In the maddening world of attempting to entice business to Utah, the state ranks as non-competitive with other states because Utahns aren't willing to make investments in getting the new business.
That indictment of the Utah business climate comes from Gerald G. Probst, chairman of the University of Utah National Advisory Council and former chairman of Sperry Corp. (now called Unisys).Probst, who was company chairman from April 1982 until his retirement in December 1986, spoke to the Salt Lake Rotary Club in the Marriott Hotel and said that today economic development requires investment and risk-taking.
Utahns have a legacy of sacrifice, but are we willing to make the investment? he asked.
He said some investment already has been made, but that must be expanded greatly. "The rewards are there, but it will take sacrifice from everyone including government," Probst said.
When he graduated from the U. in 1951, he and most other graduates had no choice other than leaving the state because no high-technology jobs were available.
When he returned to the state earlier this year to spend his retirement years, Probst said he found that not much has changed - people are still leaving the state to find high-tech jobs.
Probst said Utah schools used to be rated among the best in the United States, but now they are rated as average, with low teacher morale and a high student to teacher ratio.
When looking for a place to expand a business, a manager looks at economic factors such as labor costs and taxes, quality and quantity of the labor force and the culture and educational environment such as the availability of universities.
On the positive side, Probst said Utah does have good recreation and cultural outlets, good interchange with universities and excellent community values such as low street crime, honesty and a hard-working work force.
But, he said, the state doesn't provide many incentives for businesses to expand into Utah although the Utah Technology Finance Corp. is making an attempt in that direction.
Probst said many states offer a wide variety of incentives for business expansion in their state and it pays off in jobs and taxes.