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June 29, 2012

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  Economic Review  
Jeff Edwards President's Message
Provo-Orem #1, Ogden-Clearfield #6 Among Best Metros for Business

It's been a great week for accolades and rankings. Forbes magazine just released its 14th annual list of "The Best Places for Business and Careers" and the Provo-Orem metro tops the list, while the Ogden-Clearfield metro ranks 6th. Forbes noted that job growth in the Provo metro "was a robust 3%" in 2011 – third best in the U.S., while the area also enjoys the lowest violent crime rate in the nation and ranks 10th lowest overall for crime. Meanwhile, the population has doubled over the past two decades to 542,700.

As for the Ogden-Clearfield metro, Forbes says the area enjoys a cost of living 7.5% below the national average and median household incomes in the city "are a robust $60,625." To gauge the best places for business in the U.S., Forbes says it rates the 200 largest metro areas on a dozen factors using data from Moody's Analytics, the U.S. Census and Bert Sperling, who runs Sperling's BestPlaces. The methodology evaluates factors such as job metrics, costs, income growth, quality of life, education of the labor force and more.

Meanwhile, the Brookings Institution ranked Utah's three major metro areas among the 20 top communities nationwide in terms of the strength of their economic recoveries. See the Salt Lake Tribune story here.

And then, Business Insider just ranked Salt Lake City among the "15 Hottest American Cities of the Future."

Utah continues to shine as one of the best states for business and such publicity certain affirms that.

Today's Economic Review also includes links to many of the ED-related news stories from the past week. As always, if you have comments, suggestions or topics you'd like to see in the Economic Review, please contact us by clicking the "Comments" link on the bottom of this page. Enjoy!

Jeff Edwards

Jeff Edwards
President and CEO



Feature Story

Utah's Strong Broadband Infrastructure Attracts Businesses

Secure Customer Relations, Inc., formerly of Clovis, CA, moved its entire operation to Utah this month, creating approximately 98 new jobs in the Provo area. The high-speed fibre optic infrastructure in Provo is one of the factors that helped the company select Utah as its new home, according to a report in the The Business Journal.

"We move a lot of data and need high capacity," CEO Carter Beck told the Journal last week. His company specializes in appointment setting, client prospecting and other functions on behalf of the insurance industry.

The relocation of companies like Secure Customer Relations, Inc. to Utah reaffirms the conclusions of a Utah Broadband Advisory Council Report released last week by the Utah Broadband Project and the Governor's Office of Economic Development (GOED) -- that Utah is attracting businesses due to the state's exceptional level of high-speed internet access and communications infrastructure.

Findings and Recommendations
The report details the findings and recommendations of the Utah Broadband Advisory Council during its first year of meetings. The Utah Broadband Project formed the Council in June 2011 to convene key stakeholders to discuss the status of broadband adoption and deployment in the State of Utah.

Todd Brightwell, EDCUtah's senior vice president of business development, says the fact that most of Utah's populated areas are covered by some type of broadband service, combined with lower labor costs, has helped make the state a strategic location for national connectivity, especially for call centers, data centers and other high tech companies.

"Utah's public and private leaders have been visionary in collaborating to develop the state's broadband infrastructure and the result is certainly important to our economic development efforts. It gives the state a competitive advantage," Brightwell adds.

National Recognition
Utah has received national recognition for its extensive broadband infrastructure and high adoption rate. According to a 2011 report published by the U.S. Department of Commerce entitled Exploring the Digital Nation: Computer and Internet Use at Home, Utah ranked #1 in average home broadband adoption. In its most recent State of the Internet report, Akamai Technologies ranked Utah as having the fourth fastest Internet speeds in the nation, leading all western states.

Tara Thue, manager of the Utah Broadband Project, adds that Utah enjoys a greater level of connectivity than many other states with similar population densities and geography, largely due to the collaboration that exists between public and private entities. "We have found that many of these partnerships are unique to Utah and we are often asked to share these achievements with other states," she says.

Some examples of the public/private partnerships supporting the buildout of Utah's broadband infrastructure include work by the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT), which has facilitated the expansion of broadband infrastructure into rural areas by conducting cooperative fiber and conduit trades with broadband service providers. Further, UDOT has a best practice of laying fiber during road construction projects, where it makes sense.

Utah Educational Network
Another partnership involves Utah's broadband service providers and the Utah Education Network (UEN). These partners have worked together to obtain discounted rates for broadband connectivity to over 1,000 schools, colleges and libraries -- most with gigabit-speed connections.

The Utah Broadband Project is a joint effort between GOED, the Public Service Commission (PSC) and the Department of Technology Services' Automated Geographic Reference Center (AGRC) to develop a statewide map of available broadband services and a plan to increase broadband adoption and deployment in Utah.

The Project maintains Utah's interactive broadband availability map, and works with broadband providers to gather and verify data twice each year. The Utah Broadband Project has recently won awards, including a 2011 GovMark Council Award and the 2011 January Achievement Award from the Utah Product Management Council.

Broadband Access
The Utah Broadband Advisory Council is comprised of public and private entities and has met monthly to discuss how broadband access impacts education, libraries, economic development, public safety, health care and transportation, as well as rural and tribal areas. For each of these focus subjects, the Report highlights the discussions of the Council and provides specific recommendations for Governor Gary R. Herbert, the Utah State Legislature and other interested parties to consider.

GOED Executive Director Spencer P. Eccles says the formation of the Utah Broadband Advisory Council epitomizes Governor Gary Herbert's call for "unprecedented partnerships" and "is another example of the public and private sectors working together to find Utah solutions to Utah problems. The level of collaboration and coordination that the Council has generated will impact Utah's economy and quality of life for years to come," he continues.

Thue says the Council will continue to meet and its recommendations will be incorporated into a comprehensive state broadband plan that is projected to be released later this year by the Utah Broadband Project. Read more about the Utah Broadband Advisory Council here.

Calendar

July 19
Social Commerce Exchange 5:30-8:30 p.m. (Salt Lake Community College - Miller Campus, MFEC Room 101, 9750 South 300 West)

Aug. 14-15
Save the Date: 7th Annual Native American Summit (Sheraton Salt Lake City)

Sept. 5
Save the Date! Uintah County Energy Summit (Vernal)

Sept. 27
What's Goin' Down Up North -- Northern Utah Economic Summit (Utah State University Innovation Campus, 489 East 1650 North, North Logan)

Sept. 27
EDCUtah Annual Meeting (Grand America Hotel) 11 a.m. – 2 p.m., lunch provided. Call (801) 328-8824 now to secure a table for your organization.

Oct. 16-19
Technology Venture Development Executive Education Seminar (University of Utah)

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The EDCUtah Economic Review is a weekly publication of the Economic Development Corporation of Utah. It is distributed to EDCUtah partners and selected other government and civic organizations interested in Utah's economic development.

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In the News

Provo ranked best U.S. business city, Ogden 10th best
Provo, Utah, the home of Brigham Young University, displaced Raleigh, North Carolina, as the best U.S. city for business in a new ranking released on Wednesday. The City of Ogden ranked 10th in the report.
(Forbes) (Chicago Tribune)

Utah continues to take star turn, economically
Utah has once again been named an economic superstar. The state's three major metro areas rank among the 20 top communities nationwide in terms of the strength of their economic recoveries, according to a Brookings Institution report released Wednesday.
(Salt Lake Tribune)

Salt Lake among 'The 15 Hottest American Cities Of The Future'
Business Insider ranks Salt Lake City among the "15 Hottest American Cities of the Future," saying: "With its active healthy lifestyle, its beautiful mountainous surroundings, and its thriving job market, Salt Lake City, recently ranked One of The 10 Best Cities for College Grads, will continue to attract eager young college graduates."
(Business Insider)

Ogden-Hinckley Airport looks to future for commercial air service expansion
Beginning in September, travelers will be able to fly from Ogden to Phoenix and back. But soon, the list of destinations out of Ogden could include cities like Honolulu, Orlando, Fla., San Francisco and Los Angeles.
(Standard-Examiner)

eBay: Renewable Energy "Blooms" in Utah
eBay Inc. set a bold new vision for powering commerce with clean energy, announcing plans to build the next phase of the company's flagship Utah data center with renewable energy. The new six-megawatt (MW) Bloom installation is being designed and engineered into eBay's expanded data center facility in Utah, and will be fully functional by mid-2013.
(Sustainable Business Forum) (Press Release)

Spinning Spider Silk for a Stronger Future
Imagine body armor that is stronger than Kevlar and more flexible than nylon, artificial tendons that speed the healing process following injury, stronger parachutes, lighter athletic clothing, better airbags for your car and stronger tires as well. These are just a few of the possibilities of products using spider silk.
(Utah Pulse)

Insecurity index shows Utah hit hard by recession
Nearly one in five Utah residents experienced large financial losses during the economic downturn, according to a report released Friday.
(Deseret News)

The changing face of Utah -- Are we ready to embrace the future?
Isara Velazquez, born a year ago in Salt Lake City, is considered an ethnic minority in Utah. By the time she's her father's age, she'll be part of the national majority.
(Deseret News)

Development work to begin on former Geneva Steel site
The redevelopment agency in the town of Vineyard has given the go ahead to Skip Dunn Construction to begin infrastructure work on the Anderson Geneva development project on the eastern shore of Utah Lake.
(Salt Lake Tribune)

Wait over, prized Utah liquor licenses go quickly
No sooner had Gov. Gary Herbert signed legislation Tuesday freeing up 90 restaurant liquor licenses -- and putting his stamp of approval on a new liquor-control chief -- more than one-third of the permits were quickly snapped up by businesses that had been waiting for months to obtain one.
(Salt Lake Tribune)

Salt Lake County's proposed megahotel gets new life
The idea of a downtown megahotel to serve as headquarters for big meetings at the Salt Palace Convention Center experienced a revival Tuesday.
(Salt Lake Tribune)

Utah oil shale permit now in limbo
An environmental appeal of a Utah company's permit to mine oil shale in the Uinta Basin is on hold — along with the permit approval — after state and company officials agreed to wait for more analysis, according to an attorney for the eco-group Living Rivers.
(Salt Lake Tribune)

Consumer index holds steady in Utah for June
Utah consumers expressed tepid optimism this month regarding the state's economic fortunes.
(Deseret News) (Salt Lake Tribune)

Restaurant tax to fund tourism efforts
Business organizations in and around Park City recently unearthed some much-needed funding from the Summit County Restaurant Tax, a major contributor for soon-to-be-implemented marketing and tourism efforts.
(Park Record)

Homes sales in Salt Lake area up in May
Home sales throughout the Salt Lake area continued to show gains in May, marking the 12th consecutive month of home sale increases in Salt Lake County on a year-over-year basis.
(Deseret News)

Utah County has 11 of state's 12 fastest-growing cities
It's a statistic that shows the heart of Utah's growth: Utah County, home to 11 of the state's 12 fastest-growing cities (with populations of at least 10,000).
(Salt Lake Tribune)