In The News
The Salt Lake Tribune, 8/22/2018
Utah County ranks No. 2 in the nation for job growth — with an increase of more than three times the national rate, new federal data show. It also ranked No. 6 for wage increases.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Wednesday that the job growth in Utah County — home of the booming Silicon Slopes high-tech area — was 6.0 percent between March 2017 and March 2018, compared to a national average of 1.6 percent.
Among the nation’s 349 largest counties, only Midland County, Texas — in oil country — had a larger increase, at 12.6 percent.
Some other top counties in the nation included Boone County, Ky. (near Cincinnati), up 5.9 percent; Montgomery County, Texas (north of Houston), 5.6 percent; and Calcasieu Parish, La. (around Lake Charles), 5.0 percent.
At the bottom of rankings for large counties was Kanahwa, W.V. (surrounding Charleston), where employment dropped by 1.4 percent during the year.
The agency reported that 314 of the nation’s 349 largest counties saw employment increases during the year. The data comes from the quarterly census of employment and wages.
It also reported that Utah County ranked No. 6 in the nation for the percentage increase in average weekly wages, up 9.7 percent over the yearlong period to $930 a week ($48,360 a year). Again, the Silicon Slopes area there attracts higher-paying, high-tech jobs.
The U.S. average weekly wage increase was 3.7 percent over the year to $1,152 (or $59,904 annually).
The large counties that finished higher in the wage growth by percentage rankings were: Peoria, Ill., up 23.8 percent; Suffolk, Mass., 12.1 percent; Clayton, Ga., 11.3 percent; King, Wash., 10.1 percent; and San Francisco, 10.0 percent.
At the bottom was Forsyth County, N.C. (around Winston-Salem), where average wages dropped by 4.8 percent.
The release also contained data about Salt Lake, Davis and Weber counties in Utah.
In Salt Lake County, the job growth rate was 2.5 percent, ranking No. 62 among the largest 349 counties nationally. The average weekly wage was $1,081 ($56,212 annually), up 4.1 percent. That wage growth ranked No. 78 nationally.
Davis County saw job growth of 2.0 percent, ranking No. 103 nationally. Its average weekly wage grew by 4.7 percent (No. 46 nationally) to $867 (or $45,084 annually).
Weber County’s job growth was 3.5 percent, just making the top 25 nationally. The average weekly wage there grew by 3.1 percent (No. 160 nationally) to $808 (or $42,016 annually).
Entrepreneur, June 13, 2018
Victoria Merinda Schmid
Move over, Silicon Valley. There’s a new tech hub in town that’s attracted the likes of Adobe, Overstock.com, Microsoft and now … Facebook.
On May 30, Utah’s Governor Gary Herbert tweeted that Facebook will open a new data center in Eagle Mountain, Utah. Herbert added some particularly alluring news: The new data center will bring “more than $100 million in pioneering infrastructure” to the state.
Facebook is hardly the first. In fact, the social media giant follows an ever-growing list of companies — including Adobe, Overstock.com, Vivint Solar, Workday, Domo and Skullcandy — which have all moved to Utah’s “Silicon Slopes.” That burgeoning tech hub is nestled Salt Lake City and Provo and the surrounding mountains and is home to over 6,000 tech businesses. Forbes has even ranked Utah the Best State for Business six times since 2010.
One reason for that status and for Facebook’s move to Utah may be the roughly $150 million in property tax incentives. And while the tax advantage is certainly an incentive for coming to Utah — where, incidentally, I myself settled to take, what else, a tech job — it isn’t the only one Utah has to offer. Here’s why you’ll want to choose Utah, for your tech business, too
1. Utah already has a booming tech industry.
Utah is home to more than 6,500 tech business establishments. This tech base makes it an ideal place for those looking to set up new businesses. CompTIA has reported that 8.6 percent of the state’s overall employment is in the tech industry, and that from 2016 to 2017, Utah saw a 42 percent jump in the number of tech-related jobs, including jobs related to the internet of things, virtual reality, smart cities, drones,and artificial intelligence.
Reflecting the state’s growing status in the tech industry is the fact that the globally recognized Silicon Slopes Tech Summit is held in Salt Lake City every year.
Businesses like Adobe and Overstock.com boast beautiful offices, with scenic views of the surrounding mountains. Earlier this year, Adobe expanded its space and nearly doubled its number of employees in Silicon Slopes. An incentive, Adobe vice president Jonathan Francom told the local Fox News affiliate, was Utah’s “highly educated, talented workforce.”
2. Utah’s low cost of living partners nicely with high tech salaries.
On top of a booming tech industry, Utah also offers a low cost of living to go with all those high tech salaries.
CompTIA data shows the average tech industry wage in Utah is about $83,000, as compared to the state’s average private sector annual wage of about $46,000. Utah ranks at number 28 out of all states ranked for their low cost of living.
Compared to California, one of the most expensive states to live in, Utah’s numbers mean a high salary with a lower cost of living, which leaves businesses and employees with more money to pocket.
3. Utah is just like Silicon Valley … only less crowded.
If you and your employees are fed up with California’s raffic congestion and crowds, Utah may be the perfect solution. The state has a smaller population of approximately 3 million people overall, compared to California’s 39.5 million people.
What that means, of course, is fewer crowds, less traffic and more housing availability. But the good part is that fewer people doesn’t mean fewer things to do.
4. Don’t forget the after-work fun.
Salt Lake City and Park City are the hubs of Utah night life. Consider Salt Lake: Whether you like attending summer concerts, getting a drink at a bar on Main Street, shopping at the farmers market or ice skating at Gallivan Plaza, there’s always something happening in downtown Salt Lake.
The city also hosts annual events like the Utah Pride Parade and the FanX Salt Lake Comic Convention. Park City, just 40 minutes away, is home to the world-famous Sundance Film Festival every year. So, there’s no shortage of things for employers and employees to enjoy after work hours and on weekends.
5. Remember to get outdoors.
If you want to get outdoors, a large number of hiking opportunities can be found within a 10-minute drive of downtown Salt Lake City. The Uinta and Wasatch mountain ranges provide the perfect setting for hiking, mountain biking, fishing and camping.
Utah, of course, has some of the top ski resorts in the world, including Alta, Snowbird and Park City resort. In particular, a visit to Olympic Park in Park City boasts multiple fun activities, including bobsledding. If you want to experience the greatest snow on Earth, you can hit the slopes after work; and access is easy.
There are also more than five national parks within a half-day’s drive. Utah’s “Mighty Five” include Zion, Bryce Canyon, Arches, Capitol Reef and Canyonlands, located a short drive from Silicon Slopes and home to some of the world’s most unique rock formations.
If you enjoy beautiful views, staying fit or being in the outdoors, Utah is the perfect fit.
When people talk about technology and internet startups, they usually think of the fast-paced world of Silicon Valley. After all, Palo Alto, Menlo Park and the surrounding areas have hosted everyone from Facebook and Google to Apple, LinkedIn and Quora. It’s as though there’s something in the water.
But times are changing, and Silicon Vallley is no longer the only place to go if you want to launch a company. In fact, technological and entrepreneurial hubs are popping up all over the world, from Tokyo and Singapore to London and Berlin. And of course, hubs are popping up all over North America as well.
One of the most interesting and diverse new hubs in the US is the so-called Silicon Slopes, an area that encompasses Salt Lake City, Provo and Park City in Utah. The ‘slopes’ from the name is inspired by the Utah mountains that take the place of California’s valleys, and the area is home to a whole heap of software and hardware companies, many of which specialize in memory processing technology (like SanDisk) or digital entertainment (like EA Sports).
But despite this, the Silicon Slopes area is relatively new and so many people are still struggling to wrap their heads around it. That’s why we’re sharing just five of the things that you need to know about this booming technological hub.
1. It has great transport links
Silicon Slopes is served by Salt Lake City International Airport and it’s just a relatively short two-hour flight from Utah to Silicon Valley. That’s a significant improvement on the travel time for east coast entrepreneurs who find themselves regularly hopping on to a six-hour flight from New York to California.
Speaking of transportation, many Valley-based entrepreneurs are sick of the endless traffic jams and the unreliable public transport of both Silicon Valley and nearby Silicon Beach in San Francisco. Utah’s roads aren’t perfect, but they’re certainly much better than many of the alternatives.
Now, it might sound silly to worry about traffic when you’re launching a world-class startup, but it can actually have a huge impact on staff happiness and productivity levels. And the good news is that in Utah, you won’t have a problem getting to the office during rush hour – which means your staff can focus on the job in hand.
2. You’re in good company
Much of the Silicon Slopes area used to be farmland, but it’s been transformed beyond recognition and is now home to a whole heap of both up-and-coming and established technology companies. Several of them are “unicorns” – startups with a valuation of over a billion dollars.
For some people, this would mean that there’s a lot of competition, but most founders and entrepreneurs realize that it’s better to be surrounded by likeminded people so they can share ideas and collaborate with each other to make a real difference. And in the Slopes, you can find companies like Adobe, Microsoft, Ebay, InsideSales, Workfront, Domo and more.
3. There’s a lot of talent
Silicon Valley is notorious for its talent shortage, although that’s not to say that there aren’t plenty of talented engineers and entrepreneurs in the area. The problem is that the huge demand outstrips the supply, which can make it difficult for new startups to hire the people they need to get the business off the ground.
In Utah, the situation is a little different. It might not be known for having established talent in the same way that Silicon Valley is, but it is home to a huge number of ambitious young graduates from the University of Utah and Brigham Young University. And as the area is still growing, there’s plenty of talent to go around, which means you can hire them young and promote internally to build the kind of team that can take on anything.
4. It’s historic
People don’t necessarily think of technological history when they think of Utah, but there’s a surprising amount of it in the state. It was the home of the first electronic television transmission in 1927, and it also spawned the creation of everyone’s favourite retro gaming company, Atari. Nolan Bushnell, the company’s iconic founder, was born in Clearfield, Utah, and studied at the University of Utah before founding Atari and moving to Sunnyvale, California.
In more recent years, Utah has spawned a number of unicorns (like Fusion.io, which was acquired by SanDisk for $1.1 billion), as well as dozens of household names like Ancestry and Skullcandy.
5. It’s not Silicon Valley
The Valley is great and it’s more than earned its place in tech history – and even in mainstream culture as a whole. That said, it’s not for everyone. The companies in Silicon Slopes have a different mentality, with many of them bootstrapping and shunning swanky parties in favor of long hours in front of a computer screen. And for many who don’t have much money, the lower cost of living makes Utah a much more practical choice.
As with most things, there’s no single right or wrong answer to the question of where to launch a startup. But what’s great about Silicon Slopes is that it offers a practical alternative to Silicon Valley that will suit some companies better than others. Without places like the Slopes, we’d have less choice and there’d be less competition – and that’s bad news for everyone.
In 2016, Utah was named by FORBES as the best state to do business in for the third time, which means they must be doing something right. In fact, the growth in the area shows no signs of slowing, at least in the short term, and the snowball effect is already in motion.
Don’t be surprised when you start to hear about startups from Utah achieving mainstream success, because they’re already putting the area on the map in tech circles. It can only be a matter of time until the next big social network comes not from Silicon Valley but from Salt Lake City. And that can only be a good thing. After all, diversity helps to foster innovation, and innovation is what powers the industry.