Utah, known for its majestic mountain ranges, has made remarkable progress in the innovation sector, and the Lehi area is now commonly referred to as the “Silicon Slopes.” The Beehive State has an opportunity to continue harnessing the power of digital tools to build on our state’s long history of entrepreneurship and innovation to create a more prosperous economy for the future.

Technological innovations have revolutionized many sectors, from travel and leisure to aerospace and defense. Now, nearly everything we do, from ordering food to paying bills, relies on some tech platform. In this increasingly interconnected digital world, Utah’s innovators and businesses are helping drive these technologies. Still, they must have a level playing field so our home-grown companies can keep pace and continue to lead the future.

As countries like China try to dominate tech innovation in every sector, America’s and Utah’s tech entrepreneurs are more important than ever. The technology we build and outsource here will ensure that we don’t have to rely on tech from China to do these everyday tasks. One major reason that is important is that U.S. innovators are working to protect our data security; we can’t be sure the same is happening in China.

Tech industry jobs in our state are rapidly growing and driving our economic success. Technology accounts for over $20 billion in economic output in Utah, or 10%, and tech wages are 108% higher than other median wages in the state. In fact, Salt Lake City and the surrounding communities have made their mark as regional tech hubs, attracting large, innovative companies and startups. These regional tech hubs provide fertile ground for innovation, entrepreneurship and economic growth.

How the next major hub in the biotechnology industry found a home in Salt Lake City
Utah strikes deal with Texas Instruments for $11 billion expansion in Lehi

Encouraging collaboration between industry leaders, research institutions, students and aspiring entrepreneurs will further amplify the state’s growth potential and put Utah on the national and global map for technological innovation. Our large talent pool, up-and-coming workforce, and low-cost, high quality of living are attracting people and businesses from across the country.

We also need policies that support science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs and research and development (R&D) projects that will educate the next generation of innovators. Investing in American talent and research will ensure we foster an environment conducive to nurturing innovative ideas and turning them into successful ventures.  

Because of our people and our innovation, Utah is also a critical technology partner in supporting our national security. Home to Hill Air Force Base and Falcon Hill Aerospace Research Park, Utah is leading the nation in aerospace technology development and providing expertise in software and control systems, unmanned air systems and high-tech military testing.

But the growth of Utah’s tech industry, and in turn, economy, can only expand so far without the support and collaboration of Washington’s leaders and our state’s. Our elected leaders play a crucial role in fostering an environment that promotes technological innovation and economic growth.

We saw firsthand with American manufacturing how short-sided policies can undermine an industry and benefit a foreign adversary, and we cannot let Washington do the same with American technology. Congress needs to enact supportive policies that accelerate innovation, put technology front and center and allow American innovation, businesses and people to flourish.

The passage of the CHIPS and Science Act was a great first step in doing just that. By bringing tech manufacturing back to America, our economy, job market and global competitiveness can grow.  

Luckily for Utah, we are already reaping some of the benefits. Earlier this year, Texas Instruments announced its plans to build a chip manufacturing factory in Lehi, adding 800 new jobs and an $11 billion investment to the state. 

Technological innovation and economic growth go together. In order to create a bright future filled with jobs, prosperity and growth, leaders on all levels of government must embrace entrepreneurship, technology and innovation. The future is now.

Marissa Olstom is the co-founder of All My Links, a social media based platform.