Why the Silicon Slopes are Just Warming Up

Inc.com – Tanner Christensen

In case you’ve missed it: Utah is one of the top places to be for impactful work over the next few decades.

In the quiet urban areas of Salt Lake City, Provo, and Ogden, business has been booming. And not just any regular type of business: the entire advanced and entrepreneurial sectors have been exploding over recent years.

Modern powerhouses like Adobe, eBay, and Skullcandy have famously planted themselves firmly in Utah. While billion-dollar companies such as Qualtrics, Vivint, and Ancestry.com continue to boast of profits, and venture capital per deal in the area has surpassed that of rival hubs like San Francisco and San Jose.

Entrepreneurial spirit in Utah is on the rise as well, thanks in-part to an explosion in co-working spaces and small business communities, providing much needed space for 100s of startups.

What exactly is it about Salt Lake City and surrounding areas that makes it such a hotbed for creative business and entrepreneurship?

The reasonably affordable cost of living (living off $66,000 in Salt Lake City is equivalent to $140,000 in Silicon Valley)

The nearby top universities which focus on S.T.E.M. learning:  Brigham Young University and the University of Utah

Tax Breaks

Quality public transportation connecting all of the major city hubs

A tight knit community within the small but dense population, which helps promote network effects

But, as someone who recently migrated West from the Silicon Slopes to the Silicon Valley, I think the real appeal Utah has for entrepreneurs and innovative companies alike is this: the sense of it being a creative wild west.

Salt Lake City today is what Palo Alto and San Jose represented in the 80s. While there’s a lot of ideas in the air, there’s also ample technology and very smart people (not to mention money) there to turn those ideas into reality.

For modern companies like Adobe and more traditional ones like Novell, that wild west spirit means capturing the raw talent of University graduates and self-taught pros is as easy as stopping at the local watering hole and introducing yourself.

While companies like Clearlink and Vivint can invest in more creative concepts for drawing in employees and customers. Including everything from an onsite concert venue and annual, all-expenses-paid trips to Las Vegas, to giving discounts to families who have children with disabilities and sending 600 kids to the local basketball game to raise awareness of autism.

When you start to look a little closer, it’s no wonder Utah is one of the top hot spots to start or run a business.