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Report rates Utah friend of business

Published March 22, 2007 12:00 am

Consulting firm puts the state at No. 5 in the nation
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2007, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Whether today's economy is based on globalization or a political environment that fosters the development of small to midsized companies, Utah is making the cut.

The state has been ranked No. 5 on a list of America's top 10 pro-business states compiled by Pollina Corporate Real Estate Inc., a Chicago-based consulting firm that advises corporations on relocating their headquarters in the United States and overseas. The study focused on government efforts in creating and retaining higher-paying jobs.

The ranking comes weeks after Utah was named No. 1 among all states for "economic dynamism" in a report released by the public policy think tank, Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, and the Kauffman Foundation.

"Without question, Utah's selling points are its strong pro-business tax environment," said Ronald Pollina, company founder and president, in a written statement of remarks made Monday at the International Economic Development Council Federal Forum meeting in Arlington, Vir.

Pollina also called Utah and other top states models in that they do not cater solely to the interests of large companies that can afford to hire powerful lobbyists pushing special trade or tax policies to benefit them specifically.

"For an increasing number of small to mid-size U.S. companies," says the report, "they simply can't survive in the economic environment created by the federal and their own state government."

Utah's ranking comes behind that of Virginia, South Carolina, Florida and North Carolina. Utah did get low marks in offering economic-incentive programs, a factor state officials say has been corrected.

Utah is now pledging a record level of incentives - as much as $23 million to 14 out-of-state companies in 2005 alone. The amount pledged in corporate incentives is more than double the amount offered to companies the year before Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. took office, in part because of the popularity of a tax-rebate program approved last year by the Legislature.

"The rebate program will seen in next year's report," said Michael Sullivan, spokesman for the Governor's Office of Economic Development. "We expect to score even higher."

In the Kauffman report, Utah scored No. 1 in economic dynamism and competition, based on new business start-ups, fast-growing companies, entrepreneurs starting new businesses and the number of individual inventor patents issued.

Utah's overall new economy ranking was 12th, up from 2002's placement of 16th. The report considers whether state economies are globalized, entrepreneurial, information technology-driven and innovation based.

Massachusetts has repeatedly topped that list and in 2007 increased its lead. The report noted that Massachusetts boasts a concentration of software, hardware, and biotech firms supported by world-class universities such as MIT and Harvard.