About UMA


The Utah Manufacturers Association (UMA) is a trade association that was founded in 1905 to represent the manufacturing industry in the state of Utah. Since then, the UMA has been vigilant in protecting the interests of the manufacturing industry. The interests of the manufacturing industry have included workforce, safety, employee development, local and national public policy, business development, and community outreach initiatives. Whatever the business interests may be, the UMA has always been a one-stop shop where industry leaders can come together to solve the relevant issues facing the industry. We fight for the manufacturing industry, because we know “what Utah makes, makes Utah,” for us all.

UMA’s legislative/regulatory agenda is set by the UMA Board of Directors after receiving input from committees and the general membership. By drawing on the in-house expertise of member companies throughout the state, the UMA can address the concerns of its diverse membership. The UMA develops and streamlines legislation and regulation in the following areas:

  • Economic Development
  • Education
  • Environment
  • Health Care
  • High Technology
  • Human Resources
  • Small Business
  • Taxation
  • Transportation
  • Unemployment Compensation
  • Workers Compensation
  • Workforce Services: Welfare/Job Training/Job Placement

The UMA serves as a liaison between Utah’s business community and the state legislature during each session and interim committee meetings; analyzing legislation, researching and preparing position papers, and testifying before legislative committees.

Industry-specific advocacy is just one of the many ways that the Utah Manufacturers Association works for you!

A History of the Utah Manufacturers Association


    Industrial Strength from Humble Beginnings

    When our founders entered the valley of the Great Salt Lake in 1847, they quickly set about the business of establishing the state. Farmers planted seeds in soil softened by irrigation water, and industrialists built modest, but efficient, manufacturing facilities such as a plant for making adobe brick, a grist mill, a sawmill, and a system for recovering salt from the Great Salt Lake.

    In October of that same year, 17-year-old Mary Jane Dilworth opened the first school in her tent.




    Sugar Beet Seeds

    In 1850, sugar beet seeds were brought to Utah, which created one of the state’s largest and most durable industries.


    In the next two years, settlers founded a dozen towns in the county. Because they lived so far from any other city, the settlers had to make the things they needed. They established industries to make everything from pottery to paper. Of course, they also experimented with growing all kinds of crops. The founding of the University of Deseret (Utah) in 1850 and the dedication of the Salt Lake Theatre in 1862 show the commitment of early settlers to education and culture. Printing and publishing began in 1850 and are still continuing now. Some goods manufactured in Salt Lake County today are pharmaceuticals, candy and other food products, computers, military guidance systems, and artificial organs.


    A Period of Expansion

    As Utah stepped into the 1860s, four explosive decades lay ahead.

    Manufacturing expanded rapidly to provide new construction materials such as stone, sand, gravel, clay and limestone. Farmers were shifting to the secure income provided by the growing list of manufacturing firms that were producing such things as clothing, fabrics and the related raw materials, newsprint, beer, candy and other food products, and an increasing variety of machinery and equipment.


    The completion of the transcontinental railroad provided the economic feasibility of developing Utah’s many mineral deposits, and that, in turn, brought about a boom in associated industries. Electricity and telephones entered the picture in the early 1880s and quickly became welcome servants to industry and the public.


    A New Wave of Manufacturing Growth

    Despite the period of Civil War, inflation during the early 1860s and the deep depression of the mid 1870s, Utah grew dramatically. The turn of the century brought a new wave of manufacturing growth to Utah as the automobile began to replace mule cars and horse-drawn vehicles, while electric trolley cars became the new mode of mass transit. Manufacturing grew to provide parts and equipment for the changing transportation scene, and electricity was paving the way for mass production technology, which began to provide volumes of high quality merchandise at affordable prices. Mass production demanded the construction of larger mills and plants, and the progress of manufacturing continued.



    Association Organization

    The Merchants and Manufacturers Association of Utah was organized in 1905 to help encourage and develop industrial growth in the Beehive State, and to help foster the dedication for outstanding quality established by the state’s founders in 1847. In 1905, only 8,000 people were engaged in manufacturing in the state, but the course of Utah’s future was already being well established.

    Through this period of increased activity, there was a need for unity within the industrial community, so the Merchants and Manufactures Association was organized in 1905. At that time, manufacturing employment in the state totaled 8,000 people. During World War I, Utah manufacturing rallied around the national war effort, while pausing in personal pursuits.


    Influenza Strikes

    The year 1918 was important because of the Great Pandemic and the airplanes that began to appear in Utah. Utah’s railroads helped the state’s growing industries.

    The first cases of influenza in Utah undoubtedly appeared in the military camp at Fort Douglas. Like many states with a large rural population, Utah did not provide a report to the Public Health Service in the early weeks of the pandemic. Quarantines were imposed. In Ogden City, no one was allowed in or out of the city without a note from a doctor. Elsewhere, church meetings, funerals, private parties and all public gatherings were cancelled or limited.


    In 1918, World War I American soldiers, stationed in military camps across the United States, were among the earliest victims of the pandemic. As the disease spread, military hospitals, both in the United States and abroad, quickly overflowed with influenza patients.


    The Great Depression

    The state was enjoying life to the fullest when the disastrous depression of 1929 struck. The nation was quickly humbled, and Utah was among the states hit hardest. That claim surprises many people, who assume, for various reasons, that it was spared the worst, but a few statistics showcase that point. For example, in 1933 Utah’s unemployment rate was 35.8 percent, the fourth highest in the nation.


    However, the manufacturing industry was determined to bring us back by continuing to manufacture and provide as many jobs as economically feasible. The Depression years also saw an invigoration of Utah’s labor movement, beginning in 1933 when coal miners, after a thirty year effort, were finally unionized. Success in the coal fields stimulated efforts in other areas, and by 1937 union membership in Utah had multiplied by six.


    World War II

    By 1940, there were 17,900 men and women engaged in Utah’s manufacturing operations, and that number swelled as the nation was plunged into World War II and the state’s industries were again called on to answer the needs of national defense. Those needs were met through increased production of essential metals, war equipment, and even parachutes as Utah’s silk industry in southern Utah was given new life. Manufacturing facilities were being established in converted buildings and in new massive plants such as a steel mill on the shores of Utah Lake. Beginning with the V-J Day celebration, Utah took a deep breath as it moved into postwar prosperity with four basic industries: forestry, agriculture, mining and manufacturing, which set the pace of growth.



    Manufacturing Boom

    By 1956, manufacturing employment had grown to 35,300 Utahns in such industries as production, meat packing, canning, frozen foods, dairy products, milling, apparel, printing, publishing, chemicals, paints, tools and rubber making. Utah stepped into what could be called the “Sophisticated Sixties,” a time of space-age technology and a wide range of sophisticated industries in electronics, chemicals, aerospace and computers. Utah was fast becoming an ideal place in which to locate manufacturing facilities, thanks in great part to promotional and legislative activities of the Utah Manufacturers Association.



    The Space Age

    By 1963, manufacturing employment had climbed to 54,700, as new companies were being formed in the state; new industry was coming to Utah, and older, established Utah firms were expanding and modernizing facilities.

    On May 5, 1961, Mercury Astronaut Alan B. Shepard, Jr., blasted off in his Freedom 7 capsule atop a Mercury-Redstone rocket. His 15-minute suborbital flight made him the first American in space.


    Fast forwarding to today, the manufacturers of the Beehive State make up the largest industry in Utah, totaling nearly $23 billion of annual gross state product. They employ around 115,000 individuals and create an additional 300,000 related jobs in the state. Manufacturers have always been united, fighting through the perilous times of this country’s history, and always coming out on top. The success of today is due to those, who for over a century, have established an environment in this state that is pro-business, pro-manufacturing, and Utah proud.


    A New Commonwealth Economy

    During the late 1970s, a new commonwealth economy emerged from the essentially colonial economy of the 1950s and 1960s as Utah entrepreneurs generated much of the state’s growth internally. By the late 1980s, Utah had developed a postindustrial and postcolonial economy that others might have envied.




    New Heights Along the Skylines

    In the year of UMA’s Diamond Jubilee Anniversary, employment reached 93,300 men and women working in more than 1,600 plants. Manufacturing in Utah was once again expanding into an enviable industry. Approximately $250 million were being invested in manufacturing plants and equipment. The jobs in this sector were growing about six percent annually in Utah. The state was increasing its manufacturing jobs at a much faster rate than the nation as a whole.


    The Growth Years

    As the age of the internet dawned, UMA created a worldwide website to provide members with timely updates on critical legislative issues.

    There was also increasing diversity during this decade. Therefore, the UMA Board of Directors saw fit to approve the “Guiding Principles for Supporting Legislation” on December 9, 1997 to better represent its diverse membership. Since its early years, the renowned lobbying organization has worked on a wide array of legislative proposals on behalf of a very diverse membership.

    Manufacturers have experienced tremendous growth over the past few decades, making them “leaner” and helping them to become more competitive globally. Output per hour for all workers in the manufacturing sector has increased by more than 2.5 times since 1987.


    Becoming the Backbone of the Economy

    Despite the economy descending into the worst crisis since the Great Depression, the manufacturing industry held strong. Though Utah was in no way exempt to the effects of the recession, manufacturing still managed to grow into a vital industry. Flash forward to today and you’ll see that manufacturing comprises 11 percent of all state employment and 14.2 percent of the State’s payroll. For every $1.00 spent in manufacturing, another $1.40 is added to the economy. That is the highest multiplier effect of any economic sector.


    Medical Manufacturing

    Of course, the 2000s weren’t all doom and gloom. This decade also saw an incredible expansion of medical research and resources, and with it, an expansion of medical manufacturing. Seventy percent of arterial and vascular access devices used throughout the world are manufactured in Utah. The chemicals used in chemotherapy depend on coal. Even everyday painkillers could not be made without mining and manufacturing. We often don’t realize the influence manufacturing has on our lives.

    Somewhat related to that idea, manufacturers also have one of the highest percentages of workers who are eligible for health benefits provided by their employer. In fact, 92 percent of manufacturing employees were eligible for health insurance benefits in 2015, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. This is significantly higher than the 79 percent average for all firms.


    The Rise in Technology and Global Expansion

    Similar to the exciting technological advances in the 1920s, there was once again an exciting time of invention and innovation in the 2010s. Smart phones, computers, tablets, laptops, Xboxes, smart watches — all became easily accessible and necessary during this decade. Once again, manufacturing expanded. You probably don’t think a great deal about the copper, silver, and silicone that go into your electronics, but rest assured, Utah manufacturers are building electronic goods from all these materials.

    Accompanying the rise in technology, there was also a rise in global trade. World trade in manufactured goods more than doubled between 2000 and 2013 — from $4.8 trillion to $12.2 trillion. Foreign direct investment more than exceeded $1 trillion for the first time ever in 2014. Between 2005 and 2014, foreign direct investment has also more than doubled, up from $499.9 billion in 2005 to $1,045.5 billion in 2014.

    U.S. affiliates of foreign multinational enterprises employ more than 2 million manufacturing workers in the U.S., which is one-sixth of total employment in the sector.


    The Made in Utah Initiative

    In 2014, the average worker earned $64,204 annually, but the average manufacturing worker earned $79,553 annually, including pay and benefits.

    Over the past 25 years, exports of U.S. manufactured goods more than quadrupled. In 1990, for example, manufacturers in the U.S. exported $329.5 billion in goods. By 2000, that number had more than doubled to $708 billion. In 2014, it reached an all-time high, for the fifth consecutive year, of $1.4 trillion.

    As we can clearly see, the Utah Manufacturer’s Association has been promoting locally manufactured products for over 110 years.  This initiative’s objective is to promote the purchases of locally made products, educate the community about the economic impact manufacturing has in the state, and bring a more personal connection to the industry of manufacturing.  Because, as the history of manufacturing proves again and again, “What Utah makes, makes Utah.”