Utah is consistently recognized as the best performing, most diverse economy in the nation. Over the past seven years, Forbes magazine has named Utah the “Best Place in America for Business and Careers” six times. This kind of success does not happen without great leadership, and in Utah, we are lucky to have Gov. Gary R. Herbert at the helm.
The purpose of the “Utah Prosperity Project” is to highlight Utah’s economic successes and areas for improvement. With that goal in mind, there is no better person to speak with than Gov. Herbert. I had the chance to speak with the governor about future goals for the state and discuss areas we need to focus on if we want to continue to achieve economic success.
Undoubtedly one of the state’s greatest successes is the strength of its economy. To illustrate this, Gov. Herbert noted that Department of Labor Statistics data shows Utah has the best private sector job growth creation rate of any state in America today. But he was careful to note that it is not just about the economy. Utah is doing well in a lot of areas. It has been able to meet its infrastructure needs and demands despite being the fastest growing state in America.
“That’s a significantly heavy lift,” said Gov. Herbert. “We’ve dealt with our infrastructure needs in a fiscally prudent way, while improving efficiency throughout much of our state government by 25 percent. We have fewer state employees today than we did 15 years ago. These things have not been easy, but are necessary for success and prosperity.”
Gov. Herbert circumscribed it all – job creation, the strength of our infrastructure, improvements in education and efficiency in state government – by noting that such successes lead to a great quality of life and economic opportunity. But there is a caveat, he explained. “While the data clearly shows that Utah has enjoyed significant success, we aren’t perfect, and we must not rest on our laurels. There’s much yet to be done.”
When I asked the Governor what he viewed as the state’s greatest challenge he did not hesitate to say growth. Utah’s population is expected to double by 2060 and that growth will put a strain on resources from the state level all the way down to counties, cities and towns. A growing population will impact infrastructure, education systems, supply chains and so much more.
So where does the Governor see the state in the next five years?
by WTC Utah President and CEO Derek Miller