Utah Business Friendly from Top to Bottom

Pete CodellaBusiness

This August has been a month for accolades—but we’re used to that by now. Despite a long track record for excellence, Utah still consistently places at the top of “best of” economic rankings. And Thumbtack has an A+ for Small Business Friendlinessto add to the state’s report card.

“Business friendliness has been a bedrock principle in Utah because of the natural inclination for entrepreneurship to be found among our residents,” said Governor Gary R. Herbert. “It is in small business innovation that we find the catalyst for our future large businesses.”

The A+ grade comes directly from 203 surveyed Utah business owners. The state received A+ markings in four of the specific categories: state regulations; employment, labor and hiring; environmental regulations; zoning; and training and networking programs. The state’s small business owners also gave Utah high marks for other categories, including a variety of government policies, and not a single one of the category grades fell below a B. Business owners cited ease of hiring (an A grade) and health & safety (another A) as other key contributors to the state’s success.

On top of the Thumbtack findings, Business Facilities released a report earlier this month with a few more top-ten rankings to add to the state’s resume:

•    Economic Growth Potential: No. 1
•    Best Business Climate: No. 5
•    Best Business Tax Climate: No. 9
•    Employment Leaders: No. 3
•    Best Infrastructure: No. 8
•    Broadband Leaders: No. 6

“The state keeps winning because we maintain a going-for-gold mentality and work ethic no matter what our previous performance was,” said Val Hale, executive director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED). “It seems like we are in a top-ten ranking every week. However, looking at the tax climate and infrastructure categories in the Business Facilities rankings, for example, we can see that we still have work to do. But the best part is, we’ll do it.”

Growth is Utah’s trump card. For five consecutive months, Utah continues to grow at the fastest pace in the country. With job growth at 4.5% and unemployment at 3.5%, Utah provides fertile but stable ground to live and work on. Beginning with the No. 1 Best Economic Outlook from the American Legislative Exchange Council in April, Utah has continued to excel in job growth and economic strength both at the state and city level.

In terms of solid city-level performance, Business Facilities also reported that Provo and Salt Lake City lead the pack nationwide not only in growth potential and leadership but also in STEM education (Provo, No. 9), medical device hubs (Salt Lake City, No. 6) and tech jobs (Salt Lake City, No. 6). These specific rankings showcase GOED’s winning formula for teamwork across every sector, both public and private. Other states should take note: the Beehive State collaborates to yield stellar results so Utahns can enjoy a high quality of life.

“Utah’s high marks are truly statewide achievements,” said Ben Hart, managing director for business services at GOED. “It’s in building strong small businesses and communities that we create a truly sustainable economic environment. We keep winning as a state because we keep winning locally. Our economy is and will continue to be the result of both large and small businesses’ success.”

Illustrating business success big and small, the governor recently celebrated the opening of the new Scatec 104MW solar power plant near Delta when he also noticed a new local startup. The governor couldn’t help but try some of the punch these two young residents were offering.

Governor Gary R. Herbert attends “grand opening” of punch & cookies near Delta, Utah.