Utah: A Steady Climb For The Beehive State

It looks like 2016 gave Utah a lot to buzz about, with predictions for this year likely to follow suit on a more moderate yet positive scale.

By The BF Staff
From the January/February 2017 Issue

The Economic Report to the Governor is a collaborative endeavor of the David Eccles School of Business and the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget. It is prepared by the Utah Economic Council and has served as the preeminent data source on the Utah economy.

Needles District in Canyonlands National Park. (Photo: Jacob W. Frank)

The 29th annual report documented Utah’s success in 2016 with prediction for the economic expansion to continue—at least moderately—in 2017.

“Utah’s economic performance was among the strongest in the nation in 2016. Our state added jobs at more than twice the pace of the nation, and our unemployment rate is the lowest it’s been in more than eight years,” said Juliette Tennert, director of economic and public policy research at the David Eccles School of Business’ Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute and the co-chair of the Utah Economic Council. “We expect that growth will moderate in 2017, but Utah’s economy will continue to be a top performer among states.”

In 2016 Utah saw expansion in all major industrial sectors, adding an estimated 49,500 new jobs—an impressive employment growth rate of 3.6 percent and more than double the national rate of 1.7 percent. The construction sector posted the highest job growth of 6.8 percent with the value of commercial construction reaching a record $2.5 billion in 2016. Major project contributions included expansion of the Utah Valley Hospital in Provo and a 1,700-acre solar plant in Delta.

Construction also was fueled by residential activity since employment was not the only growth Utah experienced in 2016—its population surpassed the 3 million mark, with the highest annual growth in the nation of 2 percent. Net in-migration of just over 24,000 contributed to 40 percent of this growth.

The state’s leisure and hospitality sector achieved 6.1 percent job growth in 2016. Utah’s ski resorts and national parks saw a record number of visitors.

The Economic Report to the Governor indicates demographic benefits, an appealing business climate and increasing labor-force participation will continue to be an advantage for the state’s economy in 2017.


This January, Mueller Industries Inc., announced it will be joining Cedar City, Utah’s growing manufacturing and distribution community. Mueller Industries is a global leader in copper, brass and aluminum tube and fitting products with locations throughout the U.S. and in Canada, Mexico, China and Great Britain.

Like Mueller Industries, numerous companies have discovered that Cedar City is an ideal place for regional and global success. This unassuming city in the heart of scenic southern Utah also is home to GAF, Genpak, Charlotte Pipe, Smead, WL Plastics and dozens of other large and small manufacturers. These businesses, along with homegrown companies like MSC Aerospace and Staheli West have discovered the tremendous advantages of doing business in Cedar City.

For starters, Cedar City is ideally located on Interstate 15 and within a day’s drive of the West’s major markets. Las Vegas is just 2½ hours to the south and Salt Lake City is three hours to the north, with Los Angeles, Phoenix and Denver all within easy reach. A dedicated rail spur here links companies with major ports and metropolitan centers, and Cedar City Regional Airport has regional jet service.

Mueller Industries’ recent announcement, along with current and recent expansions by Charlotte Pipe, GAF and Genpak are testimony of Cedar City’s successful business climate. Charlotte Pipe is in the process of doubling its operation here, GAF recently added a third product line and Genpak has expanded five times in Cedar City.

Workforce Availability: With a median age of 24.8, Cedar City has the youngest population in the youngest state in the nation, in addition to an outstanding work ethic and job loyalty. It has been discovered that any time a company brings their business to Cedar City, there is an unbelievable response in job applicants for every opening. For example, GAF received more than 1,200 resumes for less than 50 highly skilled jobs. They immediately found all their employees and are extremely pleased with the quality of workers that they hired. Cedar City has talented people who live here who are looking for work, and also has people who want to come home to Cedar City when great employment opportunities become available.

Education: Cedar City has an educated workforce. More than 90 percent of residents over 25 have a high school diploma. More than 30 percent have a bachelor’s degree or higher. More than 28 percent of the population is younger than 18, and just 8.6 percent are over the age of 65.

Southern Utah University was established in 1897 and has a current enrollment of about 10,000 students. SUU has developed into a comprehensive, regional university offering graduate, baccalaureate, associate and technical programs. The University excels in Health Sciences, boasting the state’s top nursing program and a very high acceptance rate to medical and dental schools. People in the area look to the University for skill development opportunities, major academic specialties, outreach services, cultural and athletic activities and economic and business development.

Southwest Applied Technology College is part of the Utah College of Applied Technology (UCAT) colleges. In 2016, the Southwest ATC expanded into its new $21 million, 80,000-square-foot facility with increased emphasis on its Allied Health Professions programs. The college serves Beaver, Iron, Garfield and Kane Counties and has an enrollment of 2,400 with programs in Health Science, Welding, Truck Driving, Automotive, Business Technology, Information Technology and Trades & Industry.

Living in Cedar City: Quality of life is difficult to measure, but if clean air, spectacular scenery and matchless recreational and cultural opportunities factor into the equation, then Cedar City scores way above average. Toss in friendly people, community pride and rich historical assets and you begin to understand what makes this such a special place.

Drive in any direction from Cedar City and within minutes you’re experiencing amazing natural wonders. See Kolob Canyons’ massive sandstone walls towering more than 3,000 feet high; amazing slot canyons; ancient Native American petroglyphs; Cedar Breaks’ rainbow-hued amphitheater; alpine forests; and the awesome view from 11,307 feet at Brian Head Peak.

Southern Utah is a paradise of outdoor activities including cycling, fishing, golf, hiking, rock crawling, boating, skiing and much more. Whether you prefer a leisure activity or an extreme adventure, Iron County is the place for you. The area’s spectacular national parks and monuments take center stage for many of the outdoor adventures found in Southern Utah.

Cedar City is filled with year-round festivals and events for every age and almost every audience. For more than 55 years, the Utah Shakespeare Festival has called Cedar City home. The Festival has grown to become one of the most highly acclaimed Shakespeare festivals in the world, earning the coveted Tony Award for Best Regional Theater in 2000. This summer, the Festival moved into its new $40 million facility between the SUU campus and Cedar City’s historic downtown.


Free from the distractions of metropolitan and urban life, the relaxing lifestyle in San Juan County’s charming towns and villages offers the perfect vacation, residential or business environment.

San Juan County is located in the Four Corners region of the southwest United States. This is the heart of the Colorado Plateau with the textbook geology that created the breathtaking canyons and majestic mountains of Canyon Country. San Juan County provides a perfect, centralized base of travel to the world-renowned features that surround us. National Parks and Monuments, including the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Canyonlands, Arches, Lake Powell, Natural Bridges, Hovenweep and Mesa Verde are all within Canyon Country or easy driving distance. State parks include Edge of the Cedars Museum and the great Goosenecks of the San Juan River.

Cultural and natural history experiences abound in Canyon Country. Edge of the Cedars State Park & Museum highlights the Ancestral Puebloan (Anasazi) culture with the largest display of artifacts in the Four Corners. Newspaper Rock Recreation Site offers a large petroglyph panel. Cowboy and Mormon history add color to the county’s foundation, as do Navajo, Hopi, Zuni and Ute artisans whose work is available at local trading posts and galleries. Annual crafts fairs, rodeos, ATV Safari and the International Balloon Festival add to the county’s sense of excitement and adventure. Enjoy river rafting with an excellent guide; jeep into hidden canyons and across mountain ridges; or hike, bike, four-wheel, cliff climb and ATV into and through San Juan County, with 9,000 feet of elevation change—almost two miles between 3,700 feet and 12,600 feet—from red rock canyons to alpine splendor.

“Telecommuting” by workers—which increases the ability of a business to locate anywhere—is opening opportunities for economic development in rural southeast Utah.

Financial incentives are in place in the form of a regional revolving loan fund and a seed capital fund to provide ‘gap’ financing for emerging new businesses that locate in San Juan County. The Utah Enterprise Zone Act offers state tax incentives to firms that will locate or expand in an ‘economically depressed’ rural community. San Juan County is an eligible Enterprise Zone and also a designated Recyclable Market Development Zone.

Healthcare services continue to grow and improve in San Juan County giving residents and travelers more options for care in their own communities.

Real estate is available in San Juan County. There are areas for expansion in Spanish Valley outside of Moab, UT. There is excitement about the possibility of much-needed water and sewer availability coming to that area in the next year. Monticello is developing the area around their new airport to accommodate business development. There also are many commercial lots and open areas in this vicinity that a business could expand or relocate to. Additionally, Blanding has a great deal of area along its main corridors that would be exceptional for development. San Juan County is a rural location where available land can be found at a reasonable price. The county and communities are welcoming and ready to work with you.

A great stride has been made to advance the educational opportunities in Eastern Utah: Utah State University and College of Eastern Utah have joined forces creating Utah State University Eastern. USU Eastern offers the personalized attention of a community college with the educational opportunities and resources of a university. USU Eastern is able to provide personal or professional development training as well as associate, bachelor, master and doctorate degrees. USU Eastern is committed to supporting its students and members of the community through quality education and an enjoyable campus experience. USU supports remote campuses in the communities through satellite technology, allowing people to take classes from professors all over the state. It will also tailor make programs for your business if you should choose to develop here.

San Juan County has been known for its energy production and increasing tourism traffic. Its goal is to diversify and grow in other areas, increasing job availability to residents who would like to stay in their communities.