Top 10 reasons to do Business in Utah
1. Workforce Labor Environment
Utah’s exceptional combination of business-friendly policies coupled with its energetic, educated and youthful workforce has created one of the nation’s most robust economies. Job growth in Utah is projected to be 2.8% annually through 2020, compared with 1.3% for the rest of the United States. Utah has the second lowest unemployment rate in the nation. Utah is one of 24 states operating under a right-to-work law, and is 43rd in the nation in percentage of unionized workers. Utah has a tech-ready workforce, ranking number 3 for entrepreneurship and innovation in the US (US Chamber), and number 1 in tech employment growth in the western region (Utah Technology Council). Utah’s hearty job growth is cultivated by an outstanding business environment. All industrial sectors had employment gains from 2012-2013. Only government employment decreased.
Department of Workforce Services (DWS)
Salt Lake Area Phone: 801-526-0950
Toll-Free Phone: 1-866-435-7414
P.O. Box 143245
Salt Lake City, UT 84114-3245
Utah has the nation’s youngest population, with an average median age of 29.9, and the state’sleaders recognize the importance of educating youth to become skilled, competitive members of the workforce. Approximately 90% of Utahns have earned at least a high school degree, and more than 55% have attended some college. Utah’s graduation rate is above the national average. Students pursuing higher education have a diverse and compelling set of educational options to choose from. Utah has 10 public and 3 private universities and colleges. The University of Utah ranked first in 2010 and 2011 for the number of start-ups powered by technology developed by faculty at a U.S. university. In 2012, the University of Utah took the #2 spot behind MIT. Utah maintains a major commitment to foreign language “total immersion” classrooms. 80% of BYU students are fluent in a second language, and Utah conducts more Mandarin immersion classes than anywhere else in the U.S. more than 130 languages are spoken in daily commerce in the state.
Utah State Office of Education
250 East 500 South, Salt Lake City, UT 84111
Utah System of Higher Education Board of Regents Building
60 S 400 W
Salt Lake City, Utah
STEM Action Center
Tami Goetz, Director
Utah is home to one of America’s most youthful states, which contributes to the state’s vibrant workforce and active lifestyle. Utah’s average household size, 3.14 persons, is the largest in the U.S., with the highest birthrate also (18.0 live births per 1,000 total population in 2012). By 2060, Utah’s population is projected to be more than 5.96 million people—a 106% increase. (Household income)
Utah derived its nickname—the Beehive State—from its deep-seated tradition of economic activity and vitality. Under the leadership of Governor Gary R. Herbert, Utah achieved an annual job growth rate of 2.61%, compared to the national average of 1.53%. Governor Herbert was listed at no. 3 among governors for job creation in 2013, and “most popular governor” in the country (The Washington Post). The state maintains an AAA bond/credit rating—one of only seven states to achieve this rating (Moody, Fitch and Standard and Poor’s), and USA TODAY ranked Utah as the no. 5 “best run” state in America in 2013. Founded in 2006, the state’s funded Utah Science Technology and Research (USTAR) program has invested $200 million in the state’s universities to recruit top researchers. Two Utah cities were named in the “Top Five Best Performing Cities for Business” in 2013: Provo (no.2) and Salt Lake City (no.5) (Milken Institute). The Governor’s International Trade and Diplomacy Office assists Utah companies in developing markets for their products and services in foreign countries.
Governor’s Office of Economic Development
60 E South Temple, 3rd Floor
Salt Lake City, UT
International Trade and Diplomacy Office
Brett Heimburger, Director
Franz Kolb, Director of Protocol and Diplomacy
Utah consistently ranks among the healthiest U.S. states (United Health Foundation). Utah residents pay the least of any state for health care (Wall Street Journal, April 2013). Utah’s hospitals rank high in many fields. In 2011, Utah’s Governor Herbert directed the Utah Department of Health to begin a health system transformation known as the Utah Health Innovation Plan, centered on establishing better health, better healthcare, and lower cost. Utah was one of the nation’s first states to launch its own health exchange, Avenue H, an internet-based portal that enables small business owners to offer affordable health benefits to their employees. Avenue H also connects individuals who are unable to access group coverage to major insurance organizations and thousands of brokers.
Patty Conner, Director
Utah has been long known as “the Crossroads of the West.” With two major interstates converging in the heart of the state, a robust rail network and a busy international airport, the state is a major hub for distribution and travel. Utah is a one-day truck drive or less from almost every major city in the Western U.S. Salt Lake International Airport ranked No. 2 in North America in 2012 for on-time departures (Flight Stats). It has about 625 scheduled daily flights serving 20 million passengers each year. Salt Lake’s public transportation system is No.1 in the nation for connecting people to jobs (Brookings Institution).
Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT)
4501 S 2700 W
Salt Lake City, UT
7. Energy and Public Utilities
With a rich history of developing both traditional fossil fuel and renewable energy resources, Utah boasts one of the least costly and most stable energy supplies in the nation. Energy is conservatively estimated to be a $4.7 billion industry in Utah. Its production of oil, gas, and coal generate more than 98% of all the energy produced in the state. Utah also has a rich source of unconventional energy resources, including oil shale, oil sands, and uranium, being home to some of the nation’s greatest known deposits of oil shale and oil sand (Green River Formation and Uintah Basin, respectively). Utah has the only licensed and operating uranium mill in the US. The state is also moving forward with utility-scale solar and wind projects, as well as other renewable energy sources.
Office of Energy Development
Laura Nelson, Director
8. Cost of Living and Doing Business
With a median household income of $58,268, a job growth hovering around three percent and a cost of doing business at 12.9 percent below the national average, Utah has been able to parlay its workforce strength by focusing on the complete workforce pipeline from kindergarten through advanced certificates and degrees. State government working with the private sector is actively engaged in meeting the challenges of an ever-growing demand for a highly skilled workforce. Utah ranked in the top ten in most of the Forbes criteria: #5 in business costs, and #4 in labor supply. The state also ranked #9 in regulatory environment, which along with the other factors previously mentioned, placed Utah as #6 in economic climate. Financial incentives are also provided by the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development for business relocation and expansion. These incentives are used to select companies that create new, high-paying jobs that help improve the standard of living, diversify the state economy, increase the tax base, attract and retain top-level management, and encourage graduates of in-state universities to remain in Utah.
Corporate Recruitment and Incentives
Theresa Foxley, Managing Director
Due to the high quality of services offered by Utah’s broadband providers, Utah is recognized as a leader in broadband deployment, especially when compared to states with similar geographic and rural market challenges. Utah has the second fastest internet speed in the West of the US. Provo, Utah was selected as the third city for internet fiber technology to be instituted. The broadband landscape in Utah is strong and successful, thanks to the great service of Utah’s broadband providers. Many areas in the state, even in the rural areas, have great service, including fiber and other technologies.
The State of Utah Broadband Project
Kelleigh Cole, Project Manager
10. Quality of Life
Quality life in Utah is unparalleled. Utah is home to five national parks, seven national monuments, two national recreation areas, six national forests, 14 world-class ski resorts, 43 state parks. The urban areas of the Salt Lake Valley where 85% of the state’s population reside are less than 45 minutes from its ski resorts, five lakes, and 12 rivers for fishing and boating. Utah hosts both the Tony Award-winning Shakespeare Festival and the Sundance Film Festival every year. The low crime rate also makes Utah ideal for raising families. The cost of living is average to the nation, unlike many of the neighboring metro areas, where cost of living exceeds the national average. Utah ranked No. 6 among America’s healthiest states (United Health Foundation in 2013). 6 of Utah’s cities were ranked Personal best Cities for Every Age in 2012 (Kiplinger). Utah boasts a four-season climate with lots of sunshine and low humidity.
6 Core Industry Clusters
Aerospace and defense
Energy and natural resources
Outdoor Products and Recreation
Software Development and IT
Upcoming sectors of growth
Advance Composite mfg.
Advanced Back Office Jobs
Select Tax Incentives
1. Economic Development Tax Increment Financing (EDTIF): The EDTIF is a post-performance, refundable tax credit for up to 30 percent of new state revenues (sales taxes, corporate taxes, and withholding taxes paid to the state) over the life of the project (typically 5 to 10 years). It is available to companies seeking relocation and expansion of operations to the State of Utah.
2. Industrial Assistance Fund (IAF): The IAF is a post-performance grant for the creation of high-paying jobs in the state. In order to avail of this grant, companies must (a) obtain a commitment from local government to provide local incentives, (b) enter into an incentive agreement with GOED, (c) create new high-paying jobs in Utah (at least 50 jobs in urban communities paying at least 125 percent of county average wage, and create new jobs in rural communities paying at least 100 percent of county average wage), (d) demonstrate company stability and profitability, (e) demonstrate competition with other locations outside of Utah.
3. Renewable Energy Development Incentive (REDI): is a post-performance, refundable tax credit for up to 100 percent of new state tax revenues (sales taxes, corporate taxes and withholding taxes paid to the state) over the life of the project (typically 5 to 10 years).
4. Research Tax Credits: Companies doing qualified research in Utah may be eligible for a non-refundable income tax credit of up to five percent of qualified research activities, and six percent of qualified investments in research machinery and equipment.1
5. Sales Tax Exemption for Manufacturing Equipment: Manufacturers (SIC 2000-3999) may be eligible for exemption from sales tax on the purchase of new equipment for Utah plant start-ups. Replacement manufacturing equipment purchases may also be eligible for exemption.2
6. Rural Fast Track Program (RFTP): The RFTP is a post-performance grant available to small companies in rural Utah. The program provides an efficient way for existing small companies to receive incentives for creating high-paying jobs in the rural areas of the state and to further promote business and economic development.
7. Enterprise Zone Tax Credits: An enterprise zone comprises an area identified by local elected and economic development officials, and designated by the state. Certain types of businesses locating or expanding in a designated zone may claim state income tax credits.
1 For more information, please visit http://incometax.utah.gov/credits_research.php
2 For additional information please visit: http://tax.utah.gov/forms/current/tc-721.pdf
8. Sales Tax Exemption for Manufacturing Equipment – Manufacturers may be eligible for
exemption from sales tax on the purchase of new equipment for Utah plant start-ups and
replacement manufacturing equipment purchases.
1. Custom Fit Training: This program provides specialized training for companies to train
their employees. Custom Fit training is administered through the Utah College of Applied
Technology centers, and state colleges and universities. Training may be conducted at
Salt Lake Community College campuses, Applied Technology Centers, or a business
location. This incentive subsidizes $20,000 for professional training, and requires a
2. Industrial Revenue Bonds (IRBs)/Industrial Development Bonds (IDBs): Counties and
municipalities issue IRBs/IDBs to promote industrial development and manufacturing
facilities in the state of Utah. Funds must be used for manufacturing facilities. There is a
$10 million cap per issue, and a $240 million total annual state allocation cap.
3. Recycling Zones: More than 20 Utah communities have been designated by the State of
Utah as Recycling Market Development Zones. The zone legislation was established to
incentivize businesses to use recycled materials in their manufacturing processes, and
create new products for sale. It also benefits businesses that collect, process, and
distribute recycled materials.
4. Tax Increment Financing: Cities and counties may award incentives to companies
locating in Economic Development Areas (EDA), Urban Renewal Areas (URA), or
Community Development Areas (CDA). The city or county determines EDA/URA/CDA
areas on a local level. Incentive dollars are generated through the creation of new
“property tax increment” that a development will generate.
Recent Utah Accolades:
#1 “Best State for Business” (2010, 2011, 2012, 2014, Forbes)
#1 “Pro Business State” (2014,
#1 “State for Small Business” (2014,
#3 “Top State for Business” (2014,
General Contact Information:
Governor’s Office of Economic Development
60 E South Temple
Salt Lake City, UT
3 For additional information please visit http://www.ucat.edu/aboutcustomfit.html