Why aerospace industry might be the next economic powerhouse in SLC


Local leaders say that Utah’s aerospace industry could be the next big economic powerhouse for in Salt Lake City. Lara Fritts, director for the Salt Lake City Department of Economic Development, visited Good Morning Utah to talk about it.

When we say “aerospace industry” it can mean a wide variety of job functions and skill sets. 

Fritt said Utah plays a critical role in defense and aerospace–jobs range from maintenance to manufacturing in both commercial and defense.

“Our local strength is design, software and control systems, and testing,” she said. “What many may not realize Utah has a growing aerospace manufacturing sector with a particular local expertise in advanced composite fabrication.”

She said it’s all about setting up our companies for success long term and building that talent pipeline

“We’re talking about an industry that accounts for nearly 1,000 companies and more than 30,000 jobs in Utah,” Fritts said. “Think about the influence of Hill Air Force Base, not only is it a transfer of skills from the defense sector but our tech talent pool.”

Frits said it’s growing industry with many jobs to fill, especially in manufacturing.

What does that path look like if I were considering a career in this field?

  • Utah is committed to supporting all of these jobs through education programs.
  • We have high concentrations of aerospace engineers, materials scientists – backed by 7 university aerospace programs
  • It’s an exciting field to work in, with good-paying jobs
  • On the manufacturing side, there is a strong push to attract new talent
  • Utah Aerospace Pathways Program provides training to high school students in aerospace manufacturing.
  • The Salt Lake City Community College new Westpointe Campus now offers Composites Technology training

What makes Salt Lake City stand out?

  • We have achieved high national rankings in the past for out aerospace manufacturing. Largely based on business costs and available talent
  • Our advantage is proximity to tech and availability of aerospace and defense resources in our own backyard.
  • Salt Lake City offers so much opportunity to land availability, work sources, education, and quality of life.
  • If you’re an aviation company who wants to attract the best and brightest employees and care about their quality of life you would have to think about Salt Lake City

Fritts said L3Technologies recently announced a $50 million facility expansion near the airport. “If you’re not familiar with L3, they develop advanced defense technologies and commercial solutions for the aviation industry,” she said. L3 currently has 3,500 employees and plans on adding 250 more.

To learn more you can visit the Department of Economic Developments website.

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