Utah ranked top pro-business state by Pollina three years running

Thursday, July 17th, 2014

In its eleventh year, the Pollina Corporate Top 10 Pro-Business Study for 2014 has listed Utah as the top state for business for the third year in a row. Again, Utah stands out above the rest of the states as “a symbol of economic growth that other states should emulate,” according to Brent Pollina VP of Park Ridge, Illinois-based Pollina Corporate Real Estate and co-author of the 2014 study.

“Under Governor Gary Herbert’s leadership, Utah has held the top position for the third year in a row. In 2005, Utah ranked #23 and by 2012 it ranked #1 moving up in rank 22 places in only seven years,” he explains. “Utah is a great example of what enlightened and motivated political leadership can accomplish with a solid plan. Like the early Utah pioneers, the recent political leaders of Utah have relied on their own ‘industry’ to prosper.”

Through efforts by Gov. Herbert, the Economic Development Corporation of Utah and the Salt Lake Chamber–both on their own and collectively–the focus has been to make Utah an environment where business and the economy can thrive. A few things that make Utah so great business include a stable regulatory environment, low unemployment, ease of starting a business, low operation costs, a well-educated workforce and, of course, the great quality of life our state offers.

In Utah’s report card from the Pollina study, Utah earned an A grade in various categories, such as unemployment rate, high school completion, right-to-work, workers compensation, corporate tax index, business inventory tax, property tax, regulatory and litigation environments, cost of electricity, as well as marketing/website/response to new and existing employers in state education. Utah also had a strong showing in overall tax environment.

The categories where Utah could improve include average teachers compensation, incentives and funding per college student.

“A handful of states have shown exemplary leadership in growing their economies and employment base while countering these trends by improving their business environment, adding new companies and growing existing companies,” said Dr. Ron Pollina, an economist and corporate relocation expert. “These states have broken the bonds that hold others back and positioned themselves for success today, tomorrow and the remainder of the decade, which is a remarkable achievement in the aftermath of the Great Recession.”

The Pollina Corporate study, a joint endeavor with the American Economic Development Institute, “draws attenttion to those states with political leaders who have a strategic plan that works as well as states that need help.” The study examines 32 factors relative to state efforts to be pro-business and has become recognized as the “Gold Standard” for evaluating states. It is the most comprehensive and impartial examination (with no advertising) of states available.

To have Utah stay on top of this prestigious list for three years in a row means something special is going on in the Beehive State that spells good things for business, our economy and our community.


Utah, a top overall performer in Enterprising States

Thursday, June 19th, 2014

It’s no secret that Utah is one of the top-performing states in the country. The most recent accolades come from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Enterprising States report, which indicates that Utah is the top overall performer for 2014.

In Enterprising States, Utah landed in the top six in each of the five policy categories and ranked 3rd in overall economic performance, making it the only state to finish in the top 10 on all six lists.

To quote the Enterprising States report:

Utah’s economy remained stronger than those of most other states during 2013. According to Utah’s Workforce Research and Analysis Division of the Department of Workforce Services, one major driver of this strength is the state’s robust mixture and diversity of industries. Utah’s economy has been consistently ranked as one of the nation’s most diverse (4th for 2012 data) with manufacturing in the northern Wasatch Front, a varied services sector in Salt Lake County, the tech hub in Provo-Orem, mining/oil and gas in the eastern region, and leisure and hospitality in Summit County and in south-southeastern Utah.

Utah ranked particularly well in short-term job growth (2nd), long-term job growth (3rd), gross state product growth (3rd), higher education degree output (3rd), STEM job growth (4th), business birthrate (4th), and in the top five in all of the export categories, which is a pleasant surprise considering Utah is a land-locked state.

The Enterprising States report was released at the Small Business Summit in Washington, D.C., earlier this month. The report takes an in-depth look at the priorities, policies and programs of the 50 states that are vital for job growth and economic prosperity. Each state is evaluated and ranked for its overall job growth and economic performance and its performance across five policy areas:

  • Exports and international trade
  • Technology and entrepreneurship
  • Business climate
  • Talent pipeline
  • Infrastructure

This year’s study related those policies and practices to the need for collaboration between education, workforce development, and economic development to combat the nation’s growing skills gap, the report stated.

Utah tops Small Business Friendliness Survey again

Thursday, June 12th, 2014

For the second year in a row, Utah has been named the most small business-friendly state in the country in the Small Business Friendliness Survey conducted by Thumbtack.com in partnership with the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

“After a two-month survey of thousands of small business owners nationwide, Utah has emerged as the top state for business friendliness once again,” says Jon Lieber, Chief Economist of Thumbtack. “Creating a business climate that is welcoming to small, dynamic businesses is more important than ever, and for small businesses looking for an educated workforce and a welcoming environment, Utah is a great place to locate.”

In the survey’s third year, Utah improved almost all of its scores in the different categories to earn an A+ in nine of the 11 categories, which include: overall friendliness, ease of starting a business, ease of hiring, regulations, employment, labor and hiring, tax code, licensing, environmental, and zoning. Utah tied with Idaho for the most A+ grades, but fared better in ease of hiring. The lowest grade Utah received was a B+ in visibility of training and networking programs, which the state ranked 14th in, so it’s still better than most states. Salt Lake City, in particular, also performed well in the survey as the friendliest city west of Texas.

One of the key findings for Utah from the survey was that the small businesses in Utah were the most optimistic about the outlook for their state economy, and the 6th most optimistic about the economy on the national scale. The survey also found that “small businesses reported improvement from 2013 both in the ease of hiring and hiring regulations, but training programs continue to be a relative weak spot for the state.”

Just because the training programs may not be well-known doesn’t mean they aren’t there. Programs through the Small Business Administration and those like the Chamber’s Women’s Business Center can be great resources for those wanting to start a small business by providing training, consulting, access to capital and grants, and much more. The objective of the Utah Small Business Coalition to bring more awareness to the number of organizations offering tools and resources for small business in Utah as well.

The full survey results can be seen here and include full sets of rankings for states and cities going back three years, along with dozens of easily searchable quotes from Utah small businesses.

The Small Business Friendliness Survey draws upon data from over 12,000 small business owners, providing new insights into state and local business environments across the nation. The Thumbtack.com Small Business Friendliness Survey is the largest survey of its kind and is the only survey to obtain data from an extensive, nationwide sample of small business owners themselves to determine the most business-friendly locations. The top rated states overall were Utah, Idaho, Texas, Virginia and Louisiana. The lowest rated were Rhode Island, Illinois, California, Connecticut and New Jersey.

Utah named Best State for Entrepreneurs

Tuesday, August 27th, 2013

Ask anyone in Utah and they will tell you that the entrepreneurial spirit here runs strong. Now there’s even more validation to that fact.

A new survey by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and Thumbtack reveals that Utah is the best state for entrepreneurs (as reported by Entrepreneur). Let’s add this to Utah’s growing list of accolades, the most recent of which includes Forbes’ Best State for Business three years in a row and Pollina’s top Pro Business state for the second year.

Thumbtack calls Utah the “friendliest state for small business.” This is largely thanks to Utah’s stable and low regulatory climate. With straightforward business laws, entrepreneurs are able to better focus on their business rather than have to constantly jump through legal hoops. Utah is an easy state to start a business and to make it grow.

Though Utah’s population is largely concentrated along the Wasatch Front corridor, there are a few online resources that help those from more remote parts of the state start up a business and stay connected. For example, we have Business Resource Centers, OneStop Business Registration, services available from entrepreneurial associations like Grow Utah Ventures.

The Salt Lake Chamber’s Women’s Business Center is a great resource for entrepreneurs as well, providing free training and counseling.

The Ewing Marion Akuffman Foundation and Thumbtack surveyed 7,766 small businesses on 16 different categories. Other states who made the best states for entrepreneurs list include Alabama, New Hampshire, Idaho and Kansas.

Pollina ranks Utah as top Pro-Business State again

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013

Utah just keeps raking in top rankings when it comes to our business environment.

Pollina Corporate Real Estate recently released its Ten Pro Business States for 2013 list, which is based on independent research by the firm. For the second year in a row, Utah earned the top spot. Forbes also ranked Utah as the Best State for Business for three years a row in January.

Brent Pollina, vice president of Park Ridge, Ill.-based Pollina Corporate Real Estate and co-author of the tenth annual study, said, “America’s most pro-business state for the second consecutive year and again making it the brightest star on the American Flag.  Utah is a symbol of economic growth and prosperity that other states should emulate.”

Thanks to investments in transportation and infrastructure, Utah is attractive to companies wanting to expand their operations or for entrepreneurs looking to start a business.

The Pollina Top Ten study is considered a “Gold Standard” for evaluating states. The research identifies states with exemplary pro-business policies that counteract the effects of economic instability. The authors of the study point to Utah as a guidepost, not only for other state governments, but also for the federal government. The study also indicates how well each state has or has not positioned itself to retain and create jobs as well as sustain America’s middle class.

You can read the full report by CLICKING HERE.


Education impacts Utah’s business rankings

Wednesday, July 10th, 2013

A top five ranking among America’s best states for business is generally something to celebrate. Unless you’ve dropped from second place a year ago.

CNBC released its rankings today and Utah finds itself tied for fifth with Virginia; the commonwealth had claimed the top spot in the ranking three times since 2006. South Dakota claimed the top spot for 2013.

Business is tied to education
The Beehive State’s overall ranking was hurt by its 39th overall ranking in education. This is not a new issue to the business community; the warning signs are clear:

- We have a rapidly diversifying population that requires a new approach to education.
- We have lower test scores than states with similar ethnic/minority diversity, education levels of parents and student poverty levels.
- One out of every four high school freshman will not graduate.

All that comes as we rank 32nd  among states in public education spending per $1,000 of personal income.

We used to do more with less. Now we just do less.

On the same page
Utah’s secret sauce is our ability to work together to solve problems. Through the Prosperity 2020 movement, the business community, has called for greater innovation, investment, accountability and collaboration in education. Gov. Gary Herbert and the Utah Legislature have made education a priority by setting goals to have 66 percent of all Utah adults hold a college degree or skilled trade certificate, and for 90 percent of all elementary school students to be proficient in reading and mathematics by the end of the decade.

With the governor, the Legislature, educators and the business community driving toward the same, well-defined, challenging goals, we can make a significant improvement.

Silver lining
The good news is Utah still scored very high in business friendliness thanks to our regulatory environment and five percent corporate and individual tax rates.

We have rightfully touted ourselves as a great place to do business. We rank very high in many rankings like this. We’re still Forbes Magazine’s Best State for Business and Careers– a title we’ve held for three years in a row.

But just like the road to enduring prosperity, if we want to claim the title as the Top State for Business, it starts with education.

You can read the CNBC article here and find complete rankings here.


Some of the happiest workers are in SLC

Thursday, June 27th, 2013

Eight hours a day. Five days a week. That’s the typical work week for many Americans in the full-time job world. What these numbers don’t say is how much people enjoy their jobs.

Get this: Salt Lake City has been listed as one of the top five cities with the happiest workers in the country. Employees gave companies in the city top marks for providing opportunities for advancement and help maintaining a good work-life balance, according to a new survey from the U.S. Department of Labor.

The survey indicates that location may play a role in whether workers are happy or not.  The survey factored in how happy workers are with their salary, their bosses and the local job outlook.

And Utah’s outlook just keeps looking better, thanks to the most recent jobs report indicating another decrease in unemployment. Utah is now looking at a 4.6 percent unemployment rate and a 2.6 job growth rate.

Other cities on the list are San Jose, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, D.C.

Utah ranked top economic outlook & performance in Rich States, Poor States study

Friday, May 24th, 2013

The nation is stuck in a slow recovery but Utah’s economic status is one to envy. According to many reports Utah is one of the top economic performers in the country, and also has the best outlook of the bunch. All of this despite policies from the federal government that actually hinder economic growth.

The sixth edition of the Rich States, Poor States economic competitiveness study, released by the American Legislative Exchange Council, is the most recent to list Utah as having the Best Economic Outlook–for the sixth year in a row, no less.

Among the 15 important state policy variables from which the Economic Outlook rankings were deduced, Utah ranked in the top spot in the Estate/Inheritance Tax Levy, State Minimum Wage, and as a Right-to-Work State. Other variables where Utah ranked in the top ten include Personal Income Tax Progressiveness (2), Top marginal Corporate Income Tax Rate (8), State Liability System Survey (9), and Average Workers’ Compensation Costs (6). The lowest ranking Utah received was 31st in Sales Tax Burden.

Seven out of 15 in the top 10 isn’t bad!

As far as economic performance goes, Utah ranked third on the list behind Texas and Nevada. Economic Performance was ranked on a ten-year timeline in three categories that are highly influenced by state policy: State Gross Domestic Product, Absolute Domestic Migration and Non-Farm Payroll Employment.

The combined economic outlook and performance rankings gives Utah an overall number one score.

Each state wants to be economically competitive and Utah is doing quite well, thanks to a business-minded Legislature and governor, and an increased focus on education to improve economic prosperity.

“I want to thank the authors of Rich States, Poor States and ALEC for providing policymakers and the public with this valuable resource,” said Utah Sen. Pres. Wayne Niederhauser.There is no question that states like Utah are reaping the benefits of sound fiscal policy. It is clear that limited regulation, low taxes, low debt and balanced budgets create the best environment for business, investment and jobs.”

Rich States, Poor States is an annual economic competitiveness study authored by Dr. Arthur Laffer, Stephen Moore of the Wall Street Journal, and Jonathan Williams, Director of the Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force at the American Legislative Exchange Council. This study “reviews fiscal policies that contribute to economic growth compared to policies that detract from such growth.”

Salt Lake County, a “Best to Invest” Area

Wednesday, May 15th, 2013

Salt Lake County Economic Development is being called one of the nation’s top performers in supporting innovation and entrepreneurship in the community by the May 2013 edition of Site Selection Magazine.

The magazine says Salt Lake County is one of the areas “Best to Invest” in the nation for 2013. They say the “Best to Invest” organizations in the U.S. all demonstrated a resiliency to bounce back from previous economic setbacks.

“In 2012, the top-performing economic development organizations in America all possessed this one chief characteristic: They threw out the mold for what worked yesterday and rewrote the rule book for their own industrial future,” the magazine articles said.

When the recession hit, Utah wasn’t as adversely affected as other states. Since then, Utah has emerged has one of the strongest economies in the nation with one of the lowest unemployment rates.

For 2012, Utah has $994 million in capital investment and 6,993 new jobs, ranking the state as one of the strongest local economies in the country.

“We have created an environment that is friendly to business and conducive for growth,” said Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams in the article. “We have a large multi-lingual and highly educated work force, along with a population that is internationally experienced. We have affordable energy and a great transportation network of air, rail and highways. And our tax structure is stable, predictable and friendly for business.”

The Salt Lake Area is growing and becoming a major tech center with big investments from Adobe, eBay, Goldman Sachs and Boeing.

Salt Lake County Economic Development’s recently retired director Dale Carpenter credits the region’s extraordinarily productive workforce, citizens and elected officials’ support of economic development best practices.

Other economic development organizations recognized in Site Selection Magazine in the “Best to Invest” national group include Austin Chamber of Commerce (Tex.), Baton Rouge Area Chamber (La.), The Upstate Alliance (Greenville-Spartanburg, S.C.), Greater Houston Partnership (Tex.), Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce (Ga.), Mobile Chamber of Commerce (Ala.), Pittsburgh Regional Alliance (Penn.), The Siouxland Initiative (Iowa), Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance, and Wayne County Economic Development Growth Engine (Mich.).

The top performers were evaluated by the amount of jobs, capital investment, jobs per capita, investment per capita, creativity of economic development strategy, depth and breadth of project activity, ability to generate breakthrough deals, and the ability to properly document the contributions of the economic development organization to actual results.

Also in their May edition, Site Selection ranked Utah ninth in the Top Ten Competitive States of 2012 and Best States: Living the Dream of 2012 lists.

Utah: A Premier Global Business Destination

Saturday, May 11th, 2013

Why is Utah such a hot spot for business? How come Forbes keeps has ranked the Beehive State the Best State for Business three years in a row? Look no further–this infographic explains it all.

Infographic source: http://business.utah.gov/whyutah/business-in-utah/