DRAPER — The technology presence along Utah’s “Silicon Slopes” continues to increase as two established companies move into brand new facilities and promise to grow the state’s employment base.
On Friday, eBay cut the ribbon on a new local headquarters near the FrontRunner commuter rail line in southern Salt Lake County.
Devlin Daley and Brian Whitmer, both of whom studied in the computer science program at BYU, founded the company in 2008 to create a simple and easy-to-use technology platform to facilitate learning at high schools, colleges and universities.
In February 2011, the company launched the Canvas learning management system that is today used by more than 6 million students at K-12 districts nationwide; and 350 colleges and institutions, including Auburn University, Brown University, the University of Washington and all of Utah’s public institutions of higher education.
“The idea is to have a usable system that people can collaborate (and) communicate in with a focus on learning,” Whitmer said. “It works well for face-to-face classes, for fully online courses and anything in between.”
To fund the company’s expansion, Instructure made a $2.1 million capital investment and will also pay more than $9.4 million in new state taxes over the seven-year life of the incentive agreement.
Scott Murray, vice president of global customer experiences for eBay, said the new building will help strengthen the company’s long-term commitment to the state and its growing employee team.
“We started off with five employees (13 years ago) and have grown to 1,800 employees,” Murray said.
Until now, the company hadn't been able to consolidate its workforce into one central location, he explained.
The new facility represents “getting us into one place (and) reinforcing our sense of community and how important it is to us,” Murray said.
“For us, this is a key moment to actually be together as one group and to be able to give our teammates amazing amenities and a great place to work,” he said.
Located on 36 acres, the 241,000-square-foot facility was designed to be LEED Gold certified for energy efficiency and includes a fitness center, 400-seat auditorium and a full-service cafeteria.
The company has invested more than $250 million in the expansion of its South Jordan data center and the new Draper property, according to spokesman Brad Hatch.
In August 2011, the global online auction marketer announced plans to expand its operations in Draper to include construction of the now completed state-of-the-art facility. In addition, the company said it would hire 2,200 more workers over the next two decades. According to Murray, eBay has already added 400 new jobs since then.
In Utah, eBay currently employs about 1,800 workers and operates a major customer service center in Draper that includes support functions such as human resources, finance, account management, call center management, training and legal, along with product and project management. The company also operates a data center in South Jordan.
Worldwide, eBay employs nearly 18,000 people.
In 2011, the Governor's Office of Economic Development board granted the company a post-performance refundable tax credit of $38.2 million over 20 years. That latest incentive combined with two previous job-based incentives in May 2009 and October 2009 to create a single comprehensive incentive package based on eBay expanding its workforce by more than 2,480 Utah employees at an average salary that will exceed 125 percent of the Salt Lake County average wage.
If the company meets the hiring goals, the result would be more than $127 million in new state tax revenue over the 20-year period.
Another tech firm also debuted a new facility Friday as Utah-based Instructure moved into its new headquarters near the east bench of Salt Lake County.
An educational software developer, Instructure officially moved into its new space at 6330 S. 3000 East in Salt Lake City.
The firm estimated it would bring 655 potential new jobs to Utah over the seven-year lifetime of an incentive agreement reached with the GOED in December 2012. Currently, the company employs around 200 people.
The average annual wage and benefits of the new incentivized positions will be 125 percent of Salt Lake County’s yearly annual wage, including benefits. The wages and benefits will total about $235 million over the seven-year period.