Utahns are gradually becoming less defensive about their state, which should help boost economic development.

That word comes from four business editors who said recent publicity about economic development and the way the state government is run have helped Utahns feel better about where they live.Speaking to the MountainWest Venture Group in the Marriott Hotel were Max Knudson, Deseret News business editor; Paul Rolly, Salt Lake Tribune business editor; Kathy Biele, Ogden Standard-Examiner business editor; and Cara Bullinger, Utah Business magazine editor-in-chief.

Rolly said Utah business has a right to be proud of itself, especially the high-tech industries. Too often Utahns are defensive about their state, he said.

Speaking about northern Utah, Biele said companies there are dependent on defense contracts and because of recent cutbacks several companies are going through an identity crisis. She said many northern Utah firms are trying to find their own direction.

Bullinger said Utahns are gradually feeling more confident about themselves and Utah needs to continue marketing its positive points.

Asked whether Utah is suffering from "brain drain," Knudson said there has been a lot of talk about people leaving the state, but the lifestyle is so great they want to return. "There is a brain drain, but it has slowed down," he said.

Rolly said high school students who can afford it will leave Utah to attend college in other states, which means Utah should commit more money for education than it does. He said a protest over a tax increase for education a few years ago sent the wrong message about how Utahns revere education.

Bullinger said many Utahns leave the state to get experience and higher salaries and then return to bargain for jobs. Biele said that in many instances they won't receive higher pay but are willing to work for less because they like Utah's lifestyle.