Utah continues to be among the leading states in supporting economic development in the private sector. For the fourth time in the last six years, Utah is the recipient of Area Development magazine’s Silver Shovel award.

Two of the six years, Utah received the “Gold Shovel” for small state economic development. By fostering two key economic development elements, site selection and facility planning, the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) continues to take active steps in supporting the Utah business community efforts to be among the best performing economies in the nation.

“Utah is proud to be the home of some of the best performing businesses in the country,” said Gov. Gary R. Herbert. “By building strong economic relationships with private industry, we have solidified our position as the best place to do business in America with an unsurpassed standard of living.”

Area Development analyzed two groups, “large population” and “small population” state economic development agencies that provide fertile ground for job creation through smart policies, robust infrastructure, along with additional opportunities for attracting new businesses to a state, or expanding existing facilities.

Economic development has helped to position Utah as one of the most promising small population states for job opportunity. In 2014, 50,700 jobs were created and all industry sectors experienced growth. That job creation directly contributes to Utah’s very low unemployment rate of 3.4% and its robust 4% job growth.

Supporting Utah’s long-term job growth needs, education initiatives from Utah’s STEM Action Center have created a network of workforce development training programs in our public schools, helping accelerate STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education in the state.

“We’re hitting the economy from all angles,” said GOED Executive Director Val Hale. “Starting with education, we’re developing tomorrow’s workforce. With site-selection and planning we’re offering opportunities for smart growth, and we will always diligently work to improve development in our rural communities.”