Utah is beginning to out-compete Colorado on the economic development front, to the point where Bob Beauprez, GOP challenger to Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper, is making Utah’s stronger showing a campaign issue.
Colorado and Utah have long competed with each other for jobs and corporate relocations, along with things that are more fun, such as skier visits.
But since the 2007 recession, Utah has moved from the kind of challenger that state economic development officials had to turn their heads back to see to one that they hear coming up fast on the outside.
“Twelve years ago, we didn’t see Utah as a competitor at all,” says Tom Clark, CEO of the Metro Denver Economic Development Corp.
That changed about five years ago, when Utah staged one of the strongest rebounds of any state out of the recession. Clark visited Utah three years ago to understand what was going on, and he has kept a close eye on things since.
Of the 59 measures his office compares the two states on, Colorado is still leading on 33, including key ones tied to innovation. But Utah is winning on 26, including exports and education funding.