A new podcast presented by the economic development office called “Forging the Norsatch” aims to highlight, inspire and bring together entrepreneurs in northern Utah.
The bimonthly podcast, created by Guy Letendre, economic development director at WSU, is hosted by Letendre and James Taylor, WSU’s director of sponsored projects and technology commercialization.
The podcast is part of a larger vision the two share to bring together ideas, resources and networking under one umbrella.
It’s not just for small businesses and startups, but also anyone who is working toward the future of communities in the area north of Salt Lake City, or “Norsatch,” as the cohosts have affectionately dubbed it.
“We want to inspire more entrepreneurs and see more of them get going,” Taylor said.
In his role at the university, Taylor helps with grants, contracts and other steps in the creation of a new business.
“I help faculty spin their ideas out into the commercial marketplace,” Taylor said.
Letendre has been with WSU since 2018, when the position of economic development director was created to facilitate the university’s expanding agenda of community support and outreach.
Before he stepped into that role two years ago, he spent most of his time in private industry, in operations and supply chain management for biotech and transportation companies, including Autoliv, Alexza Pharmaceuticals and Infinia Corporation.
Letendre is also responsible for the creation of the Wildcat Seed Fund, a venture fund made for WSU students who need help kickstarting their small business plan.
The podcast has featured interviews with local entrepreneurs, such as Javier Chavez Jr., born and raised in Ogden. Chavez has created Cerveza Zolupez Beer Co., which brews small-batch Mexican craft beer.
Sean Dehghani, of Santorini’s Greek Grill at Farmington Station, has also been featured. Dehghani is from Sandy, Utah, and opened his first restaurant before finishing high school, which became Mykonos at City Creek Mall in Salt Lake City.
Aside from business owners, the podcast also features business tips, such as how to validate your product and how to run social media for your business.
The state of Utah itself has recently seen unprecedented growth, which leads to endless possibilities for new business, according to Taylor.
“There is a lot of new energy coming into Utah now,” Taylor said.
The growth of the Hill Air Force Base has had a significant impact on the area’s expansion, especially in Layton, Clearfield, Riverdale and Roy. But among cities of the Norsatch, Letendre sees Ogden as one going through a rebirth.
Ogden has historically been a vital economic part of the larger region, before hitting a downturn during the early ’90s, when several banks and big businesses left town.
“Soon, we had a new mayor who wanted to attract tech companies to Ogden,” Letendre said.
The tech industry was beginning to spring up in the area now known as Silicon Slopes, south of Salt Lake City. Letendre added that the mayor couldn’t get business into Ogden until stumbling upon Amer Sports.
Amer Sports is a holding company that owns several sporting goods brands, such as Salomon, Peak Performance, Wilson and Precor. Ogden is now home to the company’s North American distribution center.
Later came a distribution center for Scott Sports, an international manufacturer of mountain bikes, motorsports gear and other equipment. Osprey backpacks set up a distribution center in Ogden as well.
“All of this created a buzz about Ogden,” Letendre said.
The city is becoming a focal point for new sporting ventures, which naturally complements the area’s skiing, hiking and mountain biking opportunities. From a business perspective, Ogden has found its new brand image.
The new episode, airing Nov. 3, will feature Envy Wheels founder Jason Schiers, who is advancing the carbon bike wheel industry. Listeners can find “Forging the Norsatch” on Facebook, the WSU website, Spotify and other podcast apps.