By Brice Wallace 

A company that whisks skiers to mountaintops will get a financial lift from the state as it expands its operations.

Leitner-Poma of America Inc. (LPOA) and its affiliates will add 118 jobs over the next decade as it increases its manufacturing capabilities. Part of the High Technology Industries (HTI) Group, the company specializes in cable transport systems, including surface lifts, chairlifts, gondolas, MiniMetro urban transport, trams, inclined elevators and industrial trams. Its current factory is in Grand Junction, Colorado, where its North American operations are based.

“We look at Salt Lake City and this area as just having a much more stable and progressive workforce. We’re excited to move here,” Daren Cole, LPOA president, told the Governor’s Office of Economic Opportunity (Go Utah) board after the board approved an incentive for HTI.

Cole said LPOA was looking for 10-12 acres and 100,000 square feet under roof in order to double its production capabilities in North America. At the time the incentive was awarded, the company was considering several locations in Salt Lake, Davis and Weber counties for the $30 million project.

“We look forward to getting set up as quickly as we can,” he said. “We cannot build our factory fast enough to deal with the growing market.”

The expansion will feature a campus that will house several of its brands to provide clients with manufacturing, service, parts and sales/administration functions. The company’s Skytrac aerial ropeway manufacturing site is leased near the Salt Lake City International Airport.

“We really need more space,” Cole said. “Our market within North America is just exploding right now, and we’re just seeing substantial growth.”

The Go Utah board approved a tax credit of up to $2 million for the project. New total wages are projected to be $79.4 million over 10 years and new state tax revenue is estimated at nearly $13.6 million over that time. The new jobs are expected to pay an average of $110,805.

As an example of growth in the industry, Cole noted that Vail Resorts has announced $2.2 billion in on-mountain infrastructure improvements over the next 10 years. In Utah, Snowbasin, Wasatch Peaks Ranch, Mayflower and Alta have added lifts in recent years or plan to do so, he said.

“The growth is exponential out there right now and we need this facility to keep up with that,” Cole said. “The market is just booming, not only nationwide but here in Utah. The growth alone is just phenomenal.”

Growth also is likely in what the company calls the “urban marketplace.” About a dozen proposed systems in the U.S. would feature people-movers in urban areas. An example is a concept to serve the Little Cottonwood Canyon with a gondola system, an option competing with an expansion of the roadway up the canyon.

HTI has installed aerial and surface systems throughout the world. Its network includes more than 10,000 transportation systems in 61 countries, moving 8 million passengers each hour. It also manufactures tracked vehicles and snow making systems used primarily in the ski industry.

“We’re excited Leitner-Poma has decided to come grow with us in Utah,” Dan Hemmert, Go Utah’s executive director, said in a prepared statement. “Utah’s 15 world-class ski resorts make it an ideal location for Leitner-Poma’s corporate expansion.”

“We’re excited that a global company like Leitner-Poma is bringing the manufacturing and distribution of chairlifts and other transportation systems to the home of ‘The Greatest Snow on Earth,’” said Theresa A. Foxley, president and CEO of the Economic Development Corporation of Utah. “Like other companies in our outdoor products industry, they will find our state to have committed and talented workers.”

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