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UTAH'S HIGH-TECH FUTURE GROWING

Some have called Utah's growth in the computer technology business a "quiet revolution" that is transforming the state's business climate. An impact certainly is being made, and the awareness is beginning to extend beyond Utah's borders.

One sign of the effort to focus national attention on Utah's increasing prominence is a three-day conference in Salt Lake City this week that is drawing more than 150 senior executives from leading computer companies and major users of computers.The first annual Information Technologies Summit being held today through Friday is hosted by a number of Utah groups and sponsored by a national industry group known as OURS, standing for Open User Recommended Solution. It is an organization of companies that make big use of computers and tries to encourage computer products that are compatible with each other.

Officials of OURS said Utah was chosen for the conference "because of its increasing significance in the U.S. information technologies industry." That reputation may come as a surprise to many Utahns, but the statistics are impressive, indeed.

Aside from the well-known major firms like Evans & Sutherland, Novell Inc., and WordPerfect, there are about 850 companies - headquartered or having operations in Utah - that are producers or providers of computer and/or telecommunications-related products and services.

These 850 companies totaled $4.9 billion in revenues in 1990. The number of Utah workers employed in these firms total 55,000, an eye-opening figure. Through the next three years, the employee head count is expected to increase by 24 percent, most of it among small firms.

The figures compiled by the Utah Information Technologies Association, a trade group, are impressive. Surprisingly, Utah already ranks third in the nation in high-tech activity, and it has the potential to become an international computer technology center. The state is considered about 80 percent of the way toward reaching what industry observers call "critical mass" - the emergence of a kind of self-sustaining explosive growth.

Utah has the business environment; the supporting infrastructure of lawyers, banks, accountants, printers and other suppliers of goods and services, and a well-educated labor force. But it needs more venture capital and still has something of an image problem that complicates getting world-class business executives to relocate to jobs in Utah.

However, events like this week's technology summit can go a long way toward exposing business leaders to the growing computer industry that is giving Utah a new and exciting business climate.