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State climbs from No. 4 to No. 1 in past five years

SALT LAKE CITY - Under the leadership of Governor Gary R. Herbert, first as Lt. Governor and now as Governor, the State of Utah has climbed to the top spot in Forbes Magazine's annual ranking of "The Best States for Business and Careers."

Utah ranks No. 1 in the report, released Wednesday, bumping Virginia from its four-year reign in the top spot. Among the factors that placed the Beehive State at the top are:

* Annual economic expansion of 3.5% over the past five years
* Annual total employment increase of 1.5%
* Annual increase in household income of 5%
* Decrease of corporate tax rate from 7% to 5%
* Energy costs that are 35% below the national average

"While magazine rankings do not tell the whole story, they certainly create a narrative that shows Utah has all the elements that make us a successful place to start or expand a business and a desirable location to live and raise a family," Governor Herbert said. "Several years ago, we made a conscious decision to make economic development apriority. We have since consistently climbed in the rankings and, in the past year, our leadership pushed Utah to the top of the list."

Forbes' "Best States" ranking measures six categories for business: costs, labor supply, regulatory environment, current economic climate, growth prospects and quality of life. Utah's rankings in those categories are:

* Business Costs: 8
* Labor Supply: 5
* Regulatory Environment: 6
* Economic Climate: 1
* Growth Prospects: 20
* Quality of Life: 18

In announcing this year's results, Forbes noted that while states across the nation have suffered as a result of the national economic downturn, some states, like Utah, have weathered the downturn better than others. The magazine notes: "But some areas are doing better than others, and for many of them, it isn't an accident. Who's doing the best job when it comes to fostering growth? Utah."

"This recognition shows that not only is the State of Utah open for business, it shows that our businesses can compete anywhere in the nation and the world," said Jason Perry, Governor Herbert's chief of staff and former executive director of the Governor's Office of Economic Development.

After selecting Perry to serve as his chief of staff, the Governor appointed Spencer Eccles in September 2009 to serve as GOED's new executive director. Both appointments served as proof of the Governor's commitment to economic development in the State.

"The Governor's directive to me was to continue to make Utah a state where businesses not only wanted to be, but a state where they needed to be," Eccles said. "We have
succeeded in ensuring that Utah has a pro-business environment and an unparalleled quality of life. We will continue to support our existing Utah companies while attracting others to the State."

Under Governor Herbert's leadership, the State has announced major expansions of Utah businesses and the relocation of other notable companies to the Beehive State. Forbes notes the many businesses, such as Goldman Sachs, Oracle, eBay and Adobe, which recently acquired Utah's own Omniture, have recognized the benefits of operating in Utah. Other homegrown companies like Merit Medical, Nelson Laboratories and Sun Products (formerly Huish) have expanded with the assistance of the State and local
communities.

Along with Eccles, GOED operates under the leadership of Derek Miller and Josh Romney, also appointed by Governor Herbert in September 2009 to serve as an economic  ambassador to Utah. Together, the Governor's Office and GOED have forged partnerships between the Utah Legislature, local governments, education and the private  sector through initiatives such as the Economic Development Corporation of Utah, USTAR and the Utah Cluster Acceleration Partnership.

"This is a great day for the State of Utah, but I also understand there are still businesses and families in the State that continue to struggle as we emerge from the national recession," Governor Herbert said. "As Governor, my promise to all Utahns is that I will continue to foster economic growth throughout the State. Expanding our tax base is the single best way to fully fund public education and to pay for other critical state services such as public safety and human services."

Over the past year, the State has seen the addition of 19,000 new jobs and, as noted by Forbes, now showing positive job growth. Also, preliminary data indicate that statewide sales tax collections are significantly up over this time last year and the State is expected to see revenue growth for the first time in several years - all encouraging factors that point to economic growth in Utah.

The full Forbes article in available online at www.forbes.com/2010/10/13/best-states-forbusiness-beltway-best-states.html.

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