Come Thrive In The Silicon Slopes
A few years ago, a developer from Silicon Valley reached out and asked if I was hiring. When I asked why, he explained that he was sick of the commute, the stress, and the culture of over-working. He wanted to get out of California. He had seen Utah, and he loved it. I offered him a job, and he’s still with my company five years later.
His story isn’t uncommon. When I graduated from college, HP offered me a great job in Palo Alto. But once I factored in the cost of living and having to give up Utah’s great outdoors, it didn’t seem worth it. Many people are convinced Silicon Valley is the only place to get ahead in tech, so they suffer through the long commutes, crowded cities and monthly rent that costs more than my first car. In reality, Utah offers similar career opportunities in tech but a better work-life balance.
You might be asking yourself: Since when is Utah a tech hub? Do they even have internet access? Isn’t that where the Mormons live?
Utah is actually an economic powerhouse. We had the strongest job growth in the country last year, and have been ranked as a Forbes top state for business five times in the last 10 years. People are moving here in record numbers, and they’re moving to stay. Almost 114,000 new people moved to Utah in 2018, and analysts are confident that population and economic growth are not slowing down in 2019. It’s a win-win for companies looking to recruit and for employees looking for great jobs.
Utah’s growing tech scene is a huge reason for this economic strength. A Cushman & Wakefield report found that two of the top 25 tech-centric cities in North America were in Utah. Salt Lake City and Provo actually grew faster than more commonly-known, up-and-coming tech hubs like Austin and Washington D.C. In fact, many promising start-ups are based here, such as Airin.ai, which helps companies build private AI expert systems, and Ancestry.com, creators of the popular AncestryDNA test. Additionally, California-born giants like Facebook, Adobe, and Google have all committed to building infrastructure in Utah.
It certainly doesn’t hurt that Utah has massive property and sales tax incentives designed to attract data centers, multiple excellent colleges filled with tech-savvy entrepreneurs, and several of the IRS’s Opportunity Zones—geographically-tied tax break zones designed to lure investors (the same designation Amazon planned for its now-canceled New York City HQ2 campus).
All of those perks are great for an up and coming company, but what truly allows start-ups in Utah to thrive is the people. Hiring the right employees is everything to a growing business, and Utah offers a highly educated, technically skilled workforce with an appetite for entrepreneurial ventures. Beyond being highly qualified, Utah’s businesses and employees both tend to place real value on a healthy work-life balance. From an HR perspective, this translates to more productive, happier employees who are less prone to burnout. Remember the developer I mentioned earlier who wanted a better work-life balance? He’s not the only developer I’ve hired who moved to Utah for the work-life balance. Utah’s talent pool keeps growing, thanks in part to smart, capable, out-of-state talent drawn to the great jobs that can be had alongside a great standard of living.
One of the big draws for both recruiting and retention is Utah’s great outdoors. The entire state is picturesque, graced with gorgeous mountains, lakes, and rivers. In under 30 minutes, I can leave work and be climbing at a crag, skiing, mountain biking, or waterskiing. Does any other tech hub offer such quick access to so much adventure?
Here in the Silicon Slopes, we’re building a tech hub where work and life can truly be balanced, set against the beautiful backdrop of the Rocky Mountains and the Great Salt Lake. My optimism about this place is well founded in the belief of its unique values and assets. And if you believe in it too, consider starting your business in Utah.
Written by Brett Derricott | Founder | Built For Teams