BLACKFOOT — Premier Technology in Blackfoot held a groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday for its new 70,000-square-foot, $15 million facility expansion.
Speakers at the ceremony included Doug and Shelly Sayer, the chief business officer and chief executive officer for the company, respectively, as well as Blackfoot Mayor Marc Carroll, Bingham County Commissioner Mark Bair, and Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter.
During his speech, Otter signed an executive order establishing a policy for nuclear energy production and manufacturing in Idaho. The executive order highlights students as the foundation of the nuclear energy business.
“Every element of our education effort is going to try to keep up with the workforce demands of Premier Technology and all other high-tech companies that are moving in that direction,” Otter said.
Jay Larsen, head of the Idaho Technology Council, said Otter was right to put an emphasis on education, particularly in light of this expansion.
“When you build (a company like this), you have to build the workforce behind it,” Larsen said.
Premier Technology is working closely with the state’s community colleges and universities to meet the company’s educational demands.
“Idaho desperately needs a trained workforce,” College of Eastern Idaho President Rick Aman said. “This isn’t necessarily a bachelor’s, master’s or Ph.D. The real heavy lifting in this is that two-year associate (degree) or even a one- or two-week training in a particular realm.”
Doug Sayer said the 100 to 150 people the company will hire as a result of the expansion will come from an assortment of fields. According to Sayer, the company won’t just hire welders, craftsmen, engineers and designers, but also project managers and financial specialists, among others.
Bair said he believes the expansion also will result in a number of indirect jobs in construction, real estate and retail to accommodate Premier Technology’s new employees.
He also said he hopes the company’s growth will open doors for other companies.
“Premier’s success shouts to the world that Bingham County, Idaho, is the place to start a business and have that business prosper,” Bair said. “Bingham County has always been an agriculture county. I hope that this opens the technology door for other high-tech companies to come in here.”
And the importance of a growth in technology-related jobs, Bair said, is the income growth that would accompany it.
According to Bair, the average salary in Blackfoot is a little more than $38,000. The average salary for employees of Premier Technology is more than $50,000.
“What Premier Technology has brought is not just technology but higher-paying jobs,” Bair said. “So this is big.”
Sayer said the expansion, which will quadruple capacity, is a result of an increased number of contracts and customers. He said he believes the company will continue to grow and expand over the years as more clients and contracts are secured.
Premier Technology is a finalist for a new small modular reactor manufacturing site, which if secured would provide the company with small modular reactor contracts from around the country.
“In 1997, when we founded the company, we rented a small shop over on Garrett Way (in Pocatello), and it was 5,000 square feet,” Sayer said. “We had half a dozen employees. So we’ll continue to grow.”