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MOST OWNERS, MANAGERS IN POLL LIKE AREA’S BUSINESS CLIMATE

SHARE MOST OWNERS, MANAGERS IN POLL LIKE AREA’S BUSINESS CLIMATE

Most Utah businesses say they like the business climate here and think it is as good as or better than in other Intermountain states.

But most are happier with their community and county environments than with the state as a whole.Those are among the findings of a survey conducted by two Utah State University researchers on Utah's business climate as seen by business owners and managers.

"It appears that difficulties experienced by business owners and managers are associated more with state-level concerns than those at the local level," said David Rogers, professor of sociology and director of the USU Extension Community Resource Development Program, and Marion Bentley, associate professor of economics and USU Extension human resources specialist.

Rogers and Bentley say the proximity of a business to its home environment may lead to higher levels of satisfaction because local officials and contacts are more accessible and better known.

More than 825 businesses statewide in mining, construction, transportation, finance and services responded to the survey, which was funded by business, industry and the USU Cooperative Extension Service.

The numbers on satisfaction with the business climate break down like this:

- For the community in which they operate, 14 percent of businesses rated the business climate as excellent, 45 percent good, 28 percent fair and 13 percent poor.

- Nine percent rated the county as excellent, 43 percent good, 35 percent fair and 13 percent poor.

- The state's business climate was rated excellent by 10 percent, good by 35 percent, fair by 35 percent and poor by 20 percent of the respondents.

Firms involved in mining and transportation as well as larger firms tended to give Utah's business climate higher ratings.

Rogers said the perception of Utah's business climate compares with perceptions of other states. Thirteen percent said Utah's climate is better and 49 percent said it's about the same, while 38 percent said Utah's business climate is worse than other states.

Rogers and Bentley also asked business operators about their concerns for the next one or two years.

No. 1 is Utah's economy, with 90 percent expressing that concern.

Other major concerns are taxes, 86 percent; growth and expansion, 84 percent; government regulations, 81 percent; overhead costs, 72 percent; and higher education, 72 percent.

Respondents were moderately concerned about competition (64 percent), an adequately trained labor force (57 percent) and staying in business (56 percent).

The least concern was for capital financing (49 percent), lack of more construction (45 percent) and public schools (31 percent).

In response to a question asking the three greatest advantages of doing business in Utah, the responses listed most often, in order, were business location, quality of life, quality of the labor force, labor costs and market conditions.

Disadvantages cited most often, again in order, were taxes (excluding local property or state corporate taxes), the economy in general, market conditions, negative state image and transportation.

Based on the findings of the study, Rogers and Bentley suggest that efforts to improve Utah's business climate should be directed toward concerns that can be solved by private- and public-sector actions. Among these are government regulations, an adequately trained labor force, capital financing and the quality of public schools.

They said governments can provide other important contributions to the business climate such as better information and access to state and federal incentive programs, training, business and management assistance, procurement and financing.

"These factors should be given further attention in public-sector efforts to improve Utah's business climate," the USU researchers said.