If you drive out of downtown Salt Lake City and travel southwest for about 20 minutes past subdivisions and strip malls, you’ll eventually notice a massive open-pit copper mine in the distance, set against the backdrop of Utah’s snow-capped mountains and brilliant blue sky.
This particular mine has operated for more than 100 years in the resource-rich state. And for many of those years, the Utah economy propped itself up by exporting copper and gold and relying on agriculture. Now, the land-locked state is trying a seemingly outrageous feat. Utah no longer just wants to be known simply as the home to the 2002 Winter Olympics or the headquarters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It also wants to earn a reputation as a business-friendly state that teaches its local companies–from miners to computer chips makers to cosmetic brands to medical device manufacturers–to sell their products internationally and molds them into exporting powerhouses. “We’re running economic models to figure out which countries can buy what Utah is making,” says Vincent Mikolay, managing director of business outreach and international trade for the governor’s office of economic development.