Genetics services company Ancestry has long been part of Utah’s corporate DNA, and state officials last week approved an incentive for the company to keep it that way.
The Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) board, at its April meeting, approved a tax credit incentive of up to nearly $2.5 million to retain the Lehi-based company’s 1,000 existing employees in Utah and help the company grow by up to 506 jobs in Lehi over the next nine years.
Founded in 1983 in Provo as Infobase, Ancestry provides family history and consumer genetics services. It has more than 3 million subscribers across its core Ancestry websites, which feature a collection of over 10 billion digitized historical records and nearly 15 million participants in the AncestryDNA database. Since 1996, users have created over 100 million family trees and 12 billion ancestor profiles on the Ancestry flagship site and its affiliated international websites.
“Ancestry is Utah’s iconic company, certainly the company that people know about. They know what Ancestry is, what they do and where they’re located,” said Mel Lavitt, chairman of the GOED board’s incentives committee. “Over the last few years, there’s been a migration of senior talent to San Francisco and … we’re hopeful that this incentive helps to reverse that trend.”
Howard Hochhauser, chief financial officer and chief operating officer at Ancestry, acknowledged that executive migration and said having the project in Utah could help the company grow and perhaps result in that migration returning to Utah.
GOED documents indicate the company had been considering Utah and San Francisco for the expansion project. The company also has offices in Salt Lake City, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Australia, Germany and Sweden. Of its 1,600 employees worldwide, more than 1,000 are in Utah and about 400 are in San Francisco.
“For a number of reasons, we feel like this is a good fit for the state of Utah,” Thomas Wadsworth, GOED associate managing director, said before the incentive approval. “They do have operations in California. We feel like this is a great opportunity to make sure that as much growth as possible can end up here in Utah and continue to be a benefit to our state.”
The $10.5 million project is expected to result in about $12.2 million in new state tax revenue and new total wages of nearly $317 million over nine years. The jobs will pay an average of $98,000 per year.
“There’s a lot yet to come,” Hochhauser said of the company. “There’s a lot of international growth to come and … we’re launching other products this year in the health space around our DNA product, so while we’ve grown — we’re north of a billion dollars — we hope that over the next 10 to 20 years to be a multiple of that.”