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Wall Street West: How Salt Lake City became Goldman Sachs’ 4th largest global office
Finance » Bank’s Utah workforce has grown “exponentially” to 1,775.


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Some of that disdain was on display in Salt Lake City. Late in 2011, dozens of protesters and onlookers gathered on the sidewalk outside the Main Street building for a street-theater performance that chided Goldman for its "sins of manipulating the market during the dot-com bubble." The event was part of a nationwide series of rallies organized by Occupy Wall Street.

"What you read in the newspaper is that they are a titan, they have a lot of money, and they pay large bonuses and they get what they want. That’s not the Goldman that we know in Utah," said Spencer Eccles, GOED’s executive director.

At a glance

Goldman Sachs in Salt Lake City

» The company has been here since 2000. Significant growth began in 2008.

» 1,775 employees today, almost 6 percent of its global workforce of 30,000.

» Nine of 11 divisions are here: finance, compliance, global investment research, human capital management, investment banking, investment management, operations, services, technology.

» Second-largest U.S. location; No. 4 in the world.

» In May, Goldman held its first annual shareholders meeting at its downtown Salt Lake City office. It was first annual meeting outside New York since Goldman became a public company in 1999.

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Goldman isn’t blind to its critics. In May, at its annual meeting in Salt Lake City — its first-ever outside New York — the firm released a report detailing actions it has taken to improve its business practices after a series of embarrassing blunders that stained its reputation in the aftermath of the financial crisis. CEO Blankfein announced publication of the report, which makes more than three dozen recommendations for change, covering client service, financial products it sells and employee incentives. The changes were implemented in February.

Colleges and community » But for many Utahns, Goldman is nothing but good. The U. places about 25 graduates and 40 interns a year at Goldman. BYU’s business school has provided 77 graduates to Goldman in the past three years, and 216 former students list the firm as their current employer, according to the university’s LinkedIn page. Kim Smith, a BYU finance professor who worked at Goldman for 28 years, said the firm hires students from every college and department across the university — not just the business school — because it likes the product.

"I know BYU best, and I know BYU students now are much better than they would have been 20 years ago," Smith said. "Goldman Sachs has always been willing to go wherever it can to find talented, quality people. The fact that they’ve come here means that’s what they’ve found."

Through the years, the company has become part of the city’s fabric. By some estimates, Goldman employees serve on the boards of more than 20 local nonprofits. Lang said many employees live and shop within walking distance of the downtown office. And with the firm planning more growth, there may be a Goldman campus downtown in a couple of years that includes a yet-to-be-constructed building, he said.

In May, 33 Utah small-business owners were the first class to graduate from Goldman Sachs’ 10,000 Small Businesses program, an educational initiative that aims to create jobs and spur growth in the state and elsewhere in the U.S. Many of the graduates said the training had already allowed them to hire more workers.

In June, Goldman loaned $4.6 million to United Way of Salt Lake, which oversees the Utah High Quality Preschool Program. The loan, which Goldman calls a "social impact bond," will support preschool programs that prepare 3- and 4-year-olds in the Granite and Park City school districts for kindergarten. The firm is betting that the program will reduce the need for remedial-education programs later on, and the savings will be enough to repay the loan.

"They are investing in Utah because they believe in Utah," GOED’s Eccles said. "That gets everybody’s attention, whether they are tourists or whether they are businesses. And that’s a great thing for Salt Lake and for Utah."


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pbeebe@sltrib.com

Twitter: @sltribpaul



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