Technology's new home located in 'Silicon Slopes,' Utah

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert
Source: State of Utah
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert

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

Today, more than 165 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.

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. And increasingly, they come to do business.

A quick look at the numbers shows why.

Since November 2011, Utah has created 63,600 jobs. Moreover, Utah's unemployment rate of 4.6 percent is far below the national average. We are growing jobs at 2.6 percent, nearly twice the national rate. This is why the world is taking notice.

Such numbers underscore the fact that Utah's economy is strong and getting stronger. Utah is one of the nation's leaders in rebounding from the Great Recession. With each new accolade, Utah's reputation as a safe haven for businesses looking to invest and expand is growing.

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Numerous publications and studies rank Utah as one of the top "best states for business" and most "fiscally fit." In the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's "Enterprising States" report, Utah ranks in the top five in every export category and was the only state to finish in the top 10 for all six metrics. Utah tops Governing magazine's list of the best managed states.

We aim not to dwell on accolades, however.

As governor, I enjoy the opportunity to talk about Utah's measurable business success. We have the seventh-fastest growing economy in the country, and more importantly, it is the sixth most diverse.

According to 24/7 Wall Street's analysis of data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, Utah is showing strong in a wide range of industries, from durable goods manufacturing and financial services to the high-tech sector. This diversity has helped us weather the downtown and come out of it with strong momentum.

Utah is also one of the fasting growing states in terms of population growth, and no state is more focused on preparing its growing work force to meet the talent demands of our thriving industries.

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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 Intel/Micron and IM Flash, and data analysis, thanks to Qualtrics and Adobe.

We also are home to a resilient and burgeoning life sciences industry—a community highlighted by Merit Medical, Fresenius, Edwards Lifesciences, Varian Medical Systems and other multinational companies that have found new levels of productivity in Utah.

More than 1,100 outdoor product companies call Utah home. Not only do they thrive in our business climate, they take advantage of close access to nature's best testing laboratories—the spectacular Wasatch and Uinta Mountains and the breathtaking red rock country of Southern Utah. From Enve Composites to Bluehouse Skis, Utah companies are making breakthrough products for biking, winter sports, water sports and more.

On the financial services front, we boast some of the nation's largest industrial loan companies, and Salt Lake City is home to the largest domestic office of Goldman Sachs outside of New York.

We have a healthy and growing aerospace and defense industry cluster bolstered by industry leaders such as Boeing, ATK, L-3 Communications and Exelis Aerostructures. The strength of this sector positions us well for exciting opportunities in unmanned aerial systems.

Utah's state government has demonstrated predictability and efficiency:

Our regulatory reform process resulted in the excising or amending of more than 350 regulations that were unnecessarily inhibiting growth.

Stability from the state's fiscal prudence enables the private sector to confidently risk growth capital and build its labor force. In fact, Pew States recently announced Utah is one of only four states to retain its AAA credit rating for the last 46 years, or ever since Standard & Poor's initiated the rating system.

Our tax policy takes a no-surprises approach. We haven't increased corporate taxes for 15 years.

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Finally, we are pushing to improve our educational efforts through increased investment in STEM education and other work-force-of-the-future initiatives.

In talking about Utah's success, I am not disparaging other states. Every state, including Utah, struggled during the economic meltdown. The recovery rate for each state has varied. I have every confidence that our country as a whole is regaining its footing.

My message to business leaders is clear: If you are looking to expand your business and boost the bottom line, there is no better place than Utah to do it. Our taxes are low, our entrepreneurial spirit high and our skilled work force is educated and highly motivated. We also have a pro-business and sensible regulatory climate that is second to none.

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

By Utah Gov. Gary R. Herbert.

Read more blogs from U.S. governors here.