This booming midsize city might have a population of only around 200,000 people (1.15 million in the greater metropolitan area), but Salt Lake City is on the rise. Home to businesses in the seedling stages, midsize companies in a period of growth, and large enterprises, it’s a great city in which to work. But it’s also a place for outdoor enthusiasts, culture vultures, foodies, sports fans, and people who want a healthy environment where they can raise a family. WeWork loves Salt Lake City, and here are five reasons you will too.
1. SLC is business-friendly
Whether you’ve seen Salt Lake City topping lists as the best city for young professionals (#1, Forbes), as a center for tech entrepreneurs in competition with Silicon Valley (#1, Entrepreneur), as an emerging cybersecurity hub (#1, Business Facilities), or as one of the best cities for starting a business (#2, Inc.), the list of accolades keeps growing for this Rocky Mountain locale.
Salt Lake City’s expanding market is surprisingly affordable. Business-friendly tax incentives and a flexible regulatory market give companies the elbow room to scale in ways that might be difficult in other markets. Salt Lake City’s downtown leases are a bargain compared to western tech hubs like Denver, Los Angeles, Seattle, Portland, and San Francisco. Perhaps that’s why tech companies account for almost 67 percent of the commercial real estate leases in downtown Salt Lake City.
Not only is the technology industry flourishing here for both startups and tech giants, but Salt Lake City is an overachiever when it comes to branch locations of enterprise-level businesses in a variety of industries—and it over-indexes for midsize companies with 62 to 93 employees.
Flexible workspace providers like WeWork are a platform for innovators to grow and are enriching the startup and hypergrowth company ecosystem in downtown SLC.Dee Brewer, director of the Downtown Salt Lake City Alliance
In addition to fostering a robust business environment, Utah has been at the forefront of investment in infrastructure and education, which bodes well for Utah’s continued growth into the next decade and beyond.
2. SLC’s workforce is young, hungry, and expanding
A young, working-age population in Salt Laek City enables companies to put down roots or expand their business with confidence. The city has one of the youngest populations in the country, with the majority of people between ages 25 and 34. Not only is its workforce young, but it is also highly educated. Based on census data from 2018, almost half of the workforce (45.1 percent) has a bachelor’s degree or higher.
Many companies are moving to Salt Lake City because of the high quality of its workforce, particularly in tech—but also in other industries such as banking, professional services, educational services, health care, and retail.
Increasingly, younger workers want to live and work downtown, prioritizing commute times and proximity to recreation and amenities. Downtown Salt Lake City offers abundant transportation options as well as entertainment, dining, shopping, and nightlife. And when those young workers start to nest and grow roots, CNBC ranks Utah as the best state to raise a family.
This incredibly valuable resource is also renewable. If you combine the student populations of both Brigham Young (BYU) and Utah Valley (UVU) universities, you get a figure that almost matches the population of Salt Lake City’s central core. And in the next decade, more than 57,000 students are expected to enroll in Utah universities.
3. SLC has undeniable socioeconomic and cultural momentum
“The city is in ascension socially, economically, and physically,” says Brewer. The city’s footprint is changing, with more than 100 stories of office space, residential living, and hotel rooms starting construction this year alone. Performing and visual arts are also thriving in downtown Salt Lake City; 40 different organizations produce more than 80 events each month. “We over-index for artists,” notes Brewer. In fact, there are more artists and creative per capita here than in many larger cities. Still beaming from hosting the 2002 Winter Olympics, Brewer said that the city looks forward to hosting the world again, having beat out Denver for the 2030 Games.
Economically, Salt Lake City sits on list after list of top-performing cities in the U.S.—but don’t call it a bubble. The city’s economy is remarkably stable, thanks to both forward-thinking, business-friendly policies and to homegrown capital investment. Salt Lake City has internal and external stewards to ensure that the conditions are right for the city to continue thriving for businesses and the people who live here.
Additionally, diversity is on the rise here. Of the population growth in Utah since 2010, 59 percent have come from other states, and a huge 41 percent have come from other countries. And Utah ranks second in the nation for laws that protect the LGBTQ community.
4. SLC is the place your people want to live
While Salt Lake City has long been known as the “crossroads of the west,” it’s becoming more popular as a final destination. At the base of the Wasatch Mountains, close to the red rock deserts and mere hours from seven national parks, Salt Lake City is not only beautiful, it’s affordable. Evaluating a range of factors, SLC is close to 50 percent less expensive than living in San Francisco. Salt Lake City also has Denver, a fellow western boomtown, beat. It’ll cost you 12 percent less to live in Salt Lake City than in Denver—and you can still enjoy all of the outdoor lifestyle and preponderance of technology jobs SLC offers.
Public transportation is plentiful and includes light rail, commuter trains, and bus service. Whether you’re commuting to downtown, heading to the University of Utah, or doing business in Ogden, Provo, or Lehi, there’s a public option that allows you to ditch your wheels. Busses are also a boon during leisure time, with connection to nine ski resorts within an hour of the city. Even if you do decide to drive your own car, commutes in Salt Lake City average an impressively short 21 minutes.
Salt Lake City offers a triple scoop of lifestyle, vibrant urban amenities, and oh-so-nice people.Dee Brewer
These amazing lifestyle factors will appeal to the talent your business needs to grow. When it comes to talent acquisition in a competitive job market, your location is an extension of your brand and company culture. The city, neighborhood, building, and office space where you choose to base your business can all be an asset in your hiring strategy. Salt Lake City attracts top talent because, as Brewer notes, “it offers a triple scoop of lifestyle, vibrant urban amenities, and oh-so-nice people.”
5. You’ll be in good company in SLC
For businesses looking to ride the wave in a city with momentum, Salt Lake City is a great choice. WeWork has invested heavily in helping SLC’s businesses grow and thrive.
In Lehi, our two locations at Innovation Pointe perfectly position our members to support the energy and innovation happening in the Silicon Slopes. This area is considered the tech and startup hub of the region, and is home to companies including Qualtrics, Domo, Ancestry.com, Chatbooks, and Adobe.
WeWork is also turning its focus to downtown Salt Lake City, with two locations in The Gateway. This area is in vibrant transition, with new shops, restaurants, and office space cropping up every day. Gateway will attract young talent and progressive thinkers, while injecting some new blood into this area of downtown and offering a second Silicon Slopes–type hub for technology companies and medium to enterprise-level businesses from a multitude of industries. Companies like Google also see potential in this downtown neighborhood.
The Salt Lake City Downtown Alliance is also incredibly invested in Gateway, says Brewer. “It is in the heart of the metropolitan area and adjacent to the urban amenities that attract and delight top talent,” she says. “You can see the Utah Jazz play across the street, shop at the farmers market a block away, and enjoy more than a dozen music venues within walking distance.”
WeWork also recently announced a new 250 Tower location in Central City, with views of the beautiful Wasatch Range. This section of downtown is known for shopping, art galleries, happy hour spots, and intimate music venues.
Every day, I meet someone who came through town to ski, visit a friend, explore the desert, or go to college. Twenty years later they have made a life here.Dee Brewer
It’s hard not to fall in love with SLC. “Salt Lake City is very sticky,” says Brewer. “Every day, I meet someone who came through town to ski, visit a friend, explore the desert, or go to college. Twenty years later they have made a life here.”
As it continues its growth well into the next decade and beyond, SLC is a great city to start, grow, and scale your business.
We have five locations in the greater Salt Lake City area, including two in Lehi, offering flexible workspace solutions to help medium-to-large businesses grow.