When you think of the nation’s greatest sports dynasties, you might think of the Boston Celtics, New York Yankees or Green Bay Packers. Now think “economic dynasty”—and Utah should come to mind. Forbes magazine once again ranked Utah as the No. 1 Best State for Business for 2015. This marks five out of the last six years in the top spot.
“We’ve enjoyed years of success but have also learned a very important lesson: it’s much harder to stay on top than it is to get there,” said Governor Gary R. Herbert. “It’s always exciting to earn top accolades, but it’s even more meaningful that this is our fifth win from Forbes. It means that all of our work to maintain a winning business environment is working. It means we’re continuously building a champion state.”
Utah has been ranked No. 1 for economic outlook every year since 2008. Everyone from the Washington Post and Fortune magazine to The New Yorker has been talking about Utah, trying to discover the Beehive State’s secret to success. Collaboration is one of the state’s not-so-secret strengths.
“Sports dynasties don’t happen because of one star player or a single miracle play,” said Val Hale, executive director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development. “They happen because of focused strategy, tireless effort and—perhaps most importantly—teamwork. The same goes for Utah’s economy. This is the result of continued partnership between Utah’s greatest in business, government, education and our communities. Team Utah has built an incredible economic dynasty.”
The Forbes ranking comes just days after the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s latest research titled “Enterprising States: States Innovate.” Utah took top marks in all six measured categories, including business climate and high-tech performance. The state won the No. 1 spot for innovation and entrepreneurship, garnering the label of “most fundamentally sound state” from the Chamber.
One point in the Chamber’s study is reminiscent of 2013—the one year in the past six—that Utah ranked a still noteworthy No. 3 rather than No. 1 with Forbes. One area for improvement in the “States Innovate” report is talent pipeline. Utah barely missed the top ten for the category taking the No. 11 spot.
Like any hall of fame team, Utah’s overall success lies in a proactive focus on the fundamentals: reduced regulation, spending within means and, when necessary, implementing “cross-training” and “conditioning” to perfect our economic play.
Just last month, an unprecedented collaboration between government, industry and education leaders produced the Utah Aerospace Pathways (UAP) program. The program is designed to place high school students on the fast-track for aerospace careers, landing them in high-paying jobs right after high school graduation. UAP serves as a pilot for similar education programs for other industries—such as the IT and software sector—along with incumbent worker training programs. Coupled with other endeavors such as the STEM Action Center’s grant programs and teacher trainings, all hands are on deck for tackling workforce development. The idea is to create sustainable economic development.
“Our job as part of Team Utah is to work with companies that are considering Utah for expansion, so we see the business site selection process regularly,” said Jeff Edwards, president and CEO of the Economic Development Corporation of Utah. “Receiving the Forbes Best State for Business ranking again in 2015, and for the fifth time in six years, confirms what we hear from companies every day: no one else does economic development like Utah. The model we have in this state, with industry support, local community participation and leadership from the Governor’s Office—it is uncommon and remarkable.”