Utah’s ski resorts are no longer the only slopes inspiring thousands to stay or work in Utah. Our thriving tech startup scene, a business- and consumer-friendly economy and unbeatable landscapes — Utah is climbing to the top of the list for tech hubs in the United States creating new businesses and jobs in our state.
The attractive environment that puts Utah on the tech hub map is not guaranteed. As federal officials engage in anti-innovation and anti-technology efforts, they jeopardize the community’s potential. Entrepreneurs and companies big and small must continue to feel safe setting up shop in Utah. Both starting and expanding are major investments. Tech companies need to know that our state’s officials are not pushing for regulations that will hurt American innovation and the sector’s economy.
We now have over 8,200 tech businesses, more than 6,500 of which are startups. The Beehive State is booming with opportunities. Top technology companies like Overstock.com and Domo are headquartered in Utah. Big names such as Adobe and eBay have established facilities in the state. Even Google has set its sights on the “Slopes” and acquired land to build a data center in the up-and-coming tech haven.
The energy in Utah’s tech environment is perfect for startups like Podium and WeLink to jump in and take off. In less than a decade, Utah has produced numerous tech startup unicorns — startup companies with a value of over $1 billion. For example, Divvy, a financial management platform for businesses, built itself up in Utah and defied odds reaching a billion-dollar valuation in just five years.
The tech sector’s success is much more than self-serving. The tech community contributes over $20.1 billion to the state economy and equips local schools and colleges with the tools they need to produce technologically savvy innovators and technicians. Tech’s prominence in the Utah economy gives organizations, like ours, the opportunity to be successful in supporting startups and making a visible difference beyond the tech sector as well.
In our state Legislature, this means our focus should be on empowering Utah tech companies to continue fostering safe, online environments and avoiding legislation that makes content moderation practices more costly and less effective. In the courtroom, this means abandoning crusades against “Big Tech” and recognizing the value of the companies that prop up our very own economy in times of trouble. For example, Google, which plans on expanding operations into Utah and creating thousands of jobs, may feel that Utah is a bad investment and redirect investments elsewhere.
In Congress, this means Utah officials taking a stand against anti-American tech legislation in both the House and the Senate. It is their responsibility to show support to the sector that is bringing prosperity to Utah, not attack them with harmful and overbearing rules, regulations and costs. The bills under consideration will not only hurt American tech companies, but they will make costs higher and opportunities smaller for startups and small businesses.
Utah Tech Leads is committed to protecting Utah’s business environment, preserving our quality of life and promoting our state’s successes. Utah’s state government and elected officials must continue to show their support to keep the momentum of the state’s tech ecosystem thriving. The tech sector has transformed Utah and propelled it into the future. Now is the time to empower tech and celebrate the achievements of Utah tech. We cannot afford to let the “Slopes” melt away.
Elizabeth Converse is the executive director of Utah Tech Leads.
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