Ever hear of the ‘Silicon Slopes’? If not, you will soon.
5 min read
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Move over, Silicon Valley. There’s a new tech hub in town that’s attracted the likes of Adobe, Overstock.com, Microsoft and now … Facebook.
On May 30, Utah’s Governor Gary Herbert tweeted that Facebook will open a new data center in Eagle Mountain, Utah. Herbert added some particularly alluring news: The new data center will bring “more than $100 million in pioneering infrastructure” to the state.
Facebook is hardly the first. In fact, the social media giant follows an ever-growing list of companies — including Adobe, Overstock.com, Vivint Solar, Workday, Domo and Skullcandy — which have all moved to Utah’s “Silicon Slopes.” That burgeoning tech hub is nestled Salt Lake City and Provo and the surrounding mountains and is home to over 6,000 tech businesses. Forbes has even ranked Utah the Best State for Business six times since 2010.
One reason for that status and for Facebook’s move to Utah may be the roughly $150 million in property tax incentives. And while the tax advantage is certainly an incentive for coming to Utah — where, incidentally, I myself settled to take, what else, a tech job — it isn’t the only one Utah has to offer. Here’s why you’ll want to choose Utah, for your tech business, too
1. Utah already has a booming tech industry.
Utah is home to more than 6,500 tech business establishments. This tech base makes it an ideal place for those looking to set up new businesses. CompTIA has reported that 8.6 percent of the state’s overall employment is in the tech industry, and that from 2016 to 2017, Utah saw a 42 percent jump in the number of tech-related jobs, including jobs related to the internet of things, virtual reality, smart cities, drones,and artificial intelligence.
Reflecting the state’s growing status in the tech industry is the fact that the globally recognized Silicon Slopes Tech Summit is held in Salt Lake City every year.
Businesses like Adobe and Overstock.com boast beautiful offices, with scenic views of the surrounding mountains. Earlier this year, Adobe expanded its space and nearly doubled its number of employees in Silicon Slopes. An incentive, Adobe vice president Jonathan Francom told the local Fox News affiliate, was Utah’s “highly educated, talented workforce.”
2. Utah’s low cost of living partners nicely with high tech salaries.
On top of a booming tech industry, Utah also offers a low cost of living to go with all those high tech salaries.
Related: Utah, the Next Silicon Valley?
CompTIA data shows the average tech industry wage in Utah is about $83,000, as compared to the state’s average private sector annual wage of about $46,000. Utah ranks at number 28 out of all states ranked for their low cost of living.
Compared to California, one of the most expensive states to live in, Utah’s numbers mean a high salary with a lower cost of living, which leaves businesses and employees with more money to pocket.
3. Utah is just like Silicon Valley … only less crowded.
If you and your employees are fed up with California’s raffic congestion and crowds, Utah may be the perfect solution. The state has a smaller population of approximately 3 million people overall, compared to California’s 39.5 million people.
What that means, of course, is fewer crowds, less traffic and more housing availability. But the good part is that fewer people doesn’t mean fewer things to do.
4. Don’t forget the after-work fun.
Salt Lake City and Park City are the hubs of Utah night life. Consider Salt Lake: Whether you like attending summer concerts, getting a drink at a bar on Main Street, shopping at the farmers market or ice skating at Gallivan Plaza, there’s always something happening in downtown Salt Lake.
The city also hosts annual events like the Utah Pride Parade and the FanX Salt Lake Comic Convention. Park City, just 40 minutes away, is home to the world-famous Sundance Film Festival every year. So, there’s no shortage of things for employers and employees to enjoy after work hours and on weekends.
5. Remember to get outdoors.
If you want to get outdoors, a large number of hiking opportunities can be found within a 10-minute drive of downtown Salt Lake City. The Uinta and Wasatch mountain ranges provide the perfect setting for hiking, mountain biking, fishing and camping.
Utah, of course, has some of the top ski resorts in the world, including Alta, Snowbird and Park City resort. In particular, a visit to Olympic Park in Park City boasts multiple fun activities, including bobsledding. If you want to experience the greatest snow on Earth, you can hit the slopes after work; and access is easy.
There are also more than five national parks within a half-day’s drive. Utah’s “Mighty Five” include Zion, Bryce Canyon, Arches, Capitol Reef and Canyonlands, located a short drive from Silicon Slopes and home to some of the world’s most unique rock formations.
If you enjoy beautiful views, staying fit or being in the outdoors, Utah is the perfect fit.
Overall, the state has a lot to offer both companies and employees — and, honestly, no one’s paying me to say that. With a booming tech industry that’s still expanding, fun recreational activities for after-work hours, its great salary-to-cost-of-living ratio and its availability of affordable housing, Utah is ideal for businesses and employees thinking about following in Facebook’s footsteps to Silicon Slopes.