By CANDICE MADSEN
Entrepeneurs and city officials credit growth, BYU and quality of life as reasons why Utah County provides a condusive environment for starting up businesses.
According to the Utah County Business Development Department, 538 new businesses were issued permits last year. This compares with 355 permits in 1996 and 254 permits in 1995.
Steve Turley, owner of TNT Roofing, said Utah County’s rapid growth helped jump-start his business.
“We’ve grown as the industry has grown. I started out with a couple of guys working part time and reached a point where I had about 70 guys roofing for me. We have had to cut back as businesses cut back and try to maintain our market share,” Turley said.
Turley got involved in the roofing industry when he answered an ad for a part-time job listed on the BYU job board. He soon decided to venture out on his own and managed his own roofing company while attending school full time.
In 1993, Turley was named Student Entrepeneur of the Year by the Marriott School of Management Center for Entrepeneurship. His company produces a gross of over $1 million a year.
Despite Utah County’s rapid growth, Steve Gleeson, an economic development specialist for Provo City, said Provo strikes a medium between a large city and a small town.
“We have all the ammenties of a big city but the look and the feel of a kind of home town,” he said.
Gleeson also said businesses enjoy some of the lowest taxes, costs of living and construction costs in the nation. BYU provides excellent resources, as well, Gleeson said.
“Having the nation’s largest private university in your city is a huge incentive for people to come start a business,” Gleeson said. “BYU puts out a lot of very qualified people in a number of different fields. It is pretty well known for having a good student base for employers to pull from,” Gleeson said.
Multi-million dollar companies like Franklin Covey, Hogi Yogi and Nu Skin, continue to grow with Utah County and depend on many BYU and Utah Valley State College students to fill their work force.
John Liu, owner of Access Systems, a computer company, said he decided to start his company in Provo because of the wonderful amount of talented people.
“It is easy to find young, dedicated people who are willing to work for a lot of good experience,” said Liu.
Liu hopes to expand to different regions of the world, but said he plans on keeping his company based out of Provo.
With Utah County’s rapid growth, Gleeson said officials are concerned that it will disrupt the quality of life. However, Gleeson said since Provo is landlocked by the mountains, Utah Lake, Springville and Orem growth is limited.
The State Legislature recently passed a bill allocating 500 acres in American Fork to help facilitate business growth in Utah County.