Despite controversy, state lands Swiss rail company

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SALT LAKE CITY — A Swiss train manufacturing company will open a temporary facility in Utah, after being granted $10 million in economic incentives by the state.

At a board meeting on Thursday, members of theĀ Governor’s Office of Economic Development voted unanimously to provide incentives to Stadler Rail for a facility to be located in Salt Lake or Tooele counties. The vote was met with applause in the room.

“It’s obviously a very important step for Stadler Rail,” Martin Ridder, the CEO of Stadler U.S., told the board.

The post-performance incentives are part of a larger plan to lure the European company, which manufactures rail vehicles, to build a permanent site here. If the company chooses Utah, GOED believes it would create 1,000 new jobs and contribute more than $40 million to the state’s economy over 15 years.

The Swiss flag on display at a board meeting for the Governor's Office of Economic Development on Dec. 10, 2015.

The Swiss flag on display at a board meeting for the Governor’s Office of Economic Development on Dec. 10, 2015.

“They are just exceptional at what they do,” said Val Hale, GOED’s executive director. “To have them consider coming to Utah is really a coup.”

The state has been trying for months to persuade Stadler Rail to come to Utah, which has been the subject of some controversy. Lawmakers have taken trips to Switzerland, as have board members from the Utah Transit Authority.

UTA canceled a competitive bid when it learned two of its board members met with Stadler Rail and didn’t disclose it. The transit authority has launched its own investigation and its board recently passed new ethics guidelines.

One of the board members who took the trip has resigned, but has said it is for unrelated reasons.

Hale said GOED’s incentives to Stadler Rail had nothing to do with the UTA controversy.

“It made us nervous to have all the headlines,” Hale told FOX 13. “Fortunately, the company moved ahead and they’re looking at Utah and hopefully, this will be a long-term stay in our state.”