Utah's success is gaining national attention

When leader Brigham Young first overlooked the majestic Salt Lake Valley at the end of the Mormon pioneers' trek west in 1847, he famously remarked: "This is the right place."

Now, 167 years later, Young's words still resonate—for a variety of reasons. Our population, much like the entire state, has blossomed like the rose, from a few thousand hardy pioneers to nearly 3 million people. And many more keep coming.

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert
Photo: Erik Ostling photography
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert

They come to put down roots, to take up skiing and to hike and bike our beautiful mountains and red rock canyons. They come for the Utah lifestyle, our clean cities, safe streets and neighborhoods. Additionally, people increasingly come to do business. A quick look at the numbers reveals why.

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Our unemployment rate has dropped from a high of 8.4 percent when I took office in 2009 to 3.6 percent today. Since November 2011, Utahhas created 103,000 jobs. Utah is the second-fastest growing state and has the second-fastest growing economy in the nation. Moreover, Utah has the fourth most diverse economy in America.

Everyone knows about California's famed Silicon Valley, but people are now becoming familiar with Utah's Silicon Slopes, the cluster of information technology and software-development firms along the Wasatch Front that is leading the world in innovative memory-process technology, thanks to IM Flash, Adobe and Oracle, among others.

We are also home to a burgeoning life sciences industry—a community highlighted by Merit Medical, Fresenius, Edwards Lifesciences and other multinational companies. And we have a skilled and bilingual workforce. To that point, our Utah residents speak more than 130 languages in commerce every day.

Not surprisingly, our success is garnering national attention.

Forbes magazine named Utah the "Best State for Business" for three consecutive years. Pollina Corporate Real Estate recognized Utah as the nation's Top Pro-Business State. Thumbtack.com and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation just acknowledged Utah as the top state for small-business entrepreneurs for the second consecutive year.

So what is Utah's secret?

Absolutely nothing. We simply believe in the fundamentals that govern business success and consistently do our best to execute them. For example, we have low, competitive and consistent tax rates.

Utah collects the 44th lowest amount of revenue per capita in the nation. Of the 45 states that have corporate tax rates, Utah is tied for the third lowest. We haven't raised the corporate tax rate in more than 15 years, which allows business owners to focus on creating jobs and expanding their bottom line rather than paying more taxes to expand the size of government.

Speaking of limited government, our state government is smaller today than it was in 2001, even though Utah has added more than 700,000 new residents. In 2000 there was one employee for every 112 Utahns; today that ratio is one state employee for every 143 Utahns.

"We haven't raised the corporate tax rate in more than 15 years, which allows business owners to focus on creating jobs and expanding their bottom line."

Utah offers more than 1,000 services online, and we are adding four new services, on average, every month. In 2012 more than 31 million e-government transactions were processed through Utah.gov, saving residents and businesses approximately $46 million.

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Regulatory reform is another area where Utah excels. We have modified or eliminated nearly 400 onerous or unnecessary regulations at the state level, and we are now working with cities across the state to make their regulations more business-friendly.

In Utah we also believe in living within our means. We save for a rainy day and avoid taking on unnecessary debt. In fact, Utah is one of only a handful of states to maintain a AAA bond rating.

Simply put, for anyone looking to expand their business or boost their bottom line, there is no better place to do it than Utah. Our taxes are low, our entrepreneurial spirit is high, and our skilled workforce is educated and highly motivated. We also have a pro-business and sensible regulatory climate second to none.

Utah is open and ready for business. Now, more than ever, Utah is still the right place.

By Utah Gov. Gary Herbert