a worker shortage, but he said that is typical of cities with strong economies.

"Any market in the country that is worth doing business in has a talent shortage right now," Flynn said.