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Why Utah is Forbes' best state for business (and 10 tips to help you gain these advantages, too)

Published: Monday, Jan. 28 2013 3:20 p.m. MST

Gathered around the table on a monthly basis are the president of the Chamber of Commerce, the president of the university, the school district superintendents, county commissioners, the mayor, the president of the technology college, successful business leaders both large and small, bankers, entrepreneurs, a spokesman for the local military base, area economic development directors, and local angel investors and venture capitalists. A well-respected community business executive is the leader of the committee. He has seen the need to organize the group, and he has invited other key luminaries to join the organization. None are paid. It is a labor of love.

Topics include what each organization is doing to support, encourage and actively foment business (recruitment, existing and entrepreneurial) growth with conversations on how these various entities can work together to remove barriers, improve communications and achieve measurable results. Interestingly, the group is not connected to any legal or elected body. It gathers its power from among the participants to make decisions for the common good of the community. Following a thoughtful debate on any given topic and a vote, each member sustains the plan unanimously. Action follows.

It has become clear to this high-powered committee that to build a robust and thriving local economy it must talk to its customers first. To this end, the committee invites aspiring entrepreneurs and human resource managers from area firms from high-growth industries and companies to a meeting to learn what key resources they might need, including the type of workers they will be hiring in the future, how many they will need and what skills workers will need to possess.

Working from this point of understanding, educational institutions know what subjects should be taught and when. If start-up and growing companies need funding, financial institutions, including angels, bankers and venture capitalists, make note to consider how they might participate. The chamber president alerts his membership to rally support; elected leaders ponder tax incentives as economic directors consider infrastructure capabilities such as power requirements and property for new buildings.

All leaders work together in a seamless collaborative fashion to help each growing business obtain the correct resources at the right time.

What can we learn from this powerful approach to economic development? Communities that want to build viable and sustainable economies need the following:

1. Leadership

2. Clear purpose

3. Unity

4. Cooperation, collaboration

5. Dedication

6. Hard work

7. Listening and learning from customers

8. Resource capabilities, alignment and implementation

9. Love of community

10. Volunteerism

Would you like to learn more about how you can launch some of the efforts we have started in your own community or state? Please contact me for more information. I am pleased to share what we have learned. You can reach me at @AskAlanEHall or via www.AlanEHall.com. Thank you for reading.

Alan E. Hall is a co-founding managing director of Mercato Partners, a regionally focused growth capital investment firm. He founded Grow Utah Ventures, is the founder of MarketStar Corp. and is chairman of the Utah Technology Council.

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