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CEO's grade Utah's business climate.

CEOs Grade Utah's

Almost half of Utah businesses plan to expand their operation in some way during the coming year, according to a recent survey. Sponsored by Utah Business and conducted by Orem-based Paria Group, the survey questioned more than 380 Utah CEOs, presidents, owners, and managers about their business plans, concerns, challenges, and reasons for operating in Utah. The survey sample represented a proportionate cross-section of the state's industries. Highlights from the survey include:

On a scale of 1-to-10 (10 being of top concern), Utah businesses agree that escalating insurance costs, finding qualified employees, and accommodating workers with families are their most important needs.
* Finding Qualified Employees 31%
* Clean Air and Environmental Costs 22%
* Governmental Regulations 22%
* Banking Attitudes toward Business 19%
* Health Benefits and Costs 19%
* Accommodating Workers with Families 15%
* Utility Costs 10%
* Transportation 10%

Despite these concerns that permeated the thoughts of business-people with whom Paria Group spoke, 43 percent of the respondents said they plan to hire additional people in 1992, while 51 percent said they expected no change in the number of their employees. Only 7 percent plan to cut their workforce. Fifty-eight percent plan to add to their product line.

As seen in table 3, the greatest amount of employment decrease is expected in the "unskilled" labor force, where 13 percent of the companies plan to lay off such workers in 1992. Since 20 percent of companies plan to add unskilled workers, Utah will have an "anticipated net gain" of 7 percent "needed" unskilled workers.

On the other hand, 49 percent of businesses plan to increase their skilled labor force. Only 3 percent plan to cut back in this area, for a 46 percent net increase in the need for skilled workers.

Table 4 shows that most of Utah businesses (30 percent) earn annual revenue between $1 and $5 million.

Buy Utah

Paria Group's survey shows that most of Utah business transactions are done with other Utah businesses. Nearly half (49 percent) of businesses report that more than 76 percent of their business is conducted in state. Seventeen percent said they conduct the majority of their business out of state. Further, 89 percent of the businesses said they do less than 10 percent of the business internationally. (Curiously, 58 percent of respondents were not familiar with the Utah Department of Community and Economic Development, the state's agency charged with promoting Utah as a viable place to do business.

Financing Health Insurance

A common concern to Utah business is the costs of health care. Only 9 percent favored a national program, mandating that employers either provide insurance coverage for all employees or contribute to a general fund for the uninsured. Eighteen percent of businesses favor a government-sponsored program; and 64 percent said the insurance system should be left the way it is. (Analysts at Paria Group said that this finding probably reflects the lack of a viable option being presented rather than satisfaction with the current system.)

Election Year Hot Spots

The 388 respondents were asked an open-ended question about what issues they'd like to see addressed during this election year. Taxes were identified by 102 of the respondents, followed by health care and insurance costs, and reduction of governmental regulation. Education received only four mentions. Day care was mentioned by only three executives.

Finally, one question asked executives, "If you were elected governor for a day and had a one million dollars surplus, how would you spend it and why?" Education received 121 responses. "Help low-income and homeless people" was mentioned 55 times. Businesspeople also mentioned tourism promotion, highway improvements, programs for the elderly, paying the existing debt, increasing law enforcement staff and salaries, and the environment.

Some verbatim responses to the questions:

"We need to cut our sports

programs in the schools and teach

kids the skills necessary to make a


"I would invest the money in the

schools; for the teachers and

students, not the executives."

"I would invest the money to study

unnecessary expenses of

government; there's too much

waste in this state."

"Subsidize day care."

"I'd put it into the education

system, because we need a

program for adults. We need to

teach our youth values and

integrity for a better future."

"To pay for more day-care

facilities and education. Working

mothers need a break."

"To clean up the gangs and offer

better pay for law enforcement.

That would create a better

atmosphere for industry and


"Educate government leaders on

owning a small business--so they

can see what it's like to juggle

cash flow, budgeting, labor,

regulations, and taxes."

"I'd invest it in education. The

students are coming out knowing

less and less."

Table 3: Anticipated Future Employee Trends
Job Type % Employment % Employment
 Increase Decrease
Unskilled 20% 13%
Skilled 49% 3%
Professional/Technical 35% 4%

[Tables 1, 2, and 4 Omitted]
COPYRIGHT 1992 Olympus Publishing Co.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Utah Business
Date:Feb 1, 1992
Previous Article:Power from the bottom up.
Next Article:1992: changing the way they do business.

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