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Utah will continue to be a destination for businesses because of a pro-business government, high quality of life, low utility costs and strong workforce, among other considerations, said Kurt Badenhausen, senior editor at Forbes magazine.
Badenhausen was the keynote speaker at Wednesday’s Salt Lake Housing Forecast, sponsored by the Salt Lake Board of Realtors.
The state has ranked first on Forbes’ “Best States for Business” list three years in a row, and has been in the top five in all the years the magazine has done the ranking.
“Utah is truly a model of fiscal and economic success,” Badenhausen said.
Though Virginia had a hold on the top spot for some time, he said Utah took a smaller hit during the recession because the state is positioned well to accommodate business. “Utah was incredibly resilient during the recession and emerged from it about as fast in better shape than any other state.”
Utah is the only state that ranks in the top 15 in the six main categories the magazine looks at to make its final list. Those categories are business costs, labor supply, regulatory environment, economic climate, growth prospects and quality of life.
He also praised the state’s education system, saying “the children of Utah are getting a better education at half the cost that they are in New York.” The state also needs to continue to devote significant resources to education as the population grows and demand for an educated workforce grows, he said.
High graduation rates are also key in making a state business friendly, he said. Texas is frequently lauded for low tax rates and a pro-business government, but has the lowest graduation rate in the country at 78.9 percent, which Badenhausen said will hurt them in the long run.
Strong entrepreneurial and business support, especially the University of Utah’s spin-offs, are also very attractive to business people looking at the state, he said.
Right-to-work laws and a pro-business regulatory environment add to the draw for business. Badenhausen said he has heard that companies are refusing to look at states without right-to-work laws.
“The lack of red tape and business-friendly climate is a tremendous advantage for entrepreneurs in the state,” he said.