Hey, Utah, It’s Time to Be Proud of Your Tech Industry … and Everything Else

Pete CodellaAccolades

Not even the Silicon Valley rivals Utah in this year’s tech industry Venture Capital investments. This victory only adds to the long list of national and international recognition the state has received. Time and time again, Utah has proven that it’s more than just a nice place to raise a family; it rivals the best of the best in economy, industry growth, real estate prices, culture and talent.

In October, The Associated Press released venture capital statistics on the dollar amount invested in tech startups during the first nine months of 2014. (See the rankingshere.) The finding listed Provo-Orem at #8 with nine deals that reached a total of $462 million. The study also listed Salt Lake City-Ogden as #12 with 16 deals totaling $275 million.

A Utahn might read those rankings and say, “that’s nice,” and move on. But INC. magazine saw this ranking in a different way—a way that sheds light on just how strongly Silicon Slopes rivals Silicon Valley, and in a way that shows just how little Utahns realize that it’s playing with the big kids now.  The INC. story which leads with the headline “Move Over, Silicon Valley: Utah Has Arrived,” author Ilan Mochari notes, “When it comes to staggering sums of venture capital raised in 2014, there’s Utah, and then there’s everyone else.  (Read INC. magazines take on the study here.)

Inc. Magazine found that when looked at by dollar-per-deal averages, Utah is at the top of the list. The magazine calculated that Provo-Orem ranked first with a $51.3 million per average deal, and Salt Lake City-Ogden ranked third with a $17.2 million per deal average. This left room for San Franciso to squeeze into second place with an $18.4 million per average deal.

IT and software is not the only industry where Utah is catching the eye of businesses around the world. “We’ve been working hard to streamline the growth process for manufacturers and other businesses here in Utah,” said Todd R. Bingham, president of the Utah Manufacturers Association. “Not only is Utah growing in the tech industry—which is a significant part of what makes manufacturing so great here in the state—but Utah is growing significantly in other industries, and that only makes for an even more promising future.”

Mr. Bingham is right. It’s not just in IT manufacturing where Utah is playing with the big kids. Utah has stepped up to play in the industry big leagues in life sciences, energy development, aerospace and defense and in other strategic economic clusters.

A group of “site-selector’s” who are corporate location consultants,  recently held their national meeting in Salt Lake City and the general tone of the feed back they gave state economic development officials was “you don’t have to be arrogant, Utah; but it’s time to be proud of the business friendly environment you have created because that is what has attracted us to Utah,” said Val Hale, executive director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED).

For too long, Utahns have been too self-deprecating and modest to blow our own horn. However, on a regular basis, Utah is recognized for high-profile business acumen, unrivaled language talent, business friendly “best practices” in economic development and is seen as a place where companies need to be and want to be.

Recently the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) compared the states for business creation and deaths.  Utah blew other states away with new business “creation,” substantially beating such states as Massachusettes and California. Significantly, and contrary to popular belief in Utah, the state was only “average” with business “deaths” leaving Utah with a growing number of successful new businesses, year on year.

In all of these accomplishments, outside observers like INC. magazine show Utahns its time to get over being embarrassed about how good we are, across the board—not only in business, but in culture, in talent, in real estate prices and in community values.

It’s time, Utah. It’s time to be proud.