Utah economic development deal is fraught with conflict

Promoting debate: Business recruitment is privatized

Chris Roybal, adviser to Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr., supported handing over Utah’s business recruitment efforts to his former company. (Francisco Kjolseth/Tribune file photo)
When Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. fired 30 state business executives in January, the move was seen as brash and abrupt. But for anyone who has anything to do with the high-stakes game of economic development, it was hardly unexpected.

Six years ago, a private company supported by Utah’s top business leaders tried to gain more control over the competitive, lucrative and often secret realm of luring new businesses to Utah. And when Huntsman took office, he named the company’s former director, Chris Roybal, as his chief economic adviser.

Now the company, Economic Development Corporation of Utah (EDCU), is the only bidder – the only "qualified" bidder, according to Huntsman – to assume the duties of the fired workers.

By Lesley Mitchell and Rebecca Walsh The Salt Lake Tribune

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