Why Utah Is The Best State For Doing Business
Utah ranks number one in the US for job growth, enjoys consistently low unemployment rates, and a strong workforce. And small business is at the heart of this success. The US Small Business Administration reports that Utah is home to over 277,000 small businesses that make up 99.3 percent of Utah companies and 57.3 percent of total employees in the state. Here are four areas that have been fundamental to Utah’s economic success:
A Strong & Educated Workforce
“Nothing is more important to businesses than having access to a qualified workforce,” says Val Hale, executive director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development. “That is why so many companies choose to invest in education.” Any business will tell you that if they cannot find good, skilled people, then nothing else matters.
Utah’s public education systems, both K-12 and higher education, have a strong partnership with our business community. This partnership provides a consistent dialogue between educators and business leaders to identify gaps in our workforce skills and then develop a plan to fill those needs. This collaboration is evident is through the Talent Ready Utah initiative, which includes technical training for students through high school, so they graduate not only with a degree but with a high-wage, high-demand job, also.
Taxes & Regulation
Utah’s economy continues to benefit from our flat five percent personal and corporate tax rate, which is one of the lowest in the nation. Low taxes are important to small business but equally important is a stable tax rate. Utah small businesses have benefited from the predictability of the state’s flat tax throughout the 20 years since the rate was established.
Additionally, the Governor’s office, state legislature, and the Salt Lake Chamber are always looking at ways to evaluate and eliminate unnecessary regulations. In 2011, the state conducted one of the most thorough regulation reviews in the nation. This was partially due to a small business owner who wondered aloud why he could not fax or email his license renewal to the state agency, instead of mailing it. A closer inspection of the rule showed it was written in 1973. Since then, nearly 2,000 regulations have been modified or eliminated in favor of Utah businesses.
Incentivizing business creation and sustainable growth is key to Utah’s thriving small business ecosystem. Several state programs assist new and existing businesses: one is the business expansion and retention (BEAR) grants for small businesses in rural parts of the state. The Utah Science, Technology and Research (USTAR) initiative specifically assists start-up and early-stage tech companies, as well.
The state also offers financial incentives for business relocation and expansion. This incentive program is built on three pillars that make it both effective and sustainable: 1) the business expansion must be competitive, 2) the incentives must be post-performance, and 3) the incentive must be a tax rebate once the jobs have been created and the corporate taxes are paid. Most importantly, these incentives were previously only available to new companies relocating to Utah: they are now available to businesses already in Utah to help them grow at home.
You may have read recent headlines that trade is killing the US, that is not the case in Utah. Utah is a trade surplus state to the tune of $4 billion annually and has doubled its exports over the past decade with a goal to double exports again over the next ten years. This is a credit to the 3,500 plus companies that export, nearly 85 percent of which are small businesses.
Take, for example, Butcher’s Bunches, which makes handcrafted, all natural fruit preserves in Cache Valley. The jam is not only sold in Utah but in Asia, the UK, France, Australia, Canada, and Dubai. This global family company began selling in a farmer’s market in Park City. Tourists visiting Park City from around the world enjoyed the product so much that they began asking Liz Butcher, the owner, how they could buy her jam when they returned home.
Utah’s pioneering heritage is alive and well across the state, from Grouse Creek to Montezuma Creek. Our state and local governments are partnering with the business community to support small business owners who work every day to keep the American Dream alive for themselves, their families, and their employees.