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Utah wraps up investigation into Domo CEO comments on tax incentives

Posted at 5:50 PM, Jan 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-03 19:50:49-05

SALT LAKE CITY — The state has ended an investigation into comments made by a Silicon Slopes CEO made to members of the legislature, criticizing tax incentives used to lure or retain companies.

Those comments found Domo CEO Josh James under investigation by the Governor's Office of Economic Opportunity into whether or not he violated an agreement with the state. At a breakfast at the Silicon Slopes Tech Summit that FOX 13 attended, numerous tech company CEOs offered some criticism of the legislature and the type of bills they pass.

James complained about liquor laws and other issues, but also economic incentives the state hands out to lure companies to Utah.

"I don't understand why the state gave me over $10 million to stay in Utah. I just it's incomprehensible. I was never going to leave, but I got $10 million from the state of Utah to stay," James said. "And I'll take it. Everyone else is taking it, I'll take it. But I'll give it back if we can get rid of that law and stop paying people from outside the state to hire my employees or take away employees I want to hire. I just don't understand that part of the budget."

What the Governor's Office of Economic Opportunity was investigating was whether Domo made misrepresentations to get those incentives, with no intention of really leaving Utah.

In a statement on Monday, the agency said it determined Domo had not.

"We determined that the evidence presented was satisfactory to establish that the company is operating in competitive states, has evaluated expansion to California and Washington for the EDTIF contract awarded in Jan. 2021, and is actively assessing corporate growth outside Utah," the agency said.

Domo cooperated with the investigation and previously told FOX 13 it was never in breach. The company did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment on Monday on the results of the investigation.

FOX 13 has been told numerous Silicon Slopes tech firms have been threatened in the past with investigations or having incentives cut off for political stances they've taken that have aggravated members of the Utah State Legislature. Silicon Slopes (the nickname for the tech companies that have located along the Salt Lake-Utah County line) recently formed a political action committee and has begun fundraising to advocate for issues on Utah's Capitol Hill.

"Our office did not find evidence of a breach, and Go Utah has recommended continuing the tax credit incentive as agreed in the contract," the Governor's Office of Economic Opportunity said in its statement.

Ironically, Governor Spencer Cox has indicated support for the idea of reviewing incentives the state hands out to lure or retain companies, given the massive growth and economic boom the state is experiencing.