Op-ed: Utah is the place to do business
This article was written by Theresa Foxley, president & CEO of the Economic Development Corporation of Utah, Lane Beattie, president & CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber and Val Hale, executive director of the Governor's Office of Economic Development. Originally published in the Salt Lake Tribune.
Utah's growing reputation as a premier business destination is gaining traction. This week the Beehive State is playing host to some of our nation's top site selectors and consultants at the Business Facilities LiveXchange in Park City.
Many Utahns likely do not understand that these folks are critical stakeholders behind the decisions that help bring new jobs to our community and keep our state competitive. While we hope the attendees will enjoy Utah's unrivaled quality of life in scenic Park City, we have to take this opportunity to share why they shouldn't just bring a conference here, but their next company or expansion opportunity.
Utah has built a model for corporate recruitment in partnership with many of the attendees to the event, and we are always looking to improve. This starts with Gov. Gary Herbert's recent announcement of the "Utah Business Promise," the state's commitment to a business-friendly environment and high quality of life. While some state's marketing might get ahead of product development, in Utah, we deliver on our commitments. Take the following into consideration:
• Top-tier business climate: Utah is ranked ninth by the Tax Foundation for how well states structure their tax systems. This is in addition to some of the lowest energy prices nationwide and a stellar regulatory climate that just got better with the most significant overhaul of regulatory policy in state history.
• Diversified economy: To the surprise of many, Utah boasts vibrant financial services, technology and software development and life sciences industries. Utah's Silicon Slopes and the Wall Street of the West help make up one of the most diverse economies in the nation, providing opportunities for any company to thrive.
• Educated workforce: Utah's nation-leading population growth builds on a burgeoning talent pool of an educated and prepared workforce ready to meet industry needs. For example, 120 languages are spoken in daily commerce in the state, giving the workforce deep cultural insights few states, or even nations, can boast. This comes in addition to Herbert's new initiative, Talent Ready Utah, which aims to fill 40,000 new high-skill, high-paying jobs through innovative partnerships and work-based learning opportunities to better meet industry needs.
• Crossroads of the West: Strategically located in the Intermountain West, Utah has considerable and convenient rail, highway and air infrastructure. Add to that a commuter rail line stretching 89 miles and some of the fastest broadband speeds in the world, and it is easy to understand how companies can compete from every region in the state.
• Among the most urban states: A little known fact, Utah is among the most urban states in the country. Utah has the 9th highest urban population in the nation at 90.6 percent, meaning that the population is concentrated in urban areas. Companies have access to the majority of the state's population along the Wasatch Front.
• Investing in our future: In Utah, we take our commitment to future economic growth just as seriously as problem solving today's biggest challenges. This includes the nearly $3 billion redevelopment of Salt Lake City International Airport, a new $1 billion bond to advance critical transportation infrastructure and hundreds of millions of new dollars being invested in our education system.
• Quality of life: Living in Utah means employees have access to some of the most beautiful natural vistas in the country. While attendees will miss out on our world-class skiing, our spring climate can be just as generous with opportunities to live "Life Elevated."
• Focused on the big picture: While any region or state would be lucky to enjoy our success, we're not settling in any time soon. Major discussions are already underway regarding generational economic development opportunities including exploring an inland port to take advantage of our superior transportation infrastructure, and maximizing a distinctive development partnership at Hill Air Force Base that is already paying dividends for our economy and national defense.
In Utah, economic development is a team sport unlike any other state in the nation. We know when to lean in, tool up and invest in our future. And most importantly, when our fundamental strengths are combined with our spirit of collaboration, our ability to compete is unrivaled. Every Utahn can appreciate the benefits of a thriving economy. Few, though, know the important role site selectors play in the process. We deeply appreciate the partnership our state has had with many of these professionals and hope they'll continue to take a closer look at Utah's success.
Theresa Foxley is president and CEO of the Economic Development Corporation of Utah. Lane Beattie is president and CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber. Val Hale is executive director of the Governor's Office of Economic Development.