"If you think you were surprised, you should have seen the faces of the people in our office."
This is how Geoffrey Colvin, a member of board of editors of Fortune Magazine, described the atmosphere in the magazine office when everyone concerned with a "Best Cities" article decided that Salt Lake City was the best place in the country to do business.Colvin described the background of the Oct. 4 article Wednesday during a breakfast in the governor's mansion when Gov. Norm Bangerter, state economic development officials, members of the Utah Economic Development Corp. Board, the Utah Economic Development Board and others thanked Colvin and the Fortune staff for the selection.
Because everyone was surprised that Salt Lake City was named the top business city in the country, Colvin said writer Patricia Sellers devoted about 50 percent of the article talking about Salt Lake City's economic assets. "We had to make a case for Salt Lake City," Colvin said.
Several cities were delighted with the article that outlined the 10 top business cities in the country and several cities, naturally, were not delighted. "It goes with the territory. We didn't set out to anger or please anyone, but we are confident we made the right choice," Colvin said.
Colvin said the magazine didn't do the article to receive plaudits, only to take a look at the economic climate in the 50 major metropolitan areas of the U.S. He said many businesses look at the quality of the labor force in deciding to relocate or expand, and the Fortune article said Salt Lake City gets an A+ for availability and quality of the work force.
Bangerter signed a declaration naming Wednesday as Fortune Magazine Appreciation Day and said the state has come a long way in economic development in the past six years since the state was in the doldrums. He said boosting the state's economic development is a cooperative effort and thanked everyone who has been working on economic development.
He said that after many years of existing in relative obscurity, Utah is now getting some national attention in the economic area that should help when the rest of the country may be in a recession.
Bangerter said he is often asked why the state puts so much emphasis on economic development that results in change and he replies that jobs need to be created so "Utah's children can enjoy the same things we do."
Rick Thrasher, UEDC president, said Fortune Magazine has taken the lead in proclaiming nationally the qualities about Salt Lake City that have long been known by business leaders locally and "it's only fitting that we say thanks for the tremendous public recognition the magazine has brought to this state."
Colvin spoke during a Wednesday luncheon in Little America hosted by UEDC, a public-private corporation attracting new business to Utah and retaining the businesses already in the state.
Following the breakfast meeting, the UEDC board met and passed two resolutions, one thanking chambers of commerce in the Salt Lake Valley and Bountiful for their cooperation on the Fortune article and the other praising the UEDC staff and members for their help.