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For the second time in two months, the Governor's Office of Economic Development board has granted a sizable incentive to one of its own members.
Amy Rees Anderson was approved for an incentive package of as much as $1.8 million to expand her company, MediConnect Global, in Ephraim in Sanpete County, adding about 300 jobs over the next 10 years.
Anderson is CEO of the fast-growing firm, which provides medical records-retrieval, scanning and storage services. She also is a member of the GOED board, which is made up of private and public-sector leaders who review requests by corporations for taxpayer-funded incentives. Members are not prevented from receiving such enticements.
In October, board member Nikos Linardakis was approved for an incentive of as much as $407,000 to produce in Utah a movie called "A Toast to the American Dream." He will get that money -- a fairly large incentive for a film -- after he completes the project and the state ensures he has met certain criteria, such as reaching specific spending thresholds while filming in the state.
The incentive for MediConnect was unanimously approved by the GOED board, with Anderson and fellow member James Lee Sorenson recusing themselves from the vote. Sorenson is an investor in MediConnect and is on its board.
GOED board members voiced widespread support for MediConnect, praising Anderson's leadership, the company's fast growth during difficult economic times and the fact that the project benefits less-populated areas of the state. Gerald Sherratt, mayor of Cedar City, called the expansion "great for Sanpete County, and all of rural Utah."
Others noted that there were plenty of other locations MediConnect could have chosen. MediConnect employs 1,000 people in two offices in Utah and one in India .
Anderson said her company had been reviewing several sites for expansion within the United States and in India. She explained that another GOED board member suggested she apply for the incentive from the state of Utah.
Anderson said she's not bothered by the fact that she applied for an incentive, payable in the form of a tax credit over 10 years, that was reviewed by a board of which she is a member. "Those jobs would have ended up going somewhere else, and now they'll end up in the state."
Incentives -- whether for corporate expansions or for film production -- typically are given in cases where Utah is in competition with other states. The money is intended to make the state more competitive for good-paying jobs.
The standards for what constitutes a good-paying job differ between rural and urban areas. For example, MediConnect will offer an average wage slightly above Sanpete County's average wage of $24,777, a figure that includes benefits such as health coverage. To get state money for expansions along the Wasatch Front, companies must pay at least 25 percent above the average county wage.
In her application for state money, Anderson said her South Jordan-based company already has a presence in Ephraim and was considering the small Sanpete County community among several sites for expansion.
Anderson opened a facility in the community in October 2006 that employs around 35 people.
"We are excited this will help us expand down there and make a bigger commitment to the community," Anderson said Thursday.
The state offered Fairchild Semiconductor in West Jordan an incentive package worth as much as $1.3 million to convince the company to select Utah for an expansion that would keep nearly 500 workers in Utah and could create 65 positions over a four-year period. Fairchild has not announced what it will do.