Utah Climbs The Ladder of Economic Stability

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Nicole Shepard, News Editor @NicoleEShepard


The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation named Utah the best-performing state in the 2013 Enterprising States report.


Utah ranked second in general job growth and third in job creation for the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. The job growth is bred from the states technology sector, which hires at double the rate of companies outside of the industry, according to the report.


“Retention and growth of a highly skilled talent pool is a crucial factor in sustaining Utah as a high-tech center,” the Foundation said in its report. “Utah is increasingly becoming one of the nation’s high-tech centers.”


Utah also ranked first in top 10 placements. The state placed within the top 10 of 18 different categories, including the state’s business policymaking, business birth rate and small business lending.


“Remarkably, Utah lands in the top 10 in each of the five policy area rankings and 3rd in overall economic performance,” the Foundation said, “the only state to finish in the top 10 on all six lists.”


The five areas are overall performance, exports, innovation and entrepreneurship, business climate, talent pipeline and infrastructure.


Due to Utah’s high ranking in business policymaking, Gov. Gary Herbert took third in the Foundation’s rankings of governors who’ve contributed in the expansion of their state’s job market. Herbert credits this victory to his “fierce focus on Utah’s economy” and his goal of creating 100,000 jobs in 1,000 days.  In late June, approximately halfway through his targeted timeline, Herbert announced that the state had added 63,000 news jobs.


“I always saw myself leaving Utah after graduation,” Michael Platt, engineering student, said, “to go looking for greener pastures, you know. But it looks like Utah is the greener pasture. So I guess I’ll stay here, at least until the economy picks up again.”


According to the Foundation’s report, Utah has highly cultivated soil to grow new businesses. Utah is considered the safest state for entrepreneurial ventures.  Between its efficient policymaking and long-term success rates, Utah’s well versed in fostering new businesses.


“The state is willing to invest in new business ventures, in a way that isn’t common outside of Utah,” Bill Wesley, Utah business analyst, said. “We have high expectations of our entrepreneurs and in turn they can have high expectations of us.”


Along with the state’s virtues, there are some vices recognized in the Foundation’s report.  Utah ranked 30th in the country for per capita income growth and 37th for job placement efficiency.


“There always seems to be a choice between job security and financial security,” Jordan Randall, business major, said. “It’s like you can’t have both here. Sure you’re going to get a job, but you might not ever get anywhere in it, you probably won’t be able to make the money that a guy in the same exact position makes in a different state. I think it’s better to just be as competitive as possible and try and fend for yourself in a state that has higher salaries.”


Regardless of the per capita income growth lagging behind Utah’s other achievements, students in Utah Valley planning to work within the STEM fields may be in the best location.


“Access to high-speed data connections helps support the high-tech industry in the Silicon Slopes,” the Foundation said in its report. “And Utah ranks 13th in broadband measures.”


This ranking of 13th was measured before Google announced bringing fiber connectivity to Provo.  Provo’s government officials are expecting another boom in the city’s economic growth with the addition of Google Fiber.


“Economic development is kind of a given,” said Provo Mayor John Curtis in an interview. “This spurs so much creativity and energy. [Google Fiber] ignites a community.”