Members of the Utah chapter of the Associated General Contractors of America gathered for their annual convention during the last week of January, with three days of meetings, seminars and a celebration of the construction industry in the Beehive state.

Photo by Brian Fryer
Spencer P. Eccles of the Utah Governor's Office of Economic Development lays out the state's plans to encourage growth and construction in the coming years.

In keeping with the theme of “Perspective,” the convention began with a state economic outlook from Spencer P. Eccles, executive director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development. Eccles provided some context on recent business activity in the state and presented future plans by Gov. Gary Herbert to improve the climate for economic development and construction in the state.

Eccles noted that Utah has been fortunate relative to other states to have major construction projects under way during the economic downturn. He pointed to projects such as the nearly $2-billion City Creek mixed-use development in downtown Salt Lake City, multiple buildings at the University of Utah and the $1.2-billion National Security Data Center that have sustained the construction industry and the state.

“Utah has an unemployment rate of 6% compared to 8.5% nationally,” he said. “We have worked to create a safe, stable business environment in Utah. Companies have been attracted here because of things like our low tax rate and our young, highly educated workforce.”

Eccles said that growth has not been limited to the capital city. Proctor and Gamble, Lighthouse foods and Disney Corp. have all impacted rural areas by building new multi-million dollar production facilities there.

Eccles laid out the state’s plans to continue making Utah attractive to capital and development. “We want to create a diversified base that is not just tied to one industry,” he said.

Best of 2011 Awards

At the chapter’s annual awards ceremony, Jacobsen Construction and Okland Construction were each honored with five awards for their work on major projects in the state. Jacobsen’s notable projects from the past year ranged from a new Intensive Care Pavilion at the University of Utah Hospital to the 700,000-sq-ft City Creek development, which is transforming downtown Salt Lake City. Okland Construction was praised for construction of the newest addition to the Huntsman Cancer Hospital on the University of Utah campus, a downtown office remodel, the replacement of three elementary schools for Granite School District and the 32-story Promontory residential tower in the City Creek development.

City Creek was named as the Grand Project of the Year and honors were shared among the three major contractors involved—Jacobsen, Okland and Big-D.

The Transportation Project of the Year award went to Wadsworth Brothers Construction for a new bridge on U.S. 191 near Moab, Utah. The 438-ft concrete bridge over the Colorado River is the longest concrete span in the state.

The Large Contractor of the Year honor, presented by the Utah Dept. of Transportation, was split between Granite Construction and Washington County Constructors. Granite was recognized for its work on a number of bridge deck replacements around the state. WCC (a joint venture of Granite Construction and Ralph L. Wadsworth Construction) was lauded for its work on the new Dixie Drive freeway interchange in St. George, Utah.