Business & economic development in northern Utah.

Position::Special report

Business and economic development is happening In all corners of Utah. No longer does a startup need to be located in Salt Lake and Utah valleys; the support services to get a company up and running are available farther along--and beyond--the Wasatch Front than ever before. Rather than repeat what is going on elsewhere in the state, different regions are developing around specific competitive advantages. Nowhere is this more apparent than up north in Davis and Weber counties, where manufacturing continues to reign. But don't be deceived--economic development in these parts is just as high-tech as it is in Salt Lake City, as machinists are trading blue collars for white and becoming knowledge-workers more than ever before. Further, institutions such as Utah State University and Ogden-Weber Applied Technical College are educating a workforce that can barely keep up with the number of well-paying trade jobs becoming available. It's a winning scenario for the right kind of business looking to get started or to expand.


The Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Utah State University has been serving small businesses and startups since 1980. Funded by state and federal government as well as the university, it is one of 11 such centers across the state.

"We basically serve small business through free consulting and through educational workshops and courses that we often offer in conjunction with others, such as our entrepreneur course," director Frank Prante says, highlighting the center's focus on developing new businesses.

The SBDC provides free consulting in business plan development, cash flow analysis, financial statements, advertising, marketing and more.

Prante says the center has had a "significant" impact on economic development in northern Utah, though he concedes measuring that impact in real dollars can be a challenge. "To measure the real impact, one would have to follow our businesses for several years, and that is not practical," he says. Still, the success stories find their way back to the center--such as a small business started by a student who moved away after his studies were completed. "He called me a few months later to let me know that his business was already doing close to a million dollars a year," Prante says.


Existing businesses are well-served, too. Prante tells of a manufacturer who visited the center after his manager and accountant, who had performed a...

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