Why Utah is the Place to Start a Business
When considering the best places to start a business, many people immediately think of Silicon Valley. However, entrepreneurial hubs like Silicon Slips in Lehi, UT seem to be popping up around the country. Here’s why so many entrepreneurs are saying “This is the place” to Utah.
The US economy has been conducive to startups and small businesses for a while now, however, Utah stands out as a state that is in especially good shape to help startups grow. Boasting a GDP growth rate of 3.7%, significantly above the nation’s average of 2.8%, Utah’s economic growth is noteworthy. According to an article in the Salt Lake Tribune, Utah also led the nation in job growth in 2018, adding around 50,000 jobs in one year — a growth rate of 3.3%. While more population-dense states like California did add more jobs in the year, the growth rate of Utah was the highest in the nation. Utah also boasts an unemployment rate of 3%, as compared to the nation’s 4%. Strong job growth suggests many opportunities for the unemployed to find jobs. All of this suggests that Utah’s economy is healthy and able to help grow startups and small businesses.
Utah boasts a low corporate tax rate, at just 4.95%, lowered from 5% in January 2018. This suggests that starting a business in Utah can be less costly than in other states. Additionally, the state has a large willing-and-able workforce, including a large bilingual population, thanks to the number of LDS missionaries that serve overseas. The local universities also churn out a good amount of educated, hungry workers. Growing companies would benefit from an educated, motivated workforce in Utah. Beyond the powerful workforce, Utah also boasts other unique opportunities to drive small business growth.
The startup scene (particularly tech) in the Silicon Slopes rivals the early stages of Silicon Valley. In fact, several notable companies have decided to open offices in Utah (think Facebook and Amazon), including some from Silicon Valley. Utah also boasts the nation’s fastest-growing tech employment. Provo, UT is making a name for itself in the tech industry over the last 7 years. Growing 65% from 2010 to 2017, Provo has increased its number of workers in tech significantly. Though Silicon Valley still rules the roost when it comes to tech, Utah is the one to watch for tech startups and has proved to be making strides to close the gap.
Beyond its similarities to Silicon Valley, the entrepreneurial community is thriving in the universities, including BYU’s Rollin’s Center and the University of Utah’s Lassonde Institute. Utah also has several prominent organizations that rally around startups, including Silicon Slopes, Utah Tech Council, Utah Women in Tech, Beehive Startups, and more. Add in the incubators/accelerators in the area and the local coworking spaces that foster startup growth and you’ve got yourself a recipe for success.
Beyond the formal organizations that drive growth in the ecosystem, there are also plenty of examples of entrepreneurial success in the area for entrepreneurs to look to. Skullcandy, Traeger, Podium, InsideSales, Pluralsight, and others have been and continue to be exemplars to companies in every field. Another noteworthy company local to Utah is Qualitrics, which just sold for a whopping $8 billion. Clearly, Utah is not lacking in inspiration.
When it comes to Venture Capital, Utah is not very well known and is often overlooked for its VC efforts. However, Utah ranks well for venture dollars raised per capita. Coming in at 6th in the nation, Utah averaged $353 in reported venture funding per person per year, from 2016 to 2018. While California controls about half of all venture funding, Utah, having a population 13x smaller, is doing well for itself when it comes to venture funding.
Quality of Life
Another huge bonus of living in Utah is that the cost of living is so low compared to many other states. In Utah, the cost of living is 35% cheaper than in California, overall. Additionally, Utah has little traffic due to a much smaller population. Less traffic means less time spent commuting, and more time spent with family and friends. Beyond the work-related benefits, Utah is a beautiful state, filled with plenty of things to do. From winter sports to hiking and fishing, there’s something for everyone. Utah’s unique desert environment also means that you can hike a mountain, and go to the sand dunes in one day. Utah is the perfect place to balance pleasure and work, without the traffic and crowding of many states.
Overall, Utah is a great place to start a business. With a steadily growing economy, amazing opportunities, and great quality of life, Utah is one of the best places to start or grow a company. What could your company gain by moving to Utah? Utah companies, what do you love about being here?