July 2, 2012

Cover Story

Built to Lead

Perhaps no Utah governor in modern memory comes to the office with a broad...Read More

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GOED's Toolbox

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Derek B. Miller

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Welcome to Utah

Unprecedented Partnerships Make the State Best for Business and Careers

Gaylen Webb

July 2, 2012

In November, Forbes released its sixth annual look at the business climates of the 50 states. And like its 2010 review, Forbes picked Utah as the "Best State for Business and Careers."

Why? "No state can match the consistent performance of Utah. It is the only state that ranks among the top 15 states in each of the six main categories we rate the states on," says Forbes.

What factors make Utah the best state for business? Energy costs 31 percent below the national average; employment growth averaging 0.6 percent for the past five years (for the United States as a whole, job growth has averaged negative 0.6 percent since 2005); a tax burden among the 10 lowest; overall business costs that are 10 percent below the national average; and population growth that is one of the fastest in the country, providing a burgeoning workforce.

"Businesses are getting the message on Utah. Procter & Gamble, ITT, Home Depot and Boeing all announced expansions in Utah this year. The Goldman Sachs office in Salt Lake City is its second biggest in the Americas with more 1,000 employees and significant expansion expected over the next four years," Forbes adds.

Another factor that businesses outside the Beehive State are beginning to notice is the willingness of Utah's residents, government, business and civic leaders to work together—to collaborate and cooperate. It's Utah's "secret sauce," a phrase Spencer P. Eccles, Executive Director of the Governor's Office of Economic Development (GOED), uses to describe the unprecedented partnerships that enhance Utah's business-friendly environment.

Ian H. Solomon, U.S. Executive Director for The World Bank Group, tasted that "secret sauce" in January when he dined in Salt Lake City with government and business leaders representing organizations such as GOED, World Trade Center Utah, the Economic Development Corporation of Utah (EDCUtah), the Utah Fund of Funds and the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce.

"I am impressed with the level of collaboration of state, civic and business leaders in Utah and believe this is one of the principal reasons the Salt Lake Chamber was selected to host a World Bank Private Sector Liaison Office," says Solomon. "It is our hope that this partnership will make businesses in Utah and across the United States more competitive for World Bank procurement contracts, so they can create jobs here in the U.S. while helping the World Bank with its mission of fighting poverty in the developing world."

Commitment to Collaboration
The partnership between the Salt Lake Chamber and The World Bank Group is one example of the many unprecedented partnerships that make Utah so unique. World Trade Center Utah CEO Lew Cramer says if you boil the "sauce" down to its three key ingredients, you will find that it is made of collaboration, cooperation and communication—the three Cs—which are essential for leveraging public and private sector resources to advance the State's economy.

"Part of what makes Utah such an appealing place to do business is the fact that everyone interacts: elected officials, community and business leaders, organizations like the Chambers of Commerce, the Utah Science Technology and Research initiative (USTAR), the Utah Technology Council, the Utah Fund of Funds, the Utah Sports Commission, the Utah Alliance for Economic Development, EDCUtah, World Trade Center Utah, higher education, the Utah Cluster Acceleration Partnership and countless other entities," says Riley Cutler, Director of GOED's Outdoor Products Cluster. "There is no in-fighting, no fiefdoms, no turf wars—only a focus on building the economy."

That interaction is also what makes GOED successful. "We all work together," Cutler says. Communication and collaboration at GOED is a daily occurrence across the entire organization, which spans Business Development, International Trade and Diplomacy, Technology Commercialization and Innovation, Procurement Technical Assistance, Corporate Recruitment and Incentives, Rural Development, the Utah Broadband Project, Consumer Health Services (which manages the Utah Health Exchange portal), the Utah Office of Tourism and the Utah Film Commission.

"Everybody interacts. It is part of our ‘one-stop shop’ mentality," he explains.

For example, Cutler may encounter an outdoor business interested in relocating or expanding in the State. If the company is interested in export support, connections are made with GOED's Office of International Trade and Diplomacy and with World Trade Center Utah. If the company seeks assistance with government contract procurement, connections are made with GOED's Procurement Technical Assistance Center. If the company desires workforce training assistance, connections are with the Utah Department of Workforce Services and with Utah's institutions of higher education. If the company is interested in applying for one of Utah's economic development incentives, GOED's Corporate Recruitment and Incentives team gets involved.

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