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CNBC ranks Utah No. 1 state for business

Hans Koepsell, Deseret News

CNBC ranks Utah No. 1 state for business

By Cosette Jarrett, KSL.com Contributor | Posted - Mar. 10, 2017 at 12:30 p.m.



This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.

SALT LAKE CITY — In 2016, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and CNBC ranked Utah as the No. 1 state in the nation for business.

States were assessed on more than 60 measures of competitiveness by a broad and diverse array of business and policy experts, official government sources and the CNBC Global CFO Council.

Utah’s No. 1 ranking is not a surprise given its long history of high-tech innovation that harkens back to WordPerfect, Novell, Ancestry.com, Omniture, Evans & Sutherland and other famous tech companies launched by Utah natives.

As the internet boomed at the turn of the 21st century, new Utah-based tech companies blossomed, blanketing the Wasatch Front from Utah County to Weber County. Nicknamed the “Silicon Slopes,” this area’s reputation is fast approaching that of Silicon Valley as a high-tech hotbed of growth and innovation.

Currently, there are over 4,338 tech companies operating in Utah and more than 53,000 active job positions. According to Utah.gov, 8.6 percent of Utah’s workforce is employed by a tech organization with payrolls accounting for 14.3 percent of Utah resident income.

Utah competes favorably when compared with rival locations like Boston, New York, Seattle or Silicon Valley. Utah's low tax rate of 6.69 percent; affordable real estate; highly educated and motivated talent pools from the University of Utah, Utah State and Brigham Young University, and a business-friendly environment make Utah a top pick for tech organizations.

Utah’s affordable real estate and world-class outdoor recreation is also a strong draw for businesses looking to lure out-of-state talent — and a big incentive for local talent to stay. A home in Utah averages five times the size of one in San Francisco or New York at a fraction of the cost.

Utah’s exceptional university programs that feed directly into the local workforce are enticing as well. These programs have proven track records, giving birth to the careers of tech-giants like Jim Clark, founder of Silicon Graphics, Inc.; John Warnock, a co-founder of Adobe; Alan Ashton, co-founder of WordPerfect and Edwin Catmull, co-founder of Pixar.

BYU was the first university in the U.S. to gain official accreditation for its information technology programs in 2008 and continues to maintain its leading edge in partnerships with organizations like Special Interest Group for Information Technology Education.

As a sign of Utah’s core commitment to technological growth, in 2015, state legislators approved $18.5 million to support research teams at Utah State University and the University of Utah and an additional $2.54 million was set aside for technology outreach and innovation.

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Gary Lunt, a tech entrepreneur and founder of BYU’s IT program, believes that while most BYU graduates use their skills to benefit existing companies, about 10 percent launch their own tech businesses. In addition to strong technical expertise, successful entrepreneurs must take calculated risks and learn how to lead a company — something not often taught in IT departments.

Incubation centers, such as The Startup Building in Provo, are where many entrepreneurs network, collaborate and gain skills in low-cost environments. In addition to mentoring, incubation centers offer office and work stations, meeting rooms and special event spaces.

Adam Legas, Utah native and founder of electrolyte supplement company Nanohydr8, credits the success of a new program called the “Lean Startup Model” for helping startups like his validate their business models and potential before expending a lot of time, money and energy on a bad idea.

Using this model, entrepreneurs brainstorm, conduct market research, perform competition checks, receive potential client feedback and gather theoretical insights. After an analysis phase, business plans for products and services with the highest potential for success are greenlit, leaving the rest on the drawing table.

Utah’s support of incubation centers, low tax rate, affordable real estate, deep talent pools and business-friendly environment promote the growth that is now gaining national attention.

Watch out Silicon Valley. Silicon Slopes has arrived.


Cosette Jarrett

About the Author: Cosette Jarrett

Cosette is a freelance writer and remote worker specializing in topics surrounding the tech and lifestyle fields. She is a University of Utah graduate with a BA from the Department of Communications.

Gary Lunt, a tech entrepreneur and founder of BYU’s IT program, believes that while most BYU graduates use their skills to benefit existing companies, about 10 percent launch their own tech businesses. In addition to strong technical expertise, successful entrepreneurs must take calculated risks and learn how to lead a company — something not often taught in IT departments.

Incubation centers, such as The Startup Building in Provo, are where many entrepreneurs network, collaborate and gain skills in low-cost environments. In addition to mentoring, incubation centers offer office and work stations, meeting rooms and special event spaces.

Adam Legas, Utah native and founder of electrolyte supplement company Nanohydr8, credits the success of a new program called the “Lean Startup Model” for helping startups like his validate their business models and potential before expending a lot of time, money and energy on a bad idea.

Using this model, entrepreneurs brainstorm, conduct market research, perform competition checks, receive potential client feedback and gather theoretical insights. After an analysis phase, business plans for products and services with the highest potential for success are greenlit, leaving the rest on the drawing table.

Utah’s support of incubation centers, low tax rate, affordable real estate, deep talent pools and business-friendly environment promote the growth that is now gaining national attention.

Watch out Silicon Valley. Silicon Slopes has arrived.


![Cosette Jarrett](http://img.ksl.com/slc/2585/258576/25857651\.jpg?filter=ksl/65x65)
About the Author: Cosette Jarrett ---------------------------------

Cosette is a freelance writer and remote worker specializing in topics surrounding the tech and lifestyle fields. She is a University of Utah graduate with a BA from the Department of Communications.

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