Utah’s Startup Culture Plays the Long Game

Pete CodellaNews

In a newly released ranking, Datafox, a business intelligence firm, named Salt Lake City the No. 12 best city to found a startup. Citing the need for a strong culture of growth and high standard of living, Datafox ranked Utah highly in availability of capital, affordability, success of early-stage companies and entrepreneurial culture.

Another important aspect highlighted: startups aren’t just created by 20 year-olds. As the study says, “A founder with a family can buy a large home with a backyard in Salt Lake, rather than an overpriced condo she’d struggle to afford in San Francisco.”

“Utah is the perfect example of striking the right work-life balance,” said Val Hale, executive director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED). “The balance looks different for everyone. Whether it’s recreation opportunities for the outdoor enthusiast or simply having a backyard that kids can safely play in, we can provide a strong sense of community for anyone.”

“Salt Lake City isn’t trying to be Silicon Valley,” said Anisha Sekar, a researcher on the Datafox study. “The natural beauty, strong community and low cost of living make it ideal for entrepreneurs who are looking to maintain a high quality of life as well as start a business. Salt Lake City ranked above average in three of the four early-stage startup metrics that we considered: startup density, growth potential and affordability. Between those, the city has an amazing combination of available capital, low cost of living and a culture of success.”

Beyond Salt Lake City, Utah has a large number of startups coming out of the Provo-Orem area. The Milken Institute agrees with some of Datafox’s findings, recently ranking the area as the No. 3 best-performing city in the country for high-tech industries. When looking at wage growth, job growth and high-tech GDP growth, greater Provo provides not only a world-class business environment but also abundant opportunities for a healthy and robust startup culture, emblematic of the overall entrepreneurial spirit across the state.

This spirit is made possible by a strong business environment. Utah’s recipe for success includes reasonable regulation, low tax rates, a diverse economy based in six strategic industry clusters and an unparalleled quality of life.

“Quality of life and economic strategy are not mutually exclusive,” said Ben Hart, managing director of urban and rural business services for GOED. “This is a large part of what makes Utah different. By supporting our entrepreneurs through collaboration among education, government and private industry we can ensure that they have a solid, long term foundation to build businesses and thrive.”