Utah Valley is one of the three fastest-growing high-tech centers in the United States, according to a former president of a Provo-based research and engineering organization.

Utah County is home to 110 high-tech companies that employed 6,000 people and accounted for $1 billion in business in 1988, said Ronald G. Hansen, president emeritus of Eyring Research Inc.Hansen showed a slide of a brochure proclaiming, "Move Over Silicon Valley, Here Comes Utah Valley."

"I hope to be able to show you that we can become a Silicon Valley, because the talent is here," he told a group of students Thursday at a Brigham Young University Executive Lecture.

He said that in Utah Valley the citizens are well-educated, transportation is easy, the lifestyle is attractive to business and there is a good work force.

"Utah Valley's productivity is higher than the Utah average and the U.S. average. Why is that? Because it's a good work force," he said.

Hansen quoted Ray Noorda, Novell's president, who said that as Novell has grown, it has had a good work force to draw from. "They wouldn't think of moving their headquarters because of the pool of talent, and some of that talent is sitting right here in this room today. Many of you will be able to find jobs because of the projections of growth right here in Utah Valley."

Drug and alcohol abuse is lower in Utah Valley than in most other areas. Work stoppages are "zero" compared to other business areas, largely because of the low number of union jobs in Utah Valley, Hansen said. Crime, including employee theft, is also lower. "Believe me, when companies are moving and they're looking at the work force, these things become very important."

One problem in Utah Valley is the average wage. "We're hurting in wages," Hansen said. Salaries will rise as more companies like the Sears Telecatalog Center enter the area, he said. "They've already said what their rate standard is going to be, and it's going to be higher than the guy next door," he said.

"It's not going to be enticing to the businessman, but he's still going to be competitive. If the businessman is able to produce products 20 percent cheaper, it's primarily because the wages are down, and most of us are convinced that that is not right."

Hansen said people interested in starting new businesses can tap the resources of the Utah Valley Economic Development Association. The association can show where sites are available and can point to financing alternatives. Utah Valley cities also offer information and financing for new businesses.

In addition, BYU's Utah Small Business Development Center has helped more than 200 small businesses in business planning, marketing, sales, production and materials management, employee relations, organization, international trade, strategic planning and accounting.

Utah Valley's colleges have also helped provide a competent work force. Hansen said Utah Valley Community College, University of Phoenix, Stevens-Henager and BYU are good suppliers to high-tech work forces.