Derek Miller: How Utah’s Economy Dominated the Decade
Utah became the New England Patriots of economic development victories. The gratitude heaped up on the state is almost an embarrassment of wealth, almost. From the depths of the Great Recession to the top of the economic mountain, Utah’s ancestry is the story of the decade.
The accolades and rankings are too numerous to list, but a recent sample is illustrative. Over the past 10 years, Utah has been named “Best State for Business” by Forbes magazine more times than any other state, six to be exact. And Utah has finished on the podium every 10 years, the only state to have won no less than a third place finish.
Utah was named a few days ago by Fox Business as the state with the best economic prospects. And days before that, the Wall Street Journal called Utah “America’s economic star,” noting that the secret to the state’s success is a simple strategy of staying focused on encouraging community development. business and job creation.
What Forbes and The Wall Street Journal understand is that the best way to provide opportunity, support individuals and families, and pay for whatever the public expects from government is to grow the economy. It’s called free enterprise and it works. Utah is proof of that.
Besides being the best place for business, the fastest job creation, the most diverse economy, and the brightest economic outlook, Utah is also the place with the best upward mobility, the Highest rate of volunteering and ranks among the healthiest and happiest states. Combined with an unmatched quality of life and you have, to sum it up in one word: prosperity.
And what a prosperous decade that has been. So let’s stop briefly to enjoy the moment, then do what the Utahns do best and move on. Most importantly, let’s move on with our focus on how we can maintain this prosperity for decades to come.
Continue to focus on efforts to improve community prosperity through continued regulatory reform, avoid over-taxation, and provide assistance to rural communities grappling with rising unemployment and shrinking populations.
Let’s invest in education by increasing funding per student to recruit the best teachers and improve student outcomes. The correlation between education, a talented workforce, and economic prosperity is direct and powerful. The subjects taught in our schools are also of crucial importance, with an emphasis on STEM for every student and IT in every classroom.
Let’s keep an eye out for the challenges of being one of the fastest growing states in the country. Projections show that population growth trends will bring an additional 1.5 million Utahns over the next two decades. This growth will change all major industries. It will also put a strain on infrastructure and the environment. The business community will need workplace programs to meet the needs of employees in the areas of diversity, mental health, child care and the gender wage gap.
Governments, both local and state, will need strong policies to address the growing housing affordability crisis, increasing homelessness, multimodal mobility and environmental stewardship. .
The economy will always be fluctuating and Utah will never be immune to national and global trends. But the need to foster prosperity is constant and lasting. With Utah at the top and the competition increasing, let’s stay focused to stay on top.
Derek Miller is the President and CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber.