Utah Cities Rise to the Top in Milken and Harvard Rankings

Pete CodellaNews

In Utah’s ongoing battle for business supremacy, a recent report from the Milken Institute endorses Utah as the place to do business. Milken ranks Salt Lake City as number five and Provo-Orem as number two on its list of “Top 25 Best-Performing Large Cities.”

“Having two Utah cities recognized as ‘best performing’ in a study that takes into account the largest cities in the nation is a huge accomplishment,” said Spencer P. Eccles, executive director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development. “This accolade speaks to the hard work being done in the state to create a business friendly environment focused on recruiting and retaining top companies.”

Rankings for the study were based on data from both long- and short-term growth in jobs, wages, salaries and technology output.  Provo-Orem, Utah moved up five spots from last year’s ranking. This is in part due to the growing technology sector and high job growth rate. The technology sector in this area is supported by large companies like IM Flash, Ancestry.com and Adobe. Provo-Orem is one of three U.S. cities with Google Fiber, a superfast fiber-optic service.

Salt Lake City, ranked number five on Milken’s list, has a diverse, consistently growing economy with a positive outlook for the future. During 2012, Salt Lake added 2,600 professional, scientific and technical services jobs, a gain of more than 7 percent from the previous year.

The Milken institute rankings are reinforced by a study produced by researchers at Harvard University and the University of California at Berkeley. The study, The Equality of Opportunity Project, mapped the 10 best and 10 worst cities for economic mobility in the United States.  According to researchers, Salt Lake City is the top city for economic mobility.

The Equality of Opportunity Project measured the chance that someone born into the bottom fifth of income earners could reach the top fifth over the course of his or her lifetime. According to the study, there is an 11.5 percent chance that a child born in the bottom economic quintile in Salt Lake City could end up in the top economic quintile in his or her life. The fabled American Dream is more likely to be achieved in Salt Lake City than any other U.S. city.

One consistency between the two studies is the top rankings for cities in Texas, California, Washington and Utah. The West is maintaining a reputation as the place to be for technology and entrepreneurship. Combine the growth Utah is experiencing in the technology sector with the quality of life, strong workforce and low operating costs and it is easy to see why technology companies are seeing Utah as “the place” to do business.