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The $20 billion global digital storage company EMC Corp. officially opened a technical support center in Draper on Wednesday that is expected to eventually employ about 500 people with high-tech and customer service skills.

The 25,000-square-foot center has been operating since December, and EMC officials said they expect to have the 500 jobs filled by the end of 2015. To qualify for a $3.5 million state tax incentive, the jobs are to pay at least 125 percent of Salt Lake County's average annual wage of $41,636 in 2011, or about $52,000.

Howard Elias, EMC president and chief operating officer for computing infrastructure and cloud services, said the center employs engineers and others to engage in "really deep technical services," he said in an interview after the formal ceremony.

The company, headquartered in Hopkinton, Mass., was recently ranked 152nd on the ­Fortune 500 list of largest U.S. companies for 2011. It staged a ceremony Wednesday attended by Gov. Gary Herbert to mark the opening of the center.

EMC provides computer storage hardware and software for its clients, focusing on cloud computing that involves large banks of servers operating together. The company has 53,000 employees worldwide and eight other customer support centers.

Elias said Utah was chosen after the company decided to create a U.S. customer center that would serve federal agencies and companies that wanted services that were U.S. based. It also wanted a location that could supply workers who spoke Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese to serve Central and South American companies' information technology needs.

"Today's event is the result of many months of collaboration and of Utah's ability to meet our needs for an IT skilled workforce, a competitive infrastructure and an attractive cost and quality of living," Elias said before introducing Herbert.

The governor, who announced his bid for re-election Tuesday night, spent most of his speech noting economic indicators and lists of best places to do business where Utah holds a top position.

In June of last year, EMC announced it would open the center somewhere in the Salt Lake area. It ended up in a building just west of Interstate 15 in Draper.

The company would not say how many people are employed there.

The state Economic Development Corp. board last year approved a tax incentive of $3.5 million for the company with its commitment to invest $7 million in the facility and hire for 500 well-paying positions within 10 years.

Todd Brightwell, senior vice president at the Economic Development Corp. of Utah, said incentives are a decisive factor when companies are looking to locate facilities "because you don't get on the list unless you have something that's relatively competitive."

He also pointed to the growing importance of a workforce that speaks different languages, noting Utah's supply of returned LDS missionaries and its growing language programs in schools.

"It's significant," Brightwell said.

Twitter: @TomHarveySltrib #uttech —

EMC Corp.

Headquarters • Hopkinton, Mass.

2011 revenue • $20 billion

No. of employees • 53,000

Position on Fortune 500 largest U.S. companies • 152

Other Utah operations • Mozy Inc., Pleasant Grove; Iomega Corp., Roy