Disney to boost games division


The Walt Disney Co. is launching a major expansion of its Utah video game development business and expects to hire as many as 500 new employees over the next 10 years.
The well-known entertainment conglomerate operates Utah’s Avalanche Software and Fall Line Studios under its Disney Interactive Studios unit. It is now out to expand those businesses, which employ about 140 Utahns, to gain a stronger share of the $47 billion a year video games market.
“We are really pleased with our operations in Utah and are committed to staying in the state for the long run,” said Angela E. Emery, vice president of communications for Disney Interactive Studios.
Disney Interactive acquired the Utah-grown Avalanche Software in 2005. Since that acquisition it has produced Disney game titles such as “Chicken Little,” “Meet the Robinsons” and “Hanna Montana.”
Fall Line studios was created as a sister studio to Avalanche in 2006 to focus on developing video games for the increasingly popular Nintendo Wii console and the DS hand-held gaming platforms, Emery said.
To help soften the expense of Disney’s Utah growth, the Business Development Board of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development on Friday approved a 10-year incentive package, worth a maximum $5.25 million, that will rebate up to 30 percent of the new state tax revenue generated by the expansion.

The incentive package will be awarded only after the company meets employment goals.
The economic develop- ment board estimated the new tax revenue that will flow to the state as the result of Disney’s expansion will exceed $15 million over the next decade.
“This is an expansion that we’re pretty excited about,” board member Jerry Oldroyd said, noting that Disney’s plans fit well with the state’s efforts to expand Utah’s presence in the video gaming industry. Oldroyd said the jobs that will be created will pay on average about $75,000 a year.
In other business, the economic development board voted to establish an economic development zone for the Goldman Sachs expansion project at 295 Chipeta Way in Salt Lake City. The establishment of that zone was a prerequisite for the awarding of a $20 million incentive package to the company.
In November, the economic development board offered an incentive worth as much as $20 million to encourage the financial services firm to hire up to 375 more employees in the Salt Lake City area at an average wage of more than $75,000 annually.
The incentive would take the form of a rebate of Utah taxes payable over 20 years


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