Business in Utah should bustle through 1997, but employers say it is becoming more difficult to find quality employees, a recent survey of existing businesses in Salt Lake County found.

The Economic Development Corp. of Utah's 1994 fall survey indicated that within the next three years, 43 percent of existing businesses plan to expand into larger facilities and 70 percent believe they will also expand their employee base."It just confirms our belief that business is prospering here and they (executives) plan that to continue for the next one to three years," said Melissa Maples, EDCU's director of existing business.

Although the survey of 322 Salt Lake County businesses had only a 14 percent response rate, Maples said the results provide information about business trends in Salt Lake County.

In particular, the results indicated 100 percent of the respondents said they provide training for employees, most of them in-house programs utilizing human resource managers as trainers.

Sixty-three percent of respondents said they have been able to recruit and retain quality employees, but 85 percent say it is becoming more difficult to find good employees.

Respondents indicated they believe there is a shortage of workers due to Utah's the low unemployment rate, which impacts the applicant pool for entry-level jobs.

Even so, only 14 percent of the businesses that returned the survey said they do not expect a worker shortage and have successfully reduced turnover.

While the survey suggests business is booming at home, few Salt Lake County businesses are exporting.

A year after the ratification of the North American Free Trade Agreement and recent passage of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, the survey found only 15 percent of Utah businesses export outside the United States. Of the businesses that export, gross sales attributed to exporting was an average of 5 percent.

Respondents said the top three issues critical to the success of their businesses were recruiting and maintaining a qualified work force; maintaining a strong economy with a favorable business climate; and forging strong governmental relationships with business and limited governmental regulations.