WSU Assists Utah's Aerospace and Defense Industry


Utah Cluster Acceleration Strategy Aims To Grow Utah’s $5.4 Billion Aerospace and Defense Industry

SALT LAKE CITY -- The Utah System of Higher Education (USHE), the Department of Workforce Services (DWS), the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) and Grow Utah Ventures released today the Utah Cluster Acceleration Partnership (UCAP) strategy to grow Utah’s $5.4 billion dollar aerospace and defense industry.

This acceleration strategy culminates more than six months of intensive work convened by Weber State University involving leaders from Utah's aerospace and defense industry, academia and economic development. The entire effort is directed at accelerating the expansion and growth of this vital industry to Utah's overall economy. Utah’s aerospace and defense related activities account for more than $5.4 billion annually to the state's economy and employs more than 42,000 Utah residents. 

 “Aerospace and Defense is one of the top two significant industries in Utah and generates tremendous amounts of revenue within the state every year,” said Weber State UniversityPresident Ann Millner. “The aerospace industry has been under fire lately with announcements about budget cuts at NASA and other major players in this industry.  These cuts directly affect Utah-based companies like ATK and these cluster initiatives are our response to these cuts and our way of taking control to continue to grow this industry in Utah despite the cut backs.”

“One of the things that attracts businesses to Utah is our highly educated and trained workforce,” said Dr. William A. Sederburg, Commissioner of Higher Education.  “The strategy that’s been developed through this cluster will create more opportunities for talented people to get the training and education they need to help strengthen our position in this industry and create more jobs through the companies that move to and base their operations out of Utah.”

"Our traditional strengths at Hill Air Force Base are to maintain a portion of the Air Force's fleet, this has expanded into the highly complex systems and new technologies that are utilized in today's generation of aircraft systems," said Mark Johnson, Ogden Air Logistics Center Executive Director. "We are emerging as the major location with the critical work force skills to maintain, repair and test these vital aircraft systems."

"Our ultimate goal is to understand what skills and workforce talents we need to meet the needs of key industries," said Kristen Cox, Executive Director, Department of Workforce Services. “By focusing on workforce needs in this area, we will accomplish our goal of nurturing an environment where Utah companies can be successful and the business community can create jobs that raise Utah’s citizen’s standard of living.”

“Utah is the only state we’re aware of that has taken this approach of combining these entities to develop a strategy to ensure the growth of critical industries,” said T. Craig Bott, President and CEO of Grow Utah Ventures and strategic facilitator and industry acceleration advisor on the project.   “I’m confident that this strategy will help us bring in more revenue for the state, create more jobs, develop the talent needed at our Universities to keep us on the cutting edge of technology and encourage more businesses in this industry to start and locate their businesses here.”

The Utah Cluster Acceleration Partnership (UCAP) is a collaboration of leaders from industry, state government, higher education and workforce services to develop a comprehensive strategy to significantly increase the economic impact of Utah’s most important industry clusters.  The design of three pilot acceleration strategies are currently underway; Aerospace and Defense, Energy and Digital Media.

The primary purpose of the Acceleration Strategies is to:

• Develop responsive, industry-driven education and training systems that will provide a skilled talent pipeline to meet the short- and long-term needs of selected industry clusters,
• Develop strategies, partnerships and models that best meet the talent and innovation support needs of Utah’s key industry clusters,
• Leverage the resources and expertise within Utah’s higher education network to accelerate Utah’s industry clusters, and
• Identify best practices that can be replicated, sustained, and used by other industry cluster initiatives ongoing.

 “Governor Herbert continues to demonstrate his commitment to economic development statewide and the Utah Cluster Acceleration Partnership demonstrates his focus on growing business, both large and small,  throughout the State,” said Spencer Eccles, Executive Director at GOED. 

The Utah Science Technology and Research Initiative (USTAR) has been a key participant in establishing the aerospace and defense cluster strategy and will continue to provide its expertise in upcoming cluster initiatives.

Jeremy Kartchner, Snapp Conner PR
Jeremy Kartchner, Snapp Conner PR