Prosthetics company to expand Utah operations
Economic Development • Tax rebates will help Ottobock Healthcare add more than 80 employees.
Published: January 13, 2014 12:27PM
Updated: January 14, 2014 05:09PM

A German company that makes advanced prosthetic devices, including leg parts that will be used by two American snowboarders at the Sochi Paralympics in March, has received a state incentive to expand its operations in Salt Lake City.

Ottobock HealthCare will receive a post-performance tax credit of $392,000 to help finance its plan to add more than 80 jobs at its manufacturing facility at 3820 W. Great Lake Dr. (2555 South).

Those jobs, including 55 that are legally obligated to pay a minimum of 125 percent of Salt Lake County’s average annual wage, are projected to generate $16.2 million in new wages over the seven-year life of the agreement with the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development.

The rebate amounts to about 20 percent of the $2 million in new taxes the company is estimated to pay in that period. Ottobock’s investment in the expansion is likely to approach $1 million, said company spokeswoman Karen Lundquist.

“The international reach of Ottobock HealthCare strengthens and diversifies Utah’s life sciences and composite sectors,” said GOED Executive Director Spencer Eccles. “The company will find our multilingual and productive Utah employees unrivaled by any other workforce around the world.”

Jeff Edwards, president and CEO of the Economic Development Corp. of Utah, added that Ottobock’s decision to expand here reflects well on the state’s promotion of its array of life-science firms.

“It is important to companies like Ottobock that Utah has a well-established cluster where deep and mature talent pools increase their efficiency,” he added.

A presence in Salt Lake City since the mid-1990s, Ottobock first grew with the 2001 acquisition of Springlite, a prosthetic foot company. It currently has about 180 employees.

Lundquist said two Ottobock divisions will relocate to Salt Lake City from Minneapolis, the main U.S. location of the worldwide company started in 1919 by Otto Bock to help World War I amputees. Based in Duderstadt, Germany, the parent company has more than 7,000 employees.

One of the relocating divisions features employees who take different leg, knee and foot parts and fit them together to best meet the needs of specific recipients, Lundquist said. The second is Ottobock’s sales and service team.

The company plans to hire some Utahns, she noted. The number depends on how many employees accept transfers from Minneapolis.

Although Ottobock has worked closely with the U.S. military in recent years, fitting soldiers injured in Iraq or Afghanistan with prosthetics, Lundquist said most recipients lost limbs due to cardiovascular problems or diabetes.

Disabled athletes are customers as well, including two Americans who made the U.S. snowboarding team for the Sochi Games — Keith Gable of Ogden and Lucas Grossi of Billings, Mont.

mikeg@sltrib.com

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