Utah Business
3:50 pm
Mon October 8, 2012

Utah Speeds Ahead of Other States as Great Place for Entrepreneurs

Utah ranks just about in the middle compared to other states for entrepreneurial activity. That's according to a new analysis by the University of Nebraska's Bureau of Business Research. The Beehive State stands out on the list -- not for its ranking but for being the state with the biggest jump in the past year. Utah had been 44th; and now it's 23rd. The researchers compared data like business growth and number of patents.

Craig Bott, who heads the group Grow Utah Ventures, points out that funding sources in Utah are growing -- and they're not traditional banks. "We have more 'angel groups,' private individuals who are investing their own dollars in companies of their choice," says Bott. "We've got seed funds that have been established through the public sector, and through some universities, that have been making a difference."

Grow Utah Ventures is seeing proposals for mobile apps, medical devices, outdoor recreation and energy companies, to name a few. Bott thinks its quality of life makes Utah attractive to new businesses, citing the higher education opportunities, leisure activities and sports: "There's so many options now for a young entrepreneur to service a global market from just about anywhere in the country, so if you take that as part of the formula, then it's 'okay, where do you wan to live where do you enjoy living?' And Utah ranks high on that.'"

Bott's nonprofit groups holds competitions for entrepreneurs called "Concept to Company," and he says they often get 150 applicants or more for a chance at mentoring and start-up capital. He says the process has helped launch 85 companies so far.