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STABILITY VITAL TO PROGRESS, BANKERS SAY

SHARE STABILITY VITAL TO PROGRESS, BANKERS SAY

Utah's policymakers must strike a balance between progress and stability if the state is to remain an attractive place to work and do business, local bank economists said.

Stability is the common theme expressed by employers in describing why they like to do business in Utah, said Key Bank of Utah economists Jeff K. Thredgold and Deana L. Froerer."In today's dynamic (and often hostile) business environment, companies are increasingly seeking `stability' to help minimize the unknowns such as changes in regulations, taxation or the employee base," Thredgold and Froerer wrote in the bank's economic newsletter Key Indicator.

"(Utah's) characteristics such as fiscal conservatism, a strong work ethic and relatively consistent public policy approach are attractive in today's competitive business environment."

Utah's reputation for fostering a stable business environment is being rewarded, the economists said.

Nine firms from the manufacturing, distribution, biomedical and computer industries announced plans late last year to relocate to Utah, the newsletter said, and dominating local business news so far this year is Micron Technology's plans to build a plant in Utah County, creating up to 3,500 jobs.

Thredgold and Froerer also cited recent employment data showing 50,000 jobs added to the state's economy in the past 12 months for a 6 percent growth rate - more than twice the national rate.

Despite higher mortgage rates slowing housing sales, home prices in Utah continue to appreciate, they wrote.

Figures from the Utah Board of Realtors show that over the past year the price of an average home in Utah County has gone up 19.3 percent, followed by increases of 12.3 percent in Salt Lake County and 12 percent in Weber County.