How sweet it is! Utah, known as the Beehive State because its people are so industrious, proves its point with a convincing win in our 10th annual Top States for Business ranking.
In many ways, this is the culmination of a decade of hard work by the people and businesses of Utah, developing innovative industries, a skilled workforce and a critical mass of companies big and small that is now rivaling Silicon Valley.
It’s not surprising that unicorns like Qualtrics and InsideSales.com are emerging in Utah as venture capitalists flock to the state to invest in a wide variety of industries — from energy and software to medical device companies.
Lured by factors such as tax breaks, affordable real estate, an educated populace and a strong public-transit system, many iconic companies have set up home bases in the state. They are attracted to the pipeline of STEM workers from such schools as Brigham Young University and the University of Utah.
The Top States for Business scorecard tells the story. Utah blows past the competition, with 1,598 out of a possible 2,500 points. But even more impressive is the state’s all-around long-term performance. Never before in our 10 years of keeping score has a state finished in the top half in each of our 10 categories of competitiveness.
As always, we score all 50 states on more than 60 metrics across those 10 categories. Under our tried-and-true methodology, we assign a weight to each category based on how frequently the states use them in their sales pitches to business. The state with the highest overall point total takes the Top State title.
This year’s categories and point totals are:
- Workforce (400 points)
- Cost of Doing Business (350 points)
- Infrastructure (350 points)
- Economy (340 points)
- Quality of Life (325 points)
- Technology & Innovation (250 points)
- Education (200 points)
- Business Friendliness (160 points)
- Cost of Living (75 points)
- Access to Capital (50 points)
Utah’s win caps a success story that exemplifies the state’s industrious nature. It has always been a competitive state — this is Utah’s eighth top-five finish in 10 years. But four years ago, led by Republican Gov. Gary Herbert, the state set out to be a true champion.
“My goal is to accelerate private-sector job creation of 100,000 jobs in 1,000 days,” Herbert told legislators in his 2012 State of the State speech.
At the time, Utah was already outpacing the nation in recovering from the Great Recession. Even so, 80,000 Utahans remained out of work; creating the last 100,000 jobs took seven years.
But by the time Herbert’s thousand days were up, in October of 2014, Utah had not only added 100,000 jobs, it tacked on 9,000 more for good measure. The increase probably had little to do with any particular policy initiative by the governor, who primarily vowed to stay out of the way and let the economy do its thing. The economy certainly held up its end of the deal.