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Salt Lake City: The New Silicon Valley?

Salt Lake City Skyline

Salt Lake City Skyline

Looking for a place to start a technology company? Utah, particularly the Salt Lake Valley, is a growing economy and it is quickly developing a reputation for its innovative technology and tech start ups. In fact, Fast Company recently named Salt Lake City one of the 30 fastest cities in the world for its urban innovation. I recently went to siliconslopes.com, an online networking hub for Utah-based technology companies, and found “more than 5,200 tech-based companies” listed in its directory. And since investment capital tends to follow growth in technology it was not surprising to see such a large number of equity investors, as well. While there is only a handful of Utah-based investment firms, I counted well over 200 nationally based angel, VC and private equity firms that have done a deal in Utah.

So why is Utah such an attractive region for technology innovation and private equity? Siliconslopes.com lists some highlights about Utah:

  • The U.S. Census Bureau projects that Utah’s labor force will increase at twice the national average between 2003 and 2030.
  • One-half of the U.S. population is located within a 2.5-hour flight of Salt Lake City
  • Utah’s cost of living is well below national levels, according to most indicators.
  • In 2003, USA Today ranked Utah the best-managed state in the country.
  • Utah’s unemployment rate in 2007 was 2.8 percent, compared to the national rate of 5.0 percent
  • Southern Utah has the nation’s greatest concentration of national parks: Arches, Canyonlands, Bryce, Zion and Capitol Reef.

3 Responses

  1. Interesting. So what does this say about the job market and economic growth (particularly during this current recession)? Will SLC become saturated with small start-ups or is that even possible (a la the common arguement: you can never have enough entrepreneurs!).

    Is SLC competing against other demographics for the title of “New Silicon Valley”? Meaning, are there other areas with similar growth in the country?


  2. Great questions. The job market in SLC is apparently fairly strong, especially in comparison. But not as strong as others, like certain pockets in Texas. It just depends on the industry you’re looking at. As for technology, it seems SLC is a growing hot bed. I’m sure there are many more tech start ups in other markets like CA, especially the Bay Area. But if you’re comparing apples to apples then SLC is on track to become another silicon valley. The key is not in the rate of new start ups, it’s in the success and size really. Silicon Valley may have a lot of tech start ups and investors. But many of these, like Google and McAfee have crossed the chasm and become very successful. That hasn’t happened yet for SLC. I mean, not many people have heard of Idealy.com or NLE beyond the Salt Lake Valley. In fact, not many within SLC that have even heard of them or many of the other 5,200 tech companies listed on siliconslopes.com.

  3. […] Posted on March 31, 2009 by Jacob Webb I got a great comment on a previous post about Salt Lake City becoming the next Silicon Valley and wanted to respond to it […]

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