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With Utah's 'house in order,' Salt Lake is the 9th best economy

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 16 2012 10:33 a.m. MDT

Aerial view of the Salt Lake City skyline, Friday, June 29, 2012.

Ravell Call, Deseret News

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Salt Lake’s economy grew on average by 2.53 percent annually since 2001, despite the recession, making it one of the strongest among large metropolitan areas in the U.S., according to data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Utah’s capital had the ninth highest average annual growth rate in GDP in the nation between 2001 and 2010 among metropolitan areas with a population of at least 1 million.

“We’ve done a good job ensuring that we have a very business friendly environment in the state of Utah and that’s attractive to companies,” Spencer P. Eccles, executive director of the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development, said in a phone interview. “Whether you’re talking about Salt Lake or all the way down to Washington County, we’re finding that we’re winning all over the place.”

The state’s business-friendly policies have brought in companies like Scheel’s, eBay and Edwards Lifesciences.

Other smaller Utah metropolitan areas are also growing at some of the highest rates in the nation.

The Logan area grew in GDP by an average of 3.95 percent over the past 10 years, raising it to the fastest growing metro area in Utah and 17th in the nation. Provo-Orem came in right behind Logan at 18th at 3.82 percent, according to the BEA data.

“Coming through this downturn, we’ve been very disciplined, building on past successes to continue to ensure we have a business-friendly environment,” Eccles said. “We’ve kept our fiscal house in order. Because of that, we’ve not only been successful in the past, but we’re standing on a firm foundation from which we’ve been building and accelerating.”

The Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, Ore., area is at the top in GDP among large U.S. metropolitan areas with a 4.65 percent average annual growth.

Detroit’s metropolitan area was the only one of its size to post negative average GDP growth over the past 10 years, falling .97 percent.

Salt Lake’s success over its peer cities is due to state cutbacks and “doing more with less” rather than borrowing money when finances got tough, Eccles said.

“It shows in the fact that we’ve maintained our AAA bond rating,” Eccles said.

EMAIL: jferguson@desnews.com

TWITTER: @joeyferguson

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