The tech sector’s impact on Utah’s economy

When someone mentions a beehive, what are the first thoughts that pop into your head? You probably can’t help but think of the delicious honey that those little creatures produce. More importantly, though, bees play a critical role in maintaining strong plants and crops through the process of pollination.

Most folks already know that Utah is the “Beehive State.” Yet how many of us have really stopped to think about how aptly that metaphor sums up the spirit of our state? I think that it’s spot on.

Consider recently released data from the U.S. Census Bureau that found that, over the last decade, Utah was the fastest growing state with almost 3.28 million citizens. Our rate of growth was 18.4 percent, compared to 7.4 percent nationally. But this information only begs another question: what led to our state’s growth?

Our population boom can largely be chalked up to our economy hustling and bustling like a healthy beehive. To extend the metaphor even further, our burgeoning technology sector could be the queen bee behind our state’s markets.

Don’t take my word for it. According to Utah’s Business Journal, the technology sector here in Utah has a direct impact of $20.1 billion on the state’s economy.

Another recent study found that we owe nearly one out of every seven jobs, or nearly 10 percent, of the total workforce here in Utah and as much as $30 billion to the tech sector. The same report estimates that the tech sector accounts for 11.5% of our economy. Only nine other states can count a higher share.

That is a lot of honey!

Encouragingly, employment growth in Utah’s technology space is expected to continue to increase by 27% over the next decade. In 2021 alone, the tech companies in Utah are expected to add about 245,000 jobs.

However, like how the honeybee can be devastated by hasty changes to circumstances or their environment, the health and vitality of the Deseret economy is a delicate balance.

Our representatives in Salt Lake City and Washington, D.C., should be very sensitive to the potential effects policy changes can have on our business environment. The smallest of shifts can have major consequences. Keeping the hive thriving is a delicate balance.

That is why I encourage our Congressional delegation and those in the statehouse to bring leaders in the tech industry to the table and chart a path forward that will ensure sustained growth long into the future. The last thing any of us want to do is to make dramatic changes to our healthy business climate and put our honey making at serious risk.

Scott Anderson is the President and CEO of Zions Bank