Is Utah the New California?
Things are looking up for businesses in Utah Valley, according to several entrepreneurs at a recent roundtable meeting sponsored by Utah Business magazine. Leaders of Agel Enterprises, Coldwell Banker Commercial (CBC), Economic Development Corporation Utah (EDCU), Fishbowl and IM Flash Technologies came together to discuss the benefits of doing business in Utah. Instead of just being seen as a place to go for skiing and recreation, Utah has become an attractive state for businesses to set up shop. Utah County, in particular, is turning into an economic hotspot for three main reasons: 1. Low Cost of Living. Homes, apartments and grocery stores are all much cheaper in Utah than in California or other states traditionally known for their powerhouse economies. This allows young talent to flow to the state and fuel innovation. Fishbowl CEO David Williams notes that, according to Forbes, Utah is the No. 1 state for business and careers. Also, Forbes named Provo the third-best city for starting a business in the United States. 2. Big Local Colleges. Utah has a plethora of colleges. The three biggest are Brigham Young University, University of Utah and Utah Valley University. Local companies are able to actively recruit top graduates from these three colleges. Also, they can offer internships to students to see if they would like to bring those students on as full-time employees later. This can be an effective cost-cutting strategy, especially as competition heats up. It lessens the risk of making poor hiring decisions, and it reduces a company’s workforce costs. 3. Business-Friendly Government Policies. Utah’s state, county and city governments do their best to keep businesses happy. For example, it’s much easier to run a business in Utah than in California because there are fewer punitive laws, according to Brandon Fugal, CBC’s executive vice president. Thanks in part to the 2002 Winter Olympics, the state has improved its highways and infrastructure so it can handle the new businesses and commuters. Many of Utah’s fast-growing companies have started within the past 10 years. The explosion in the number of tech-savvy entrepreneurs and employees is transforming Utah Valley into a potential competitor for California’s Silicon Valley. Could Utah be on the path to becoming the new California? We’ll have to wait and see. The full roundtable transcript will be published in the September issue of Utah Business magazine, so stay tuned for even more insights into Utah business.