BLACKFOOT — Premier Technology in Blackfoot held a groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday morning 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 Marc Carroll, the mayor of Blackfoot; Mark Bair, the Bingham County Commissioner; and Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter.
During his speech, Otter signed an executive order establishing a policy for nuclear energy production and manufacturing in Idaho. In the executive order, it 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 new 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,” said Dr. Rick Aman, president of the College of Eastern Idaho in Idaho Falls. “This isn’t necessarily a bachelor’s, master’s or Ph.D. The real heavy lifting in this is that two-year associate’s or even a one- or two-week training in a particular realm.”
However, Doug Sayer said the 100 to 150 people they will hire as a result of the expansion will come from an assortment of fields. According to Sayer, the company will hire not just welders, craftsmen, engineers and designers, but also project managers and financers, among others.
Bair said he believes the expansion will also result in a number of indirect jobs in construction, real estate and retail to account for the new employees of Premier Technology.
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 it would bring.
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.”
The expansion, Sayer said, is a result of an increased number of contracts and customers and will quadruple capacity. But what he was “most excited” about was the investment in automated equipment. According to Sayer, about $10 million of the $15 million expansion will be invested in the new equipment.
Sayer said he believes the company will continue to grow and expand over the years as more clients and contracts are secured.
Premier Technology is currently 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, and it was 5,000 square feet,” Sayer said. “We had half a dozen employees. So we’ll continue to grow.”