The Economic Development Corporation of Utah (EDCUtah) has developed a tool to help relocating or expanding businesses to quantitatively compare sites when making location decisions. Dubbed “Fifty by Fifty” (50x50), the tool uses 50 different metrics comparing sites in all 50 states.
“Every company’s circumstance is unique and how well Utah will ‘fit’ for a given company varies,” said EDCUtah chief operating officer Michael Flynn. “We assist our clients best when we provide clear, simple data that helps them make informed decisions and find the best fit for their needs. Acting as the trusted agent is one of the founding principles at EDCUtah, and our new proprietary 50x50 tool reinforces our ability to live up to that principle.”
Flynn explained that more than 50 percent of EDCUtah’s economic development projects come directly from companies seeking to relocate or expand. Often those companies have never been through an expansion or relocation project.
“In such instances, we add value by helping the companies not only quantify their individual decision drivers, but also by helping them understand those variables in context with other markets,” said Flynn. “Having clear, sourced, apples-to-apples data will help us deepen the partnership in all of our projects, whether they land in Utah or not.”
Research manager Matt Hilburn noted that 50x50 allows EDCUtah to build custom metrics for any company, simply by identifying and weighting the key variables that are decision drivers for that company. EDCUtah can then use 50x50 to produce a custom ranking for any or all 50 states based on the company’s unique weighted variables.
“The weighting and metrics we’ve built as part of the initial 50x50 Research Brief are based on data gathered during our 2016 Site Selector Perception Study,” Hilburn continued. “In that research exercise we asked more than 200 site consultants what they viewed as the primary decision drivers inside of corporate recruitment. Using their feedback, we developed the 50x50 Research Brief comparing all fifty states based on their weighted criteria.”
The initial 30-page 50x50 Research Brief was released recently by EDCUtah and is available on the organization's website. It provides comparative data across the 12-state region where Utah competes the most, along with rankings for all 50 states. In the brief, Utah ranks first as the best state for business in the 12-state western region and No. 2 nationally based on the weighted criteria from the site selectors.
The default metrics included four different conditions: 1. A state’s economic factors, 2. Labor costs, 3. Operational costs and 4. Tax landscape. Utah ranked well regionally and overall because of its strong job growth, educated labor pool, ideal business climate and low operating costs.
“Our report will be an excellent resource for businesses, and particularly for legislators and government officials who want to see how well Utah is doing compared to other states,” Hilburn said. “It is essentially a state report card of economic-related metrics.”
Hilburn noted that a large portion of the report is devoted to the various economic incentives offered by individual states — “a goldmine of information that will help companies and business leaders make informed comparisons.” The economic incentives were not included as part of the ranking, due to their subjective nature, Hilburn said.