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New jobs to make Goldman Utah office 4th-largest globally

With the addition of 300 new employees by the end of 2012, Goldman Sachs Group’s fast-growing office in Salt Lake City will be the investment bank’s fourth-largest office in the world, a spokeswoman for Gov. Gary Herbert said Wednesday.

"They love Utah," Herbert spokeswoman Ally Isom said. "Salt Lake City is their second-largest U.S. office, their fifth-largest office in the world, and by the end of the year it will be their fourth-largest."

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Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein announced details of the company’s latest hiring plans to employees at a town hall meeting in Salt Lake City Tuesday. The increase would bring Goldman’s workforce in the city to 1,600, Blankfein was quoted as saying by a Goldman staffer who was present, Reuters reported. The person asked not to be identified because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

Blankfein, 57, was in Salt Lake City to meet with Herbert and Mayor Ralph Becker, and also to make his first visit to Goldman’s downtown office at 222 S. Main St.

Goldman’s New York-based spokesman David Wells confirmed Blankfein’s visit but could not verify the employment figures because he wasn’t at the meeting.

"We’re proud to be a part of the growing and vibrant Utah business community," Wells said.

Goldman first opened a Utah office in 2000, but has been expanding rapidly after being offered multimillion-dollar tax-break deals with the state in 2007 and 2009.

With incentive packages offered in both years, Goldman is set to receive as much as a $47.3 million break over a 20-year period in the form of a tax rebate, according to Michael Sullivan, a spokesman for the Governor’s Office of Economic Development.

"They’ve begun using that incentive. It’s [granted] post-performance. They make the moves. They hire employees. They pay a corporate payroll and sales taxes," Sullivan said. "It’s proportional to what they invest. The credit is issued every year that they earn it."

In exchange for the incentive, the bank agreed to maintain at least 1,065 employees in Salt Lake City and pay them at least 150 percent of the average local county wage. Many of the new jobs will be assigned to Goldman’s investment management business and back-office functions such as accounting, Wells said.

The average Salt Lake County salary is about $65,000 a year, though the state says Goldman pays local employees $80,000 a year, on average. That figure is still a fraction of the $432,001 annual salary the average Goldman worker brought home across its entire operation since 2009. Still, if Goldman’s Utah employment rises to 1,600, its annual payroll will be about $128 million.

Salt Lake City is one of the few areas where Goldman has been expanding staff levels recently. Wells would not say whether the company has plans to add more employees in Utah.

"We don’t set targets," he said.

The bank cut 2,400 jobs in 2011 as volatile market conditions and new regulations crimped profits. But it has hired hundreds of employees in Utah, where it had about 700 workers before the tax agreements.

Goldman employs 33,300 people worldwide.

Reuters contributed to this story

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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