Utah submits Amazon HQ2 bid amid community concerns

SALT LAKE CITY A little more than a month after an announcement that created a fury of interest and a flurry of activity among cities, states and provinces across North America, Utah has officially submitted its proposal to host Amazon’s HQ2 ahead of Thursday’s deadline.

And state leaders are hoping they’re about to score the biggest corporate recruitment coup of all time.

At stake: $5 billion in capital investment, up to 50,000 jobs, and perhaps most valuable of all, the global cache that is likely to come with a choice that has taken on the feel of an annointment more than a business location decision.

And while Amazon provided a detailed list of requisites for its secondary headquarters including a minimum population of 1 million, nearby international airport, on-site public transit access, a community with an “overall high-quality of life” it seems the line item most noted by potential applicants has been the incentive clause in the request for proposals posting:

“Incentives offered by the state/province and local communities to offset initial capital outlay and ongoing operational costs will be significant factors in the decision-making process,” it reads.

How high those “significant factors” are going to go was illustrated Monday when New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie released a statement indicating his team could amass $7 billion in state and local tax credits to bring the online retail giant to Newark.

On the flip side of the Garden State’s enormous lure, more than 80 community groups from 21 states detailed their own list of requirements in an open letter to Amazon published Monday. The document asks Amazon to embrace a stance of engaged corporate citizenship and recognize the impacts its new secondary headquarters will bring to whichever city is chosen to host it.

The signatories ask for job/employment fairness; a regular contribution in support of local, affordable housing; a commitment to an open process of development plans once a site is chosen; and no tax incentives as a way to mitigate the widespread impacts of the new facility.

“The things about our cities that make you want to move here are the same reasons many of us live here. We have great systems of higher education, museums and infrastructure that helps move people and things from one place to another,” the letter states.

“But we got that stuff by collectively paying for it, through taxes, and we’re expecting Amazon to pay …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Business News

Utah’s VidAngel files for bankruptcy, pausing court fight

SALT LAKE CITY A Provo-based company allowing users to filter nudity, profanity and violence out of movies and TV shows has filed for bankruptcy, putting the brakes on a legal fight with movie studios in federal court.

VidAngel CEO Neal Harmon announced the filing in a Wednesday news release, saying it gives the company breathing room to focus on its new platform, which is in large part geared at streaming, as opposed to the previous version, which focused on discs and led to a federal lawsuit in California from several studios.

The Utah company has argued the 2005 Family Home Movie Act allows for its method of filtering and streaming content to its customers. But the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed in August, rejecting VidAngel’s appeal against Disney, Warner Brothers, 20th Century Fox and LucasFilm.

Now, Harmon’s company is seeking a new court order in Utah stipulating that its new service is legal. In September, it sued several studios in Salt Lake City’s U.S. District Court.

VidAngel launched its streaming service-based filtering approach in June, which offers filtering of movies from licensed streaming services, plus an additional method designed to filter disc movies without using unlawful decryption.

Harmon said in a statement his company would continue offering its filtering service, that it is hiring engineers, and that it has launched its own original series called “Dry Bar Comedy.”

…read more

Source:: Deseret News – Business News

Young professionals from Baltics, Hungary tour Salt Lake

SALT LAKE CITY Nearly two dozen young professionals from the Baltic states and Hungary toured Salt Lake City on Wednesday as part of an international internship program.

The group visited the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute at the University of Utah, as well as studios of KSL-TV, KSL NewsRadio, FM100.3, 103.5 The Arrow and Studio 5 in downtown Salt Lake.

For Anna Udre, the trip to the broadcast station was especially unique, as she worked as a journalist in her home country, Latvia.

“Everything in Latvia is smaller,” she said. “Every time I go to any media (station) here in the U.S., there’s a lot of excitement.”

She and 22 other top university graduates are working as interns in the United States on scholarships sponsored by the Baltic-American Freedom Foundation and the Hungarian-American Enterprise Scholarship Fund. The scholarship is open for research scholars, high school students and recent college graduates who want to get professional experience in the United States.

The professional scholarship program places each participant in prominent internships in cities across the country, lasting anywhere from six months to a year.

The purpose of the scholarship service is to strengthen ties between these countries and the U.S., said Kelly Francis, program specialist at the Council on International Educational Exchange, a nonprofit that promotes international education and exchange.

“When these young professionals go back to their own countries, they’re expected to grow their economies and contribute what they’ve learned here in the U.S. in their home country,” she added.

The scholarship program accepts applicants in a wide variety of fields, from engineering to finance majors. Applicants go through a rigorous selection process, including interviews and visa requirements, Francis explained.

As well as gaining professional training, the scholarship participants also attend an enrichment trip once a year. The group travels to a selected city to experience the culture in the area, as well as network with professionals in various fields.

“This is a really interesting experience because this city is very unique,” Udre said. “There are a lot of mountains around, and you don’t see a lot of people on the streets. That’s kind of different.”

Other enrichment trips have taken participants to Las Vegas, New York, San Francisco and New Orleans.

…read more

Source:: Deseret News – Business News