Ogden has received a $1 million grant from the U.S. Economic Development Association to launch a mobile applications lab in the heart of the northern Utah city's downtown revival.
Acting Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Matt Erskine announced the grant Thursday, saying the U.S. is experiencing an explosion in the use of mobile devices, along with a growing demand for new applications to run on them.
The grant process was highly competitive, Erskine said in an afternoon phone interview.
"We believe this is the first EDA investment and initiative around a project associated with mobile apps specifically," he said, adding that his agency's mission is to support local economic development strategies and "to shine a light on the best ideas out there."
Several partners the city of Ogden, the Weber State University Research Foundation and various private-sector industry leaders teamed together to launch the new mobile apps initiative that will occupy space in a vacant building at 2314 Washington Blvd.
The three-story, 18,000-square-foot structure will house a Weber State University bookstore on the bottom floor, with the mobile app lab and technology incubator on upper levels, said Ogden Mayor Mike Caldwell.
"We've wanted to bring some of Weber State downtown and this is a great starting point," Caldwell said. "Our goal is to have this lab create 750 jobs and generate $4.5 million in private investment over the next 10-year period."
Alex Lawrence, executive director of the Weber State University Research Foundation, said the federal award was a culmination of many months of concerted effort.
People will be able to register for WSU classes and buy event tickets in the downtown bookstore, Lawrence said, while mobile apps are generated upstairs. Cutting-edge technology classes will also be offered in that space.
"This is the beginning of a closer partnership between the city and the university," Lawrence said. "Ultimately for it to be successful, the community has to step up and support it.
Lawrence predicts that the new technology hub will "magnify a tech-startup community that currently exists in a mild form in downtown Ogden."
The building should open for business by mid-November, Lawrence said.