Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Lincoln Day Essay Submission by Governor Gary R. Herbert

Utah is Still the Right Place
By Governor Gary R. Herbert


When leader Brigham Young first overlooked 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, nearly 168 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 three 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 reveals why.

Our unemployment rate has dropped from a high of 8.4 percent when I took office in 2009 to 3.5 percent today, the fourth-lowest in the nation. Utah’s job growth rate is 3.9  percent, almost double the national average of 2.2 percent. Over the past year, Utah has created nearly 51,000 jobs. Moreover, Utah has the fourth-most diverse economy in America.

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 IM Flash, Adobe and Oracle, among others.

We also are home to a burgeoning life sciences industry – a community highlighted by Merit Medical, Fresenius, Edwards Lifesciences and other multinational companies. And we have a skilled and bilingual workforce. Utahns speak more than 130 languages in commerce every day.

 Not surprisingly, our success is garnering national attention.

Forbes magazine has named Utah the “Best State for Business and Careers” for four of the past five years. Earlier this month, the  U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation recognized Utah in its “Enterprising States Report” for being the top overall performing state in the nation for the past two years. And the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation ranked Utah number one in 2014 for “Economic Dynamism.”

So what is Utah’s secret?

Absolutely nothing. We simply believe in the fundamentals that govern success and consistently do our best to execute them.

For example, we have low, competitive and consistent tax rates.

Utah collects the 44th lowest amount of revenue per capita in the nation. Of the 45 states that have corporate tax rates, Utah is tied for the third lowest. We haven’t raised the corporate tax rate in more than 15 years, which allows business owners to focus on creating jobs and expanding their bottom line rather than paying more taxes to expand the size of government.

Speaking of limited government, our state government is smaller today than it was in 2001, even though Utah has added more than over 700,000 new residents. In 2000, there was one employee for every 112 Utahns; today, that ratio is one state employee for every 146 Utahns.

Not only is Utah’s government smaller, it’s more efficient.

Utah offers more than 1,000 services online and we are adding four new services, on average, every month. In 2012, more than 31 million E-government transactions were processed through Utah.gov, saving residents and businesses approximately $46 million.

Regulatory reform is another area where Utah excels. We we have modified or eliminated nearly 400 onerous or unnecessary regulations at the state level, and we are now working with cities across the state to make their regulations more business-friendly.

In Utah, we also believe in living within our means. We save for a rainy day and avoid taking on unnecessary debt. In fact, Utah is one of only a handful of states to maintain a AAA bond rating, and we have done so for 22 consecutive years.

Simply put, there is no better place to live and do business than Utah. Our taxes are low, our entrepreneurial spirit high, and our skilled workforce is educated and highly motivated. We also have an enviable quality of life that is second to none.

Now, more than ever, Utah is the right place.

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