Salt Lake City: Start a business
Population: 181,743. Median single-family home price: $213,000.
Job growth: 1.5%
Take a trial run: Hotel Monaco is in the middle of downtown’s buzz. From $109; monaco-saltlakecity.com
Tom Stockham knows you’re skeptical. “I can’t tell you how many people I’ve recruited who think, ‘It seems nice, but I can’t quite imagine living here.’ Then they move to Salt Lake, and stay for a long time.
“There’s not a giant employer like Ford or Boeing. But we have a lot of people building businesses,” adds Stockham, a serial entrepreneur who was previously president of Ticketmaster.com and CEO of Ancestry.com. He now runs SwarmBuilder, which recruits and trains brand advocates to help juice sales for clients such as the North Face.
Larger companies like Goldman Sachs, Adobe, and Specialized Bicycles are drawn to the economy-stoking factors. First there’s the cost structure, including low corporate tax rates, utility prices, and rents. Then there’s the workforce, which ranks near the top in high-school graduation rates, per capita college degrees, and literacy. Unemployment is below the national average, and 80 miles of commuter rail should be completed soon.
“I don’t know any other place where you can have a real job, with good people focused on growing a company, and 20 minutes later you can be skiing or mountain biking or fly-fishing, or at the airport catching a direct flight to Paris,” Stockham says.
Runners-up: Boise; Denver; Albuquerque