Once known as the sand dunes of Orem, where Gov. Gary Herbert says he used to catch lizards, now stands Utah Valley University's Business Resource Center, a one-stop-shopping experience for entrepreneurs and business development in Utah County.
On Friday, Utah Valley University President Matthew Holland gathered business, political and academic leaders to cut the ribbon and open the 24,842-square-foot facility. The remodeled building once housed the Saturn of Orem dealership.
"Engaging with the business community was a top priority for me as I came to the university," Holland said. "This building is a great single accomplishment. It is part of something larger and more robust for this community."
The center will serve entrepreneurs and businesses in Utah, Summit and Wasatch counties. It will offer a variety of services that capitalize on the center's access to the numerous resources, programs and activities provided by UVU faculty, staff and students. As a business incubator, the center will spur Utah's economic and business development by helping to create new enterprises, grow existing companies and produce new jobs.
"This is a Wolverine green ribbon day," Herbert said. "The Business Resource Center is going to help create jobs. It will be a place to educate students for those jobs. It raises all the boats in the pond. This is a collaborative effort for where we need to be tomorrow."
Orem Mayor Jim Evans says his No. 1 priority is economic development. That means to not only bring in new businesses, but to help ones already here remain vibrant and grow. The new resource center will play an important part in that growth.
"This is at a grassroots level. We are stronger with the resources at the university. This adds an element we didn't have," Evans said. He added this not only helps local business, but students and faculty who could become involved in local business.
Dixon Holmes, director of economic development in Provo, said, "This is another one of the business resources in our community that adds to the continuum of business assistance. This is good for the entire valley."
According to Holland, the Business Resource Center is a key component in the school's economic development strategy that will help grow the community, region and state economy while complementing initiatives laid out by the governor's office.
The center hosts the Commission for Economic Development of Orem, Economic Development Corporation of Utah, Manufacturing Extension Partnership of Utah, Procurement Technical Assistance Center of Utah, Small Business Development Center, Technology Commercialization Office and Utah Science Technology and Research initiative.
The BRC will cover a number of economic development areas, including small business development, technology commercialization, science and technology, manufacturing extension, procurement and technical assistance and general economic development.
At a time when the need for economic development is at a premium, the BRC will marshal the community's and the university's considerable resources in terms of faculty, staff, students and entrepreneurs while providing greater engaged learning opportunities for students, Holland added.
Fraser Bullock, co-chair for UVU Business Engagement Strategy, acknowledged the time commitment and energy that went into bringing all of these resources together under one roof.
"It's amazing how fast this has happened," Bullock said. "I am absolutely thrilled with this institution and the students of UVU."