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Government

Utah Governor Gary R. Herbert and his administration have successfully built an extraordinary public-private collaboration that has made Utah the nation’s most dynamic economy.

Consistently ranking at the top of the best-managed U.S. states, Utah continues to garner awards and recognition, including:

  • #1 “Best States for Business and Careers” from Forbes 2010 and 2011
  • #1 for “Economic Outlook” from the ALEC-Laffer State Economic Competitive Index 2011 (fourth consecutive year)
  • #1 for “Expected Economic Recovery”
  • from the American Legislative Exchange Council
  • AAA bond/credit rating from Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s
  • #1 “Debt Weight Scorecard” from Forbes

From the most recent Kaufman New Economy Survey (2010), Utah earned these high ratings:

  • #1 “Most Dynamic Economy”
  • #1 for “Inventor Patents”
  • #1 for “Online Population”
  • #1 for “E-Government”

The Pew Center study, a broad-based assessment of how a state manages people, information, infrastructure and capital, has recognized Utah’s ongoing commitment to sound economic growth. The study reports: “Utah has been a clear leader in sound government based on smart planning and effective performance management that emphasizes longterm results.”

In addition to garnering numerous No. 1 accolades for Utah from credible sources, the consistent rigorous governance of the state’s elected officials and regulators has helped position Utah for increased prominence in the global economy that emerges from the current global economic downturn. Pollina’s “Corporate Top 10 Pro-Business States for 2011: Rebuilding America’s Economic Power” ranks Utah second nationally for its enlightened pro-business policies.

Utah’s record of economic dynamism extends throughout the State’s cities and counties. In 2011, The Milken Institute ranked three of Utah’s cities among the nation’s best locations for business. Utah’s capitol, Salt Lake City, ranked No. 6. The institute ranked Provo No. 9 and Ogden No. 15. Among the nation’s small cities, Utah’s Logan ranked No. 1.

In addition, the State was named the most tech-savvy state in the nation by the 2008 and 2010 Digital States Survey, a comprehensive biannual survey performed by the Center for Digital Government. The study engaged the efforts of state chief information officers and senior executives from throughout the nation in analyzing information and services provided to citizens in areas ranging from technology infrastructure to online applications and new Web 2.0 technologies, and the nation’s first measurement of sustainability (emphasizing “green IT”) efforts.

Highlights

  • Utah has a profound legacy of public-private collaboration to foster innovation and economic development.
  • Utah is consistently recognized as the nation’s best managed state with the most dynamic economy:
  • #1 “Best States for Business and Careers” from Forbes.
  • #1 “Debt Weight Scorecard” from Forbes.
  • “The Best Managed State in the Nation” by most recent Pew Center on the States study.
  • #1 for “Economic Outlook” from the ALEC -Laffer State Economic Competitive Index.
  • #1 for “Expected Economic Recovery” for the fourth consecutive year from the American Legislative Exchange Council.
  • AAA bond/credit rating from Moody’s, Fitch and Standard & Poor’s.

Cooperation and Collaboration

Utah’s exceptional governance draws its vitality from a strong tradition of innovative economic development legislation and programs, developed through collaboration between the state’s public and private sectors and its higher education community.

Under the direction of Governor Herbert, the Governor’s Office of Economic Development is building upon this heritage through a bold yet sound approach to economic development that includes innovative business development programs and initiatives in the state. These programs which are informed by the Herbert Administration’s top priorities of energy, education and high technology—include Technology Commercialization & Innovation Program, the Utah Fund of Funds, the Utah Economic Clusters and the Utah Science Technology and Research (USTAR) initiative, and other statewide and regional efforts.

Industrial Banks

One of the most remarkable and enduring Utah economic development victories began during the 1980s and 1990s. Utah regulators and legislators worked closely with leaders in the state’s banking sector to develop rigorous laws and policies that helped establish Utah as the clear global leader for special-purpose industrial banks (also known as industrial loan companies, or ILCs) for companies in a broad array of industries. For more information on Utah’s industrial banking industry and other financial services categories, visit the Utah Department of Financial Institutions website, www.dfi.utah.gov.

Technology Commercialization & Innovation Program

The Technology Commercialization & Innovation Program (TCIP) is a State-funded grant program developed by the Utah Legislature in 1986. TCIP was developed to help accelerate the process of taking university developed cutting-edge technologies to market, thereby driving economic development and creating jobs for Utahns. Many successful companies and products have developed as a result of TCIP. Funding has been provided to companies ranging from established industry players such as Myriad Genetics, Sonic Innovations and Moxtek to such promising young ventures as LineaGen, TechniScan Medical Systems and Larada Sciences.

The program’s companies in aggregate have entered into several hundred licensing agreements and obtained well over 200 patents. The TCIP program has resulted in the creation of approximately 220 companies; more than 70 are still active, employing 2,000-plus with an average salary of $65,000. In 2010-2011, the program received 45 proposals, of which 21 have received funding approval: 15 from the University of Utah, and five each from Brigham Young University and Utah State University. In recent years, TCIP has added refinements to accelerate the commercialization of university technologies and build a dynamic pipeline of products and companies by licensing promising university technologies to existing companies.

Targeted Economic Clusters

Through GOED, the Herbert Administration has strategically identified and developed seven economic clusters: Aviation & Aerospace, Defense & Homeland Security, Energy & Natural Resources, Financial Services, Life Sciences, Outdoor Products & Recreation, Software Development & Information Technology. The Economic Clusters Initiative serves as a catalyst to focus people, ideas and resources in Utah’s areas of greatest strength and potential in order to create high paying jobs and economic development. Businesses within the clusters are supported through the establishment of synergies, improvement of distribution channels, creation and leveraging of economies of scale, and a highly skilled workforce. For more information, visit www.business.utah.gov/targeted-industries.

International Trade and Diplomacy

The Governor’s International Trade and Diplomacy Office assists Utah companies in developing markets for their products and services in foreign countries. The office has launched a series of national and international exchanges, designed to develop and strengthen personal and business relationships between business and government leaders in Utah and in other U.S. markets and abroad, and is currently engaged in developing an active Utah World Trade Center. The Kauffman Foundation ranked Utah #6 for “Export Focus of Manufacturing and Services” in 2010. Utah’s global exports reached nearly $19 billion in 2011, a 39.5 percent increase from 2010 to 2011. The State also leads the nation in five-year export growth. For more information, visit www.international.utah.gov.

Utah Fund of Funds

The Utah Fund of Funds program was established with the passage of Utah House Bill 240 (“The Venture Capital Enhancement Act”) through $100 million of contingent tax credits. The Fund of Funds invests in strong performing venture capital/private equity firms, which in turn explore investments in promising Utah companies. In 2008, the Utah Legislature, with support and direction from the state’s entrepreneurial economy, voted to add $200 million in further contingent tax credits, bringing the total under the program’s management to $300 million. The program receives oversight from two boards: the public Utah Capital Investment Board (UCIB) and the private, executive Utah Capital Investment Corporation (UCIC). Over 500 Utah companies have been reviewed by Utah Fund of Funds portfolio managers, and 52 Utah companies have raised over $1.1 billion from the program’s funds. The Utah Fund of Funds program has played a key role in helping Utah rank #3 for “Fastest Growing Firms” and #5 for “Venture Capital” in the 2010 Kauffman Foundation study. For more information on the Utah Fund of Funds, visit www.utahfof.com.

USTAR

During the 2006 Utah legislative session, strong collaboration between industry, government and education leaders resulted in passage of the Utah Science Technology and Research (USTAR) economic development initiative, which is designed to maximize research-oriented technology development and commercialization from Utah’s leading institutions of higher learning by attracting and developing top research teams throughout the world. USTAR’s focus ranges from biomedical to advanced nutrition, nanotechnology biosensors, biofuels, fossil energy and other efforts that leverage existing university and industry strengths, while addressing large, strategic markets and vast commercialization opportunities. USTAR has been instrumental in helping attract top research teams from throughout the U.S. to Utah. The Kauffman Foundation ranked Utah #11 for “High Tech Jobs” and #13 for “Scientists and Engineers” in 2010. For more information on USTAR, visit www.innovationutah.com.

Incentives

To further accelerate job creation and economic development throughout the state, Utah leaders have established an array of incentive programs that target companies in key strategic industries for the state. All of these programs operate on a post-performance basis in order to spur company performance while assuring a positive ROI for Utah and its citizens. The Economic Development Tax Increment Financing (EDTIF) incentive was created to incent indigenous companies expanding in Utah, or companies outside the state relocating or developing new operations in the state to create high-paying jobs in Utah. The incentive generally runs 5-10 years, with a tax credit of up to 30 percent for the entire project. It is anticipated that these incentives will generate thousands of jobs, billions of dollars in new salaries and several hundred million dollars in state tax revenue annually.

The Utah Legislature and the Herbert Administration support the development of the state’s vibrant tourism and film industries, extending the reach of the state’s highly successful “Life Elevated” campaign. The Cooperative Marketing Program, offered by the Utah Office of Tourism, matches marketing dollars that enable organizations, communities and regions throughout the state to market their world-class attractions and amenities.

Another impactful program, the Motion Picture Incentive Program (MPIP) is a 15-25 percent, post performance cash rebate or tax credit for all production dollars spent in the state. Since Stagecoach rode into Utah in 1920, a host of highly regarded films—from Thelma and Louise and Pirates of the Caribbean: World’s End to Disney’s record-breaking High School Musical series—have benefited from Utah’s extraordinary landscapes, architecture and incentives. P3 magazine recognized Utah as one of the “10 Top Locations Worldwide” for film, television, broadcast, commercial, documentary and music video production. For more information, please visit film.utah.gov.

Fast-Tracking Rural Business in Utah

During the past decade, GOED has provided a series of low-cost equipment leases, training programs, state income tax credits and other resources to help enterprising entrepreneurs establish companies in rural Utah that provide a variety of products and services for clients and business partners statewide, nationally and globally. Participating entrepreneurs and growth companies have created new high-quality jobs throughout the state. The U.S. Department of Commerce has recognized Utah’s Fast Track program as the nation’s most innovative economic development regional initiative.

Business Relocation and Expansion Programs

Business relocation and expansion programs, developed through a highly productive collaboration between the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) and the Economic Development Corporation of Utah (EDCUtah), have defied the current extended downturn by helping attract compelling expansion and relocation efforts in the Beehive State. In the past five years, their combined efforts helped secure more than 100 relocation, retention or expansion projects for Utah, producing many thousands of high-quality, new jobs in the State. This successful activity reinforces Utah government’s deep commitment to its people and companies, as it helps the private sector position the state as a place of unparalleled innovation and dynamism.