Utah. Really? Isn’t that one of those flyover states?
Not anymore. Utah has put itself on the map as an economic powerhouse, a premier business destination and an incredible place to live, work and play.
Since the recession, and year after year, Utah’s economic outlook has received top billing from national thought leaders. In October, Forbes magazine ranked Utah the No. 1 Best State for Business and Careers—for the fifth time in six years. (In 2013, Utah ranked No. 3, but nobody’s perfect.) Just weeks later, Pollina Corporate Real Estate and the American Economic Development Institute (AEDI) named Utah the No. 1 Pro-Business State for the fourth year in a row.
These accolades rest on a strong foundation. For example, Utah’s five percent corporate tax rate hasn’t changed in nearly twenty years. Electric power and natural gas rates are among the lowest in the nation. National scorecards recognize Utah for offering quality healthcare at the lowest cost. Combine these assets with a growing workforce, accessible infrastructure and a dynamic economy, and you’ll understand what all the buzz is about.
Photo Caption: Global shipping from a landlocked state? OOCL favored Utah’s infrastructure and business community when choosing the location of its North America integrated management and service center. Credit: OOCL
Boots on the Ground: Workforce Readiness
An expanding, high-quality workforce is critical to Utah’s economic success. The state’s population is growing at a rate of 1.6 percent, in contrast with the national rate of 0.07 percent. Utah welcomed its three-millionth resident in October, and the population is expected to double by 2060.
This means good things for the workforce pipeline. Utah’s growing population is young and educated. As of 2014, Utah’s median age was 30.2, the country’s youngest. And government, education and private sector leaders are working together in unprecedented partnerships to align education with industry workforce needs.
One example of such collaboration is Utah Aerospace Pathways Project, launched in September. This initiative allows high school students to receive their manufacturing certificate while in high school, allowing them to enter the workforce immediately upon graduation. This model will also be applied to provide further training to adult workers to deliver workforce solutions now.
We Built It. They Came.
Whether your team needs drop-of-the-hat access to international flights, or your supply chain needs fast and reliable distribution, Utah’s infrastructure makes the state an ideal business location. Salt Lake City International Airport, Delta’s western hub, offers 625 daily flights serving more than twenty million people each year. According to the aviation intelligence group OAG, Salt Lake City International airport ranks first in the nation for percentage of on-time departures, and officials intend to keep it that way. In 2014, to keep pace with high demand and rapid growth, the airport began self-funded construction on a new $1.8 billion state-of-the-art terminal.
Photo Caption: Utah’s quality workforce extends well beyond Salt Lake City, Ogden and Provo. for example, ACT Aerospace in the central Utah town of Gunnison has reliable, hard-working, well-trained staff who match the best in the industry.
Utah’s transportation network has also lent itself to the development of top-notch broadband infrastructure statewide. When the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) began its overhaul of Interstate 15 for the 2002 Olympics, they partnered with broadband providers to install excess conduit in roads and exchanging right-of-way access throughout the state. Today, even rural Utah has access to some of the fastest broadband speeds in the nation. The Akami Research Center ranks Utah’s statewide broadband speeds No. 3 in the U.S. and No. 1 in the West. Utah is a one-day truck drive or less from almost every major city in the western U.S., and main rail lines link Utah directly to the major seaports of Los Angeles, Oakland, Portland and Seattle. And your employees will be happy about this little detail: the average commute is just 21 minutes long.
Data, Data, Data
It shouldn’t be a surprise, then, that Silicon Slopes, Utah’s ski-friendly counterpoint to Silicon Valley, appears more and more in national headlines. With more than 4,300 companies, the vibrant tech scene along the Wasatch Front includes not only billion dollar companies, but also thousands of cutting-edge startups.
Venture capital firms have taken notice. Utah saw a 500 percent growth in venture capital in the last five years. According to Inc. magazine, the Provo-Orem area and Salt Lake-Ogden area 2014 dollar-per-deal averages, at $51.3 million and $17.2 million respectively, ranked in the top three nationwide—beating out Silicon Valley.
A data center hub has cropped up here, too. In addition to Utah’s competitive electric and natural gas rates, there’s land available for development. Perhaps most famously, the National Security Agency completed construction on its $1.5 billion Utah Data Center in May 2014. Home-grown companies like C7 and ViaWest operate data centers throughout the state, and eBay’s state-of-the-art Salt Lake City facility was the first in the world to use Bloom Energy fuel cell servers as its primary power source.
Innovation doesn’t stop with the tech industry in Utah. According to an analysis of Hachman Index data, Utah boasts the third-most diverse economy in the nation, thanks to robust and dynamic industries like aerospace and defense, outdoor products and recreation, life sciences, financial services and energy and natural resources.
Photo Caption: Beautiful National Forest areas and recreation trails are just minutes from downtown Salt Lake City. Credit: Utah Office of Tourism
Of course, life is better when you can work hard and play hard. Eighty-two percent of Utah’s population participates in outdoor recreation each year—more than any other state. With five national parks, seven national monuments, two national recreation areas, six national forests and 43 state parks to choose from, it’s hard to resist. The state also boasts 14 ski resorts, ten of them within a one-hour drive of Salt Lake City airport. Outdoor recreation opportunities are both abundant and accessible.
Don’t be mistaken. Utah offers much more than just mountains and red rock. From the Tony award winning Utah Shakespeare Festival to the world-renowned Sundance Film Festival, from five-star restaurants to neighborhood farmer’s markets, from professional symphonies to vibrant local music scenes—this state has it all.
If you haven’t yet experienced Life Elevated®, start planning your next trip at visitutah.com. Ready to skip the vacation and get straight to business? Check out Utah’s tech scene at utahtechnetwork.com, and explore locate.utah.gov for a landscape-level view of broadband availability, utility information, transportation, workforce and lifestyle features across the state. More information on Utah’s business climate and corporate incentives is available at business.utah.gov.
Visit http://www.expansionsolutionsmagazine.com/utah_ed for local economic development office directory listings.
Bio: Sara Adelman is a marketing and communications specialist for the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development.