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Forbes ranks Utah No. 1 for business

Published: 11/13/2014
By Megan Marsden Christensen, — It’s a good year to live in Utah. The Beehive State was recently ranked the No. 1 best place to be in business in 2014 by Forbes.

The ranking is based on 36 data points across six main areas, including business costs, labor supply, regulatory environment, economic climate, growth prospects and quality of life, according to Forbes.

Utah also has the highest household incomes, Forbes reported.

“Utah has a very pro-business climate, and companies benefit from energy costs that are 26% below the national average — third lowest in the nation,” Forbes staff writer Kurt Badenhausen wrote. “Utah’s economy expanded 2.4% a year over the past five years — fifth best in the U.S.”

Badenhausen called Utah a “technology hub,” reporting that just five states received more venture capital funding than Utah in the first three quarters of 2014, and the majority of the money in Utah is going toward tech startups near Salt Lake City and Provo.

Utah held first place during 2010, 2011 and 2012, but it dropped to third last year, according to Forbes.

Gov. Gary Herbert recently praised Utah’s business scene during a seminar in Rio de Janeiro, according to a press release.

During the seminar, which was hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce in partnership with the Rio de Janeiro Governor’s Office and the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development, Herbert highlighted Utah’s stable tax environment, diverse economy and skilled workforce.

“Our young, well-educated workforce is second to none,” Herbert said, according to the press release. “High tech firms can find the skilled employees they need and international businesses have access to world-class managerial skills. Now that Forbes has once again named 'Utah #1 for Business,' it underscores that we are not only open for business, we deliver what they need to succeed."

There are currently 188 foreign firms from 29 countries doing business in Utah, according to the press release. Rio de Janeiro Gov. Luiz Fernando Pezao said 12,000 native Brazilians and 30,000 fluent Portuguese speakers make Utah the most “Brazilian” state in America.

Among Utah’s many programs that help companies grow is the Economic Development Tax Increment Financing. EDTIF provides post-performance tax rebates to companies that pay new incremental taxes, makes significant capital investment in Utah and creates new, high-paying jobs, the press release said.

Another program, the Technology Commercialization and Innovation Program, supports the acceleration and commercialization of university and private-sector research and innovation to drive economic development and job creation.

“Companies that move to Utah soon discover that we make an effort to keep a close partnership with them,” said Val Hale, executive director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development.