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.
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.