Venture Capital — the Key to Boosting Economic Prosperity in Utah

By Anderson, A. Scott | Deseret News (Salt Lake City), June 27, 2018 | Go to article overview

Venture Capital — the Key to Boosting Economic Prosperity in Utah


Anderson, A. Scott, Deseret News (Salt Lake City)


By many measures, Utah has “arrived” as an economic powerhouse. The national rankings tell the story.

We rank at or near the top in nearly every labor market measurement, with exceptionally strong employment growth and low unemployment. We rank as one of the top states for innovation. And we have the fastest-growing tech workforce in the nation.

The Kauffman Foundation ranks Utah as the second-best state for growth entrepreneurship, and we have been designated an “Innovation Champion” by the Consumer Technology Association. We also enjoy the second-most diverse economy in the nation.

How did we reach these heights? I believe four key factors are responsible:

  • We have a positive business environment with limited government regulation.
  • Our tax climate is favorable.
  • Our state government provides appropriate support and encouragement.
  • And we have sufficient capital availability.
That last factor is relatively new for Utah. It wasn’t very long ago that startup businesses in Utah had a difficult time finding early stage funding. Many startup entrepreneurs felt they had to be in Silicon Valley to attract venture capital and to be taken seriously.

Today, Utah has emerged as one of the best states in the nation for capital investment. We have some 50 venture capital firms in the state, and our businesses also attract significant venture capital from other financial centers.

This strong capital investment climate didn’t happen by chance. Former Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. practiced what I call “state capitalism.” Just after he took office in 2005, he proposed two bills designed to stimulate our economy. One was the Utah Science Technology & Research initiative. The other was the Fund of Funds.

These programs provided state investment in basic research with potential for commercialization and also leveraged private investment dollars to kickstart the state’s venture capital industry.

USTAR leveraged the proven success of Utah’s universities in creating and commercializing innovative technologies to generate new businesses, new industries, high-paying jobs and additional business activity. Promising high-tech business startups attracted more investment capital, leading to an expansion of our tax base and enhanced economic prosperity for all Utah citizens. …

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