Skiing and Mormons topped the list when entrepreneurs at last week's Inc. 500 conference in Salt Lake City were asked what they thought of first when contemplating Utah.
But the state's Division of Business and Economic Development hopes opportunities for company expansion or relocation also crossed their minds.According to the division's survey of about 160 of the business people at the conference, 93 percent have a positive feeling about the Western United States.
When it comes to business, 55 percent of respondents said they had a positive impression of Utah as a place to establish a company, while 4 percent had a negative impression and 33 percent were neutral.
"Sometimes the contacts made at important conferences like this one influence decisions of CEOs for years to come," said Rick Mayfield, division director, in a prepared statement.
"Our hope is that when they choose to expand or relocate, they will remember the positive aspects of their trip to Utah."
About 47 percent of those surveyed said it is either very or somewhat likely that their business will expand or relocate during the next two years, while 35 percent said it was somewhat or very unlikely.
When they think of Utah, 30 percent of the entrepreneurs said the first thing that comes to mind is skiing, 19 percent said members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and 15 percent said mountains.
They said the major advantages of establishing a business in Utah would be the quality of life (19 percent), labor market (13 percent), cost or taxes (11 percent) and growth potential (10 percent).
Listed disadvantages of setting up shop in Utah included location (28 percent), a lack of educated labor (7 percent) and weather (6 per-cent).
"It shows that we still have work to do in educating the small and mid-sized company owner that he or she can prosper in Utah," Mayfield said.
"Our airport has easy access to all major cities and international markets, and work force development is an important focus in state government."
During the Inc. 500 conference, which brought executives from the nation's fastest-growing companies to Salt Lake, the division sponsored billboards that said "We're Not Just Playing Games Here . . . Utah Works for Your Business." A similar ad appears in the current issue of Inc. magazine.