The far west side of Salt Lake City soon will be home to a railcar manufacturing facility that could employ 1,000 Utahns.
Government and company officials broke ground Friday at 150 S. 5600 West for a $50 million facility where Stadler USA will build and assemble train vehicles for transit authorities around the country.
“We are more than thrilled to welcome, permanently, Stadler to Salt Lake City,” said Mayor Jackie Biskupski. “To have a company with a global footprint call the northwest quadrant home solidifies the city has a premier, strategic location for any company focused in logistics, manufacturing, and distribution.”
Stadler, whose parent company in Switzerland has been building trains for 75 years, is leasing the property from the Utah Transit Authority.
It earlier had done this work on a much smaller scale at UTA properties off Beck Street on Salt Lake City’s north end, employing 115 workers.
The company used UTA’s Warm Springs plant on a temporary basis while searching the West for a permanent site for its manufacturing plant. Its operations there were funded in part through a $10 million incentive offered in December 2015 by the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, which aimed to get Stadler to pick Utah.
“The skilled, educated and dedicated workforce along the Wasatch Front, combined with high quality of life, convinced us to stay and establish our permanent headquarters in Utah,” said Stadler CEO Martin Ritter, adding he looked forward to “decades of great partnerships.”
City Economic Development Director Lara Fritts cited the site’s “proximity to two major highway interstates, an international airport and [its] intersection with the Union Pacific Railroad Intermodal hub.”
Phase one begins early next year with the installation of utilities and the construction of access roads and a manufacturing plant with an office building. Over the next decade, the plant can expand in modular sections “to match the needs of future client orders,” said a news release from Salt Lake City.
Stadler expects to employ 1,000 people directly within a year, with hundreds of additional jobs created indirectly to supply goods and services to the facility, the release said.
When GOED announced its 15-year tax incentive in 2015, the 1,000 jobs anticipated in the agreement were projected to generate nearly $576 million in wages. An additional $40 million in state tax revenues also was expected.
The Stadler-UTA connection has been a source of controversy.
Several UTA board members, including former legislator Sheldon Killpack, resigned after criticism for taking an expensive trip to Switzerland in September 2015, visiting Stadler officials along the way.
The trip, led and organized by House Speaker Greg Hughes, a former UTA chairman, was not approved by the UTA board. It was partially funded by a political action committee, which included donations from companies with contracting with UTA.
The contact made during the trip forced UTA to scuttle a bid process in which Stadler and competitors were seeking to lease part of the transit agency’s Warm Springs maintenance facility. Stadler eventually got the lease.