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2010-10-14 17:03:45
Forbes Names Utah No. 1 For Business & Growth!

For the first time, Forbes Magazine names Utah the No. 1 state in the nation for business development and growth.

Virginia has held that spot for the past four years, but Utah slid into the top spot because of Virginia's rising labor and energy costs.

The Forbes 'Best States for Business and Careers' report measures six categories for businesses: costs, labor supply, regulatory environment, current economic climate, growth prospects and quality of life.

According to the article, which was released Wednesday night, Utah's economy has expanded 3.5 percent annually over the past five years. That's faster than any other state in the country except North Dakota.

As employment in the U.S. has declined over the past five years, the article states that in Utah employment has actually increased 1.5 percent, which is fourth-best in the nation.

It also states that household incomes in Utah have surged 5 percent annually, which leads the country and is twice as much as the national average.

The state has also kept energy costs 35 percent below the national average, produced an educated labor force with 90 percent of residents holding a high school diploma, and boasted an AAA debt rating from Moody's, S&P and Fitch.

The report also credits Utah for a low corporate tax rate.

Earlier this year, Forbes crowned Utah the country's most fiscally fit state government.

Gov. Gary Herbert is quoted in the article saying that Utah has 'a fiscally conservative government where we are trying to keep government off your backs and out of your wallet.'

He told reporters, 'It proves that our economic development plans are working. Jobs are growing again in Utah. We are leading this nation out of the economic recession.'

Lane Beattie, president and CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber, said, 'This ranking doesn't just show that we've weathered the storm better than the rest of the nation. It shows that we have been good for a long time and that is very attractive to businesses looking at our state and for businesses that are already here.'

'We are on the right road going the right direction,' Herbert said emphatically. 'It's hard to be better than number one.

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