Utah: Garnering Attention for Pro-Business Reputation
Mary Lou Byrd (Dec/Jan 10)
Utah has been basking in the glow of accolades from several studies spotlighting its business-friendly environment. The state's ability to attract new companies and encourage expansion of existing businesses over the past year shows its resilience to the most severe economic problems that are plaguing some states.
The state came in third in Forbes' Best States for Business report and was ranked second in the Pollina Corporate Real Estate's Top Pro-Business States for 2009. According to the latter report, Utah should serve as a model for the rest of the country in being business-friendly and creating a pro-business environment.
While it has felt the effects of the recession - its unemployment rate of 6.5 percent in October 2009 demonstrates this point - Utah has fared well compared to many. "Utah continues to maintain a AAA bond rating, the state tax rate remains low, and the legislature has been prudent in spending," says Spencer Eccles, executive director of the Governor's Office of Economic Development. "The state takes its responsibility very seriously to foster a broad-based, safe, and solid economic environment."
The state is also forging ahead in its quest for renewable energy manufacturers, and the Utah legislature passed two key pieces of legislation to that end. The Renewable Energy Development Incentive will provide financial incentives to manufacturers in this industry who locate in Utah. The Utah Generated Energy Electricity Network Authority will oversee and develop "transmission corridors for the energy created from renewable energy production sites to get this energy to consumers," according to a statement from Governor's Office of Economic Development.
Several recent projects will be bringing thousands of jobs to the state. Goldman Sach's expansion in Salt Lake City is expected to create about 1,000 positions by the end of 2010. The company, which originally planned on creating about 375 jobs, has added to that number now that the state's Business Development Board sweetened its package of financial incentives with an additional $47.3 million in funding. Edwards Lifesciences Corporation is expanding its Draper facility, creating up to 1,000 new jobs in manufacturing, business, and engineering; the company, which current employs 225 in Utah, is a leader in the science of heart valves and hemodynamic monitoring. Also in Draper, online auction leader eBay will add 450 additional jobs at its operations center.