Industrialist Jon. M. Huntsman took international trade expert Joel Kotkin to task Friday for his recent rebuttal to a Fortune magazine article naming Salt Lake City the No. 1 place in the country to do business.

In an "open letter" to Kotkin read Friday to members of the Salt Lake Estate Planning Council, Huntsman took a few good-natured jabs at Kotkin, who said the Fortune article was comparable to Weekly Reader material."It would appear from the (local newspaper) articles (on Kotkin's speech to the Salt Lake business organization) no one came off very well in your talk, except for the senior writers at Weekly Reader, certainly not the editors of Fortune magazine, one of America's oldest and most respected business publications," Huntsman said.

The New York corporate relocation firm of Moran, Stahl and Boyer questioned hundreds of experts across the country in preparation of the article, which lauded Utah's plentiful, well-educated work force and low labor costs, Huntsman said.

"Obviously, Mr. Kotkin, you were overlooked. Karen Gerard, the vice president of Moran, Stahl and Boyer, stated in the Fortune magazine article, `Availability and quality of labor are turning into the No. 1 issue for companies considering whether and where to relocate.' "

A public and private alliance of Utahns has doggedly sought out economic development opportunities for a number of years, Huntsman said.

When Kotkin offered his speech to the Pioneer Partnership on Nov. 19, Huntsman, in his role as Utah ambassador for economic development, and Gov. Norm Bangerter were on a corporate recruiting mission in the East. During the visit, the group visited the chief executive officers of Kidder Peabody, American Express and Chase Manhattan Bank.

Huntsman said Kotkin should take notice of Utah's ability to create 60,000 new jobs in three years by attracting new industry and the expanding existing businesses.

"Mr. Kotkin, we have worked long, we have worked hard for this recognition. We have made this desert blossom as a rose. We take pride in our pioneer heritage. We share in the dignity and sensitivity of those who settled this valley, and we shall continue their tradition of industry and hard work that began in this valley in the summer of 1847.

"We have waited long, we have worked hard for our moment in the sun. No one can deny it is finally ours."