CNBC ranks Utah 3rd best state for business; explore its strengths and weaknesses

Published: Wednesday, July 9 2014 5:21 p.m. MDT

According to CNBC's America's Top States for Business 2014 rankings, Utah is the third best state for business in the nation, trailing No. 1 Georgia and No. 2 Texas, and ranking in front of No. 4 Nebraska and No. 5 North Carolina.

In 2013, the state tied for the No. 5 spot.

In scoring all 50 states for the rankings, CNBC looked at 10 specific categories: cost of doing business, economy, infrastructure, workforce, quality of life, technology and innovation, business friendliness, education, cost of living and access to capital.

Here's a look at where Utah fell in each of these 10 areas:
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seattle, WA

This is not a surprise. A pro business media outlet ranking which favors states with pro business tax and regulation policies.

States that lower taxes for the already wealthy and the corporate personhood types are always higher up on such rankings.

However, it does not necessarily mean that those states are nirvana states to live in. Poverty rates in such places are extremely high, services are extremely limited. Resources are exploited to the detriment of future generations. Pollution is common. Racism is rampant. Tolerance of minorities is low.

I am happy to live in a state which would probably rank low on this list. Somehow or the other some pretty big players (Microsoft, Amazon, Starbucks, Nordstroms, Boeing, to name a few) make it their home. Wages are pretty good. Services are better. And the quality of life is superior. Tolerance is the dominant ethic too.

Casey See

The use of spending per student to determine education ranking is the worst method of looking at education. Hypothetically if one spends 30,000 per student, but only pay teachers 1,000 and the rest goes to administration, then you don't get quality education. Even if you spent it all on teachers but nothing on brick and mortar would you get good education. Somehow any education ranking needs to be based upon student teacher ratio plus test score achievement along with some other ratios such as staff to teachers, administration costs verses total overhead, etc. Then you have something to compare.

salt lake city, utah

Ordinaryfolks, I love Seattle and almost moved there. But to say it is "superior" to quality of life in Utah is a value judgment--as you go on to critically judge what you imagine "high scoring" states values to be (nontolerant, polluted, racist, limited services, high poverty rates etc).

Your generalizations imply that it is the pro-business attitude of these states which cause this. But Texas, at #1, deals with a much more heterogeneous population than whitewashed Washington, with a constant influx of migrants it provides support to. Utah's services are superior to Seattle's in every way except mental health, because Utah has several robust private social service contributors. Thus, while I agree you live in a wonderful state, I am surprised you judge other's so strongly/negatively for having different cultures.

Utah benefits from the quality of its people and unique individualist ambitions. The culture harbors relatively high social and educational expectations. This is true on both sides of the LDS/Non LDS divide. It is a culture of individual responsibility.

In order to continue this culture, our legislature should immediately focus on cutting down dramatically on class sizes--as this is by far our most hypocritical and painful longterm error.

Mister J
Salt Lake City, UT

Kudos from the Jim Cramer network? I'd demand a recount.

What's next blind validation from Forbes magazine?

Allen, TX

Uh, Ordinaryfolks, Boeing is HQ'ed in Chicago, not WA.

And with legal marijuana, good luck keeping even the small Boeing footprint that remained in the Seattle area after the 1998 exodus, as it will be harder to find workers who can pass a drug test.

Having lived about half my 50 years in the NW, and while I love the natural beauty (and of course the seafood!!), I have to say Allen, TX (Dallas area) is a much better place to raise my family. Better cost of living, great schools, diverse and professional economy, and diverse cultures. Much more business friendly than WA.

Othello, WA

Not exactly shocking to hear the comments from Seattle. It is a beautiful area, but most of that community thinks the world revolves around themselves, and the entitlement mentality is sadly depressing and embarrassing. Talk about hate? You have never witnessed hate and intolerance on a grand scale, unless you go against the liberal, pacifist mindset of the Seattle community.

seattle, WA

Interesting that you mention Texas specifically. Texans enjoy higher rates of poverty, and the highest rate of uninsuredness in the country. They have water problems from droughts and fracking. And it is polluted. I know, I grew up there.

J-TX, you got me. Yes Boeing headquarters are in Chicago now. Ten years ago, the CEO wanted to retire to his hometown, so he moved the office there. Yet still, Seattle area is home to its best manufacturing sites and its engineering departments. The Seattle factories are so good that the mistakes made in low-cost South Carolina have to be shipped there to be fixed. And these mistakes by a low paid, low skilled labor force have caused death and serious injury to Seattle workers. But you did get me. But as mentioned above, I know Texas and I don't think it matches your accolades.

Lastly, Hahaha.
Adams County in which you live is one of the saddest in the state. Your agriculture depends on the largess of the federal government, and your poverty rates are higher than most counties. It is Adams county that counts on government money, not Seattle so much.

Cedar Hills, UT

Look at Washington DC, Spending per student is $18,475 but the educational results are ranking in the bottom. It is scientifically proven that the biggest factor for the success of student in the public school is the "parent’s involvement". In that respective, this CNBC ranking is just a junk.

Othello, WA

@ ordinary

I laugh at so many of the stereotypical theories that people like you throw around, in such a mindless fog of disinformation. If the point of your internet-search statistic laden sermon was to point out how different Adams county is from King county, then I say right on. We agree! Myself and 95% of the people here couldn't be happier about that. If you were really trying to be accurate and paint a true picture, then I say you need to try again.
I dare you to point out how the government largess sustains agriculture in Adams co. You need to remember, this is Washington State, not Iowa, or Texas, or Kansas. Most of the well off here are there because of the free and open market situations, not subsidy or entitlement. The population is diverse in race and economics. Yet all go to school and church together side by side. Do you internet search and name one federal government program sustaining Adams co. Most of the government money spent here is because of mandate. Vote buying by politicians. I would love to see all government money pulled out of King and Adams Co. Any bets on who would crumble first?

Kings Court
Alpine, UT

The ranking for education was abysmal. Our legislature needs to step up the amount of dollars it funds education. There is no excuse. When I moved to Utah 20 years ago, we had an even higher birth rate, yet Utah still was in the middle of the pack for education funding. Today there is no excuse for being very, very, very dead last in education spending. We've put up with our defeatest and anti-education politicians for far too long.

seattle, WA


Did you build and pay for that irrigation system that supplies water from the Columbia system that waters your crops?

Do you or other farmers get subsidized crop insurance? Does anyone in your county receive "conservation" payments to stop farming?

I could go on and on, but you are being disingenuous to say the farmers of Adams Cty, or any county in America aren't aided, subsidized, and economically dependent on government largess.

I don't even think it is a bad thing either. Just be honest. Without the state and federal governments your cherished rural life would be unavailable to you.

Othello, WA

@ ordinary

The irrigation system here was conceived and built long before you and I were likely born. Federal money was the tool that paid for and built that project, along with many others around the west. That doesn't mean it is the only way it could have been accomplished. It could have just as easily been done by private effort, and owned privately. Pleas tell me how much you would be crying if a large corporation owned and controlled the system. I am not a farmer, but I know they pay for the operation and maintenance of the system. Please tell us all how much the government subsidizes this.
Subsidized crop insurance is the one area you have a point. I say make it go away, but if you think it what makes this area survive, you are a fool. It is a system that can be scammed to easily. Again, lets take away all your subsidies too. In my post above, I wasn't talking about subsidies. I'm talking about survival. Seattle can get rid of all government money, and so can Adams co., then we will see who really suffers.

Provo, UT

Ordinaryfolks, your claims about Utah and other states just aren't true. I lived in New England and was a minority (being a Mormon). They claim to be tolerant but really they aren't any more or less tolerant than the rest. The people in these aforementioned states are often some of the friendliest you'll ever meet. And I know lots of minorities in Utah who don't feel persecuted.

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