Utah’s government has a legacy of economic stewardship and responsible development. This legacy continues today under the leadership of Governor Gary R. Herbert, who has positioned Utah to be one of the nation’s healthiest and most promising economies.
- #1: Utah ranked No. 1 by Forbes for “Best State for Business and Careers” 2010, 2011 and 2012.
- #1: Pollina Corporate Real Estate, a gold standard for evaluating states, issued Utah its first No. 1 ranking in 2012.
- #2: Utah ranked No. 2 in CNBC’s “America’s Top States for Business 2012.”
- #1: Business Facilities ranked Utah as having the best business climate in 2011.
- #2: Utah ranked No. 2 “Next Boom States” in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s “Enterprising States” report.
- The American Legislative Exchange Council ranked Utah No. 1 in 2012 for “Expected Economic Recovery and Economic Outlook.” Utah has held the number one position for five years in a row.
Governor Gary R. Herbert, Utah’s 17th governor, has led Utah’s economy to be one of the strongest in the nation during a time of global and national economic unrest. Under his leadership, Utah has become one of the nation’s strongest states, boasting a low unemployment rate, sound economic growth and a strategic plan for prosperity. Governor Herbert is focused on four cornerstones to strengthen Utah’s economy: education, energy, jobs, self determination — the ability of the state to solve its own problems. As a result, Utah is a premier destination for business and jobs, and Utahns have an enviable quality of life.
Utah’s record of economic dynamism extends throughout the State’s cities and counties. Three cities named in Top 10 Best Performing Cities for Business by Milken Institute 2012.
- Large Metro Cities: No. 6 – Salt Lake City, No. 7 – Provo
- Small City: No. 1 – Logan
Under Governor Herbert’s direction, Utah continues to garner awards and recognition, including:
- No.1 for “Economic Outlook” from the ALEC-Laffer State Economic Competitive Index 2011 (fifth consecutive year).
- No. 1 for “Expected Economic Recovery” from the American Legislative Exchange Council.
- AAA bond/credit rating from Moody’s, Fitch and Standard & Poor’s.
- No. 1 “Debt Weight Scorecard” from Forbes.
- Utah ranks third for regulatory climate in the Mercatus Center’s “Freedom in the 50 States” study (a metric used by Forbes).
- Utah ranked No. 1 by Forbes for “Best State For Business and Careers” 2010, 2011 and 2012.
- Utah’s Forbes rankings in those categories are:
- Business Costs: 12
- Economic Climate: 6
- Labor Supply: 4
- Growth Prospects: 9
- Regulatory Environment: 6
- Quality of Life: 15
Strategic Leadership: 100,000 Jobs in 1,000 Days
Governor Gary R. Herbert created an 11-member Governor’s Economic Council to coordinate statewide economic development activities through Utah’s unprecedented partnerships and in support of private sector efforts to create 100,000 jobs in 1,000 days. Along with a focus on public education, workforce readiness and employer needs, the council will key in on seven action items:
- Continuing to recruit new companies to the State.
- Reducing taxes on business expansion inputs for local Utah companies.
- Increasing access to capital for small and startup businesses.
- Assisting the growth of companies in rural Utah by expanding the Business Expansion and Retention program and the Rural Fast Track Program.
- Diversifying and expanding Utah’s export base by assisting companies get to market.
- Implementing the State’s 10-Year Energy Plan to ensure access to affordable, reliable and sustainable energy.
- Ensuring a stable business environment and maintaining Utah’s AAA bond-rating through regulatory reform and fiscally prudent management of State government.
Through GOED, the Herbert Administration has strategically identified and developed six economic clusters that serve as a catalyst to focus people, ideas and resources in Utah’s areas of economic strength and potential. These targeted clusters create synergies of business development in order to create high-paying jobs and further Utah’s economic dynamism. The strategic economic clusters are:
- Aerospace & Defense
- Life Sciences
- Energy & Natural Resources
- Outdoor Products & Recreation
- Financial Services
- Software Development & Information Technology
The Utah Science Technology and Research initiative (USTAR) is a long-term, State-funded investment to strengthen Utah’s “knowledge economy.” This initiative invests in world-class innovation teams and research facilities at the University of Utah (U of U) and Utah State University (USU), to create novel technologies that are subsequently commercialized through new business ventures.
The USTAR initiative comprises three major components: recruiting and hiring of profitable research teams, construction of state-of-the-art interdisciplinary research buildings, and operation of technology outreach programs throughout the State, with locations at Weber State University, Utah Valley University, USU-Vernal and Southern Utah University. The program has been greatly successful, launching the BioInnovations Center at USU during 2011 and opening the James L. Sorenson Molecular Biotechnology Building, a USTAR Innovations Center, at the U of U during 2012.
USTAR provides funding that accelerates the ability of the U of U and USU to recruit world-class researchers, specifically into high-growth focus. USTAR has hired 50 top all-stars or “catalysts” who have attracted $131 million in federal and industry-sponsored grant funding to the State. USTAR research has yielded more than 330 invention disclosures with 185 patents and provisional patents filed to date.
USTAR also operates outreach teams across the State to help entrepreneurs and existing companies commercialize new technology and access the resources available at higher education institutions. USTAR regional outreach has conducted hundreds of projects with emerging businesses in 20 out of 29 counties, helping more than 40 new companies launch and new products to reach the market.
Technology Commercialization and Innovation Program (TCIP)
The TCIP is a State-funded grant and mentoring program that was developed for the purpose of commercializing cutting-edge technologies developed at Utah’s colleges and universities. Managed by GOED, the TCIP provides grants of up to $40,000 for university-developed technologies that show promise of commercial success. The grants contribute to Governor Gary Herbert’s goal to accelerate the creation of 100,000 new Utah jobs.
There are two types of eligible applicants for this grant:
1. A faculty-led team at a Utah college or university, public or private.
2. A company, existing or startup, that has licensed or is in the process of licensing a technology from a Utah college or university.
The Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) provides postperformance financial incentives for business relocation and expansion to select companies that create new, high-paying jobs to help improve the standard of living, increase the tax base, attract and retain top-level management, and diversify the State economy. Incentives are offered as either tax credits or grants. A majority of those incentives requires guaranteed job creation in order to be rewarded.
Economic opportunity grants in 2013 have included funding for Visit Salt Lake to help retain the popular and economically important Outdoor Retailer trade shows through 2016, and funding Startup Ogden to provide tech training and entrepreneurial support.
EDTIF Tax Credit
The Economic Development Zone Tax Increment Finance (EDTIF) is used for projects in specific targeted industries in urban areas and projects. EDTIF is a post-performance, refundable tax credit for up to 30 percent of new State revenues (sales, corporate and withholding taxes paid to the state) over the life of the project (ranging from five to 20 years). It is available to companies seeking relocation and expansion of operations in Utah.
The incentive is based on job creation for jobs paying higher than county median wages and is a post-performance award. Requirements to receive this fund involve:
- Participation by local government to provide local incentives.
- Enter into an incentive agreement with GOED, which specifies performance milestones.
- Demonstrate company stability and profitability.
- Demonstrate competition with other locations.
- Create new high-paying jobs in the State: at least 50 jobs in urban counties/at least 125 percent of urban county average or 100 percent of rural county average.
Custom Fit training money can be a part of an incentive mix and is used to help companies train their employees and is administered generally through state colleges and state applied technology centers.
In support of the film industry in the State of Utah, Governor Gary R. Herbert and the State Legislature have approved the Motion Picture Incentive Program. The State of Utah may provide a post-performance financial incentive to production companies in order to help develop a strong motion picture industry presence in the State, which will contribute substantially to improving Utah’s economy.
The Motion Picture Incentive Program is a post-performance, fully refundable tax credit of production dollars spent in the State of Utah. An approved project spending a minimum of $1,000,000 in Utah can be rebated 20% to 25% (if certain conditions are met) on every dollar spent in the State.
Responsible development of Utah’s rural areas is a priority to State leaders. GOED has long supported companies in rural Utah through its Enterprise Zones and Rural Fast Track (RFT), which provide training programs, infrastructure development, state income tax credits and other resources to support entrepreneurialism and build stronger business communities. Participating entrepreneurs and growth companies have created new high-quality jobs throughout the State. Over three-quarters of a million dollars in RFT grants were offered in FY12 to support nonretail business expansion in counties with a population less than 30,000. Private investments leveraging the State’s investment in those projects exceeded 10:1.
The State of Utah has also invested ongoing funds into the Business Expansion and Retention (BEAR) program to assist with economic, workforce and community development in Utah’s 25 “rural” counties.
Utah’s statewide business support network also deploys consolidated resources through GOED’s 13 Business Resource Centers (BRCs). BRC partners include Small Business Development Centers (SBDC), USTAR, Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTAC) as well as microloan organizations and business incubators within Utah’s broader business community of chambers and local economic development offices. In fact, PTAC helped Utah small businesses obtain more than $477 million in contracts in FY12 contributing to about 9,500 jobs — and Utah is on track to break the $500 million mark in FY13.
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.
GOED also works closely with World Trade Center Utah (WTC Utah) to enrich and develop Utah’s global network. WTC Utah is a licensed and certified member of the World Trade Centers Association headquartered in New York City. The mission of WTC Utah is to guide Utah companies into profitable global markets. The organization offers a variety of services to help build Utah’s international community. Services include:
- Assessment of a company’s current global position or international strategy.
- Education in the form of seminars and workshops to help develop a global strategy.
- Connections through the World Trade Center network and co-hosted local events to help in executing global strategy.
The State of Utah has successfully doubled is exports during recent years and according to WISERTrade remains the only state to have achieved continual export growth over the last six years. The State has an aggressive goal to continue expanding its exports in a diversified range of goods and services going forward. According to the U.S. Chamber, “[Utah’s] exporting of nonmonetary gold has nearly tripled since 2008 and accounts for a majority of the state’s exports by value. Other important exports from the Beehive State include electronic memory circuits, aircraft parts, medical devices and diversified life science products, automotive systems, and X-ray equipment. Utah’s biggest trading partners in 2012 were the United Kingdom, at 31 percent, and Hong Kong at 22 percent of total exports.”
Top Five Export Industries:
- Primary Metals
- Computer & Electronics
- Food & Kindred Products
- Transportation Equipment
Top Six Destinations in 2012 and 2013:
- United Kingdom
- Hong Kong
Source: World Trade Center Utah
Fund of Funds
The Utah Fund of Funds is a $300 million State of Utah economic development program aimed at providing access of alternative or nontraditional capital to Utah entrepreneurs. The Utah Fund of Funds will not invest money into any company or individual, but rather will invest in venture capital and private equity funds that commit to establishing a working relationship with the Utah Fund of Funds, Utah’s startup and business community and commit to making investments in qualifying companies. The Utah Fund of Funds will invest in venture capital and private equity funds located both in Utah and outside Utah.
Fund of Funds Highlights:
- By end of 2012, 18 UFOF portfolio funds had invested over $300 million in more than 50 companies.
- Investments to date of printing have helped support the creation of more than 2,000 new jobs.
- UFOF has overseen over 1,000 reviews of Utah-based investments by out-of-state venture capital firms.
- Fund of Funds jobs created will produce more than $100 million in tax revenue over the next 10 years.
- Has a portfolio has an aggregate of $5 billion investable capital.
Source: Utah Fund of Funds