CNBC ranks Utah a top state for business

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Financial TV network CNBC has just released its annual "Top States for Business 2010," and Utah is ranked in the top 10.

CNBC's annual survey, just released Wednesday, has Utah tied for eighth place alongside Minnesota.

Each year, CNBC ranks all of the states using 10 different categories -- everything from cost of living, transportation, business friendliness, quality of life and quality of the workforce. These are all areas where Utah is strong.

Utah's Economic Profile
  • Population: 2,784,572
  • GDP (2008 per capita): $32,049
  • Unemployment rate (May 2010): 7.3 percent
  • Foreclosure rate (May 2010): One per 360 households
  • Budget gap (projected 2011): $700 million
  • Corporate tax rate: 5.0 percent

"We've demonstrated that we're producing some of the best and the brightest, and that's why we continue to get great companies here," said Spencer Eccles, executive director of the Governor's Office of Economic Development. "One of the first things they ask is, tell us about your workforce."

The news is making state economic leaders happy, and it reaffirms the strategy that Utah has taken in the ways it tries to grow its economy.

"It's always good to be on the top sheet of the results page. It shows that we're consistent," Eccles said. "This is not the only study that's been done on Utah where we're ended up in the top 10 or the top 5. It's great to see what we're doing is working."

Texas comes out on top this year, the second time in the past three years. Alaska ranks last.

America's Top States for Business 2010

CategoryUtah's rankTop state (overall rank)
Cost of Doing Business7Iowa( 6)
Workforce7Florida (28)
Quality of Life5Hawaii (48)
Economy23Texas (1)
Transportation32Texas (1)
Technology & Innovation25California (32)
Education48Massachusetts (5)
Business Friendliness10Delaware(42)
Access to Capital39California(32)
Cost of Living17Oklahoma (25), Tennessee (16)
<b>Overall<b>8 (tied)<b>Texas</b>

As for being No. 8, Eccles says it shows that the state's strategy has been working.

Business organizations and publications conduct rankings like this often, and Utah gets high marks in most of them. State leaders use the material when recruiting businesses to move or expand here.

"We refer to those all the time. In fact, it's almost every two weeks we receive another accolade where we're a top 10 or top 5 in the nation," Eccles said.

In the last three years, Utah has been recognized as the best managed state in the nation and is No. 1 in volunteerism nationally.

"Those are things that matter to companies. When they're looking to relocate, they don't only want to know about workforce, but what's the quality of life, where are my kids going to go to school," Eccles said. "We have such a diverse geographical structure, it's a really great situation."

Utah actually dropped from No. 5 to No. 8 in CNBC's rankings from last year, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Larger states moved up in the rankings, which is an indicator that the national economic picture is improving.

The goal for Utah next year is to get back into the top 5.

Kiplinger Magazine is also giving kudos to Utah's capital city.

In its July issue, the magazine ranks the top 10 cities for the next decade. Salt Lake City came in fifth place.

The magazine says you can't beat the cost of living and doing business here. It also cites Utah's taxes and operating costs as well as proximity to four ski resorts.

Austin, Seattle, Washington D.C. and Boulder rounded out the top five.


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Keith McCord


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