**Utah’s Transformation into a Tech Hub: Fostering Inclusivity in Silicon Slopes**
**Utah’s Emerging Tech Scene and the Challenges of Inclusivity**
Utah, known for its picturesque landscapes and world-renowned ski resorts, has recently garnered attention as a burgeoning hub for tech companies. Dubbed as “Silicon Slopes,” the region has attracted investors and entrepreneurs alike. However, despite its success, Utah faces the complex task of harmonizing its strengths with the goal of fostering inclusivity.
**The Need for Inclusivity in Utah’s Tech Industry**
During the Fortune Brainstorm Tech conference in Deer Valley, Utah, Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince highlighted the challenges the state faced. While acknowledging his love for Utah, Prince mentioned the highest LGBT teen suicide rates in the country and the prevalence of misogynistic practices. He emphasized that Utah needs to overcome these hurdles and address its exclusionary tendencies to become a true tech hub.
**Utah as a Tech-Centered Workforce**
Utah boasts a significant presence in the tech industry, with 7.2% of its workforce, approximately 123,000 people, employed in the sector. This places Utah as the state with the ninth-largest tech-centered workforce in the United States. Renowned companies like Qualtrics, Domo, BambooHR, Plurasight, and Ancestry are among the state’s tech success stories.
**Attracting Talent to Boost Utah’s Tech Scene**
To further enhance its tech industry, Utah aims to attract talent not only from within the state but also from renowned tech hubs like Silicon Valley. The rise of remote and hybrid work arrangements presents an opportunity for Utah to bolster existing tech companies and foster the growth of startups.
**The Challenge of Mormon Culture**
Despite its ambitions, Utah’s deep-rooted connection to Mormon culture presents a unique challenge to its aspirations of becoming the next Silicon Valley. Achieving long-term growth and competitiveness requires embracing a wider range of perspectives, backgrounds, and skill sets.
**Progress Towards Greater Inclusivity**
Although Utah has traditionally been seen as insular due to its high percentage of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, there have been notable changes in recent years. The state’s population reported a 60.68% affiliation with the church in 2020. The religion’s missionary program, known for producing excellent salespeople, has proven beneficial for tech companies seeking talented individuals.
**The Rich Heritage of Utah’s Tech Industry**
Utah’s emergence as a tech hub can be traced back to the 1970s with trailblazing companies like WordPerfect, Novell, and Evans & Sutherland leading the way. The late ’90s and early 2000s saw the debut of Ancestry.com, Vivint, and Omniture. The University of Utah’s tech program also played a significant role in fostering innovation, leading to the creation of Adobe, Pixar, and many other tech companies. Adobe’s acquisition of Omniture further solidified Utah’s status as a tech hub.
**Creating an Ecosystem for Tech Innovation**
Utah’s tech industry has flourished through the interconnectedness of tech companies and talent. As employees move between companies and even launch their startups, the state’s ecosystem continues to evolve. Ancestry CEO Deborah Liu likened this phenomenon to Seattle, where companies like Amazon and Microsoft have fostered a thriving tech scene.
In conclusion, Utah’s transformation into a tech hub comes with the challenge of promoting inclusivity. While the state boasts a strong tech workforce and a rich heritage in the industry, efforts must be made to address issues related to diversity and inclusiveness. By embracing diverse perspectives, Utah can pave the way for long-term growth and establish itself as a prominent player in the tech landscape.