What do you think of when someone mentions Utah?

Great Salt Lake? Mountains? People wearing six-guns? Quality people?That and numerous other questions were put to people attending the Industrial Development Research Council (mainly representatives of Fortune 500 companies) during a conference in South Carolina by the urban development officials in the Utah Division of Business and Economic Development.

Robert Henrie, manager of the Salt Lake office of R & R Advertising, the firm hired by the state to find out how people perceive Utah, supplied the results to the Utah Economic Development Board.

Great skiing was the answer given most often on what people think about Utah, followed by Mormons, Salt Lake City, quality of life, recreation, mountains, open space, good work ethic, Great Salt Lake, clean, good economy, good government relations, climate, high quality people.

Kirk Green, director of urban development for the state, said the questionnaires were designed to gauge the feelings of officials of companies that might establish a division in Utah to see what perceptions the state must overcome to make the area more attractive.

Of those responding to the survey, 26 percent represented high-technology companies, 45 percent were from manufacturing of food, agriculture, transportation, medical, natural resources, real estate and construction products. They represented old-line established companies and in many instances have very large payrolls.

Asked what comments they heard from other sources about doing business in Salt Lake City, 38 percent of the respondents mentioned labor-related issues. Other responses indicated quality of life, climate, friendly people, high technology, transportation, good location, growing, recreation and taxes as the positive impact.

On the negative side, they listed The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, intolerance of others, liquor laws and a poor economy.

The respondents were asked what areas are Utah's main competitors in attracting business, and Colorado led the list with 55 percent. Others, in order, were California, Arizona, Texas, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, New Mexico, Missouri and several Eastern states.

The questionnaire asked what advantages Utah's key competitors have in attracting business. Market proximity was the favorite response, followed by a skilled work force, transportation, climate, population, high technology, business costs, facilities and resources, better known, land and real estate, good economy, higher education, Mormons, general attitude and minority mix.

Respondents were asked if they had heard about Utah in the national news. Twenty-one percent said "yes" and recalled the Mark Hofmann bombings, the 1983 and 1984 floods, the Singer-Swapp standoff in Summit County, Brigham Young University sports, the Wilberg Mine disaster and LDS Church-related items.

When asked how likely their business was to expand in the next two years, 54 percent of the respondents said very likely, 21 percent said somewhat likely, 8 percent said somewhat likely, 12 percent said very unlikely and 6 percent didn't know.

Would they consider Salt Lake City for expansion? Three percent said very likely, 9 percent said somewhat likely, 22 percent said somewhat unlikely, 34 percent said very unlikely and 32 percent didn't know.