When it comes to bringing in new industry, Utah County is "one of the hot spots in the nation," a Utah Valley Economic Development Association official says.

Paul Stout, director of marketing and public relations for UVEDA, said most counties the size of Utah county attract one new company every three to five years, "but we average six companies per year."One of the reasons Utah County sells to new industry is that, according to the Utah Valley Databook, the area is the fastest growing metropolitan county in the state in population, and has the lowest cost of living on the Wasatch Front. The databook is a statistical review of Utah County to be released by UVEDA next week.

Cost of living in the county is at 87.5 percent of the national average - almost 10 percent below the cost of living average in the Salt Lake and Ogden areas.

While some people tend to view the growing population in the county as a negative point, Stout said, "We've got to have a good, growing population or businesses will not want to come to the area. They want to take advantage of the growth because it gives them more work force to draw from."

The databook also says the quality of education in the area continues to improve. ACT scores of high school students in the three Utah County school districts - Provo, Alpine and Nebo - are better than the state and national average.

To sell Utah valley, UVEDA officials first point to a highly-skilled work force that is educated and available. The average age in the county is the youngest in the United States, at 22. Stout said that figure means the work force will be around longer.

He said Utah is the best educated state in the union. Ninety-four percent of residents graduate from high school and more than 20 percent graduate from college. The databook says Utah Valley rates are higher than those figures.

Construction costs in Utah are among the lowest in the country, at about 15 percent below the national average, and Utah Valley is somewhat lower than the state average.

Utility costs are 28 percent below the national average because fuels and water are abundant, he said.

The databook, published every year, is available to clients, business people and others who want additional information on Utah County.

"It's the No. 1 marketing tool for the valley," Stout said. "It gives you everything you need to decide whether or not you want to come here."

In fact, UVEDA officials have had so much success selling Utah County to companies that there is no longer an abundance of buildings available to lease in the county.

"We used to have a couple hundred buildings that were empty or available for lease, but right now we are at a critical shortage of buildings," Stout said.

UVEDA officials are not really complaining. They are happy with the fact that buildings have sold, though there are fewer buildings to show to prospective businesses.

"It's a story of supply and demand," Stout said. "It usually evens out, but we've been at a high supply for a number of years and now we are at a high demand."

He said the economy in the valley is moving ahead because of Geneva Steel and the growing number of hi-tech industries in the county. "Once Geneva came on line, we had an incredible surge in people filling up lease spaces."