Lunch and Learn
The newly formed Emery County Business Chamber held its opening kick-off luncheon on Nov. 16. The event was well attended. The chairman for the business chamber is Jerry Stotler, retired businessman. He welcomed everyone to the event. The luncheon was catered by Gilly's. Taina Benson the owner of Gilly's is one of the new board members for the business chamber. The board has been meeting monthly to plan the opening event and begin the articles of incorporation and bylaws process. The ECBC invites all businesses in Emery County to join. They plan to keep the fees low to encourage participation from all the businesses both home and store front in the county. Speakers will be invited to the Lunch and Learn meetings to help business owners with their businesses and to present useful information to help business owners run a more successful and profitable business. By banding together and working together the ECBC believes all businesses in the county can prosper and grow.
At this kick-off event Mayor Joe Piccolo from Price spoke to the audience as well as Sen. David Hinkins and Nielson Construction owner Wayne Nielson. At each ECBC meeting there will be a spotlight on local business, one of the oldest businesses in the county is the Emery County Progress newspaper in its 111th year. Publisher Rick Shaw spoke saying the papers are owned by a family in San Diego, but they allow each paper to have its own personality and to focus on local news. The Sun Advocate and the Progress have been partners for the past 40 years. Many of the employees at the Sun Advocate live in Emery County and the three employees at the Progress all live in Emery County. Between the two papers they reach 51,000 readers in a week's time. Shaw said the local newspapers are proud to do business in Carbon and Emery counties and they want to do what they can to help the new business chamber to be a success.
Mayor Piccolo said when he became mayor, Price City had 21 empty businesses along their Main Street and their chamber wasn't as strong as it is today. He set about to revitalize Main Street with programs like Downtown Alive which the chamber has promoted. He sent out 179 letters to business owners to get their ideas and he received no response. Through hard work there are now less than three empty businesses along Main Street.
Price is especially proud of the JC Penney's store which is the second oldest store in the Penney's chain. "We value those kinds of businesses and we have made a big deal out of them. Whenever a new business opens or expands we have a ribbon cutting ceremony for them. We care enough to put our money where our mouth is. The BEAR program helps small businesses. It is in the process of becoming a statewide program because of the success it's had in Carbon and Emery counties. It's said that misery is not complete until it's shared. But, I say let's share our successes, in these tough economic times, people are suffering, but America is still one of the greatest gifts to the world. We are not ruled by kings, we have had our share of adversity, our country was split down the middle in the Civil War. We've had hard times, World War I and World War II; how would you have liked to be there then. Times are tough, but it's not bleak. This is the land of opportunity. Our country faces hard times, but we will come out stronger and more committed," said the mayor. Mayor Piccolo pledged his support to the new business organization for Emery County. He encouraged business owners in Emery County to be a part of the effort.
Sen. David Hinkins introduced himself saying he was from Orangeville. He said the lay-off at Consol is a concern in the community; he said a young man approached him and said he has a young family and will be impacted by the lay-off. Sen. Hinkins said sometimes an adversity can also be a time of opportunity. He knows what it's like to have a young family and be laid off from work. He worked at Harmond Electric in Price and then at the Horse Canyon Mine. The mine told the employees they were going to close. Hinkins moved back to Orangeville and bought a service station. He borrowed money from several places who didn't know he was borrowing from the others and he started his own business, Industrial Electric, 35 years ago. "It's been great and rewarding, but it's very hard to make a business go. Emery County is not the easiest place to do business. Some people today are so reliant on the government and entitlements that they can't make it on their own," said Hinkins.
Hinkins said pollutants are down in the coal industry and he wouldn't trade the air here in Emery County for that along the Wasatch Front. Other states are competing too for the nuclear power plant being considered by Green River. "We don't want to lose it," said the Senator. The nuclear plant would bring in billions and employ several hundred people and would be a big boost to Emery County.
On immigration reform, the senator said he went to Phoenix and saw a holding tank where the people who had been caught sneaking into the US were being sent back to Mexico. They were sending back about 150 a day. He asked if this was average and he was told they used to send back 1,000 or more a day but because the economy is down here in America they are not coming as much; only the drug runners are still coming.
The Senator said he represents the Navajo nation as well in his district and there are people on the reservations still waiting for power and water. "There are people who live much differently than we do and they aren't that far away," said Sen. Hinkins. There is a $33 million trust fund to help the Navajos.
Sen. Hinkins spoke highly of those he serves with in the Utah Senate he said they are the nicest people he has ever been around and he trusts them. Sen. Hinkins commended the people on getting an Emery County chamber going. "Let's keep our money here in our own valleys," said the Senator. The Senator said with the redistricting he might add Kane County to his list of counties to represent. "We need to stick together and support each other and our businesses. Those who have stuck it out here through thick and thin," said Sen. Hinkins.
Wayne Nielson said Nielson Construction was a dream come true for his father and his uncle. The two started the business in the 1950s, they started with nothing; they spotted a dozer in an army surplus store and they purchased it and the legacy began. Things were tough. They worked for the farmers in the area.
In the 1960s, Uncle Clair was killed in an accident and John was devastated. The business known as Nielson Brothers became Nielson Construction. During the 1970s the farming side of the company kept things going. Then things picked up. John was always fascinated by heavy equipment. Owning heavy equipment was a dream come true for him.
Nielson said there has been sacrifice, sweat and hard work that has gone into the growth of the company. The employees and managers at the company are the greatest asset the company has. Due to health problems, Wayne bought out his brother Ralph and Wayne is the president of the company and his son John is the vice president and their wives are their psychiatrists.
"No one realizes what a wife goes through. A construction company is not the easiest business to be involved with. There are some real challenges. Our wives are our strength, they keep us going. Our people are the best. We have the best employees. We work within a 100 mile radius, to the Basin Area and Roosevelt, parts of Colorado and we have been assisting with the tailings cleanup in Moab and have built the facility at Crescent Junction to store the tailings. That's a huge project and we will be there for eight more years. Diversity is our strength. If one thing is slow then the others are booming. We have been recognized and won awards for our mass excavation projects. We have worked on earthen dams. We are installing the pipeline for the Huntington/Cleveland irrigation project. That is a huge project and benefit to our area. We've worked in the oil and gas fields and hope a lot of good things are coming in the Nine mile area," said Nielson.
Nielson Construction was recognized as the Utah Department of Transportation's contractor of the year and they won the Earth Day award from DOGM for the reclamation work on Willow Creek mine at Castle Gate. The Utah Business ranked Nielson Construction in the top five heavy contractors in the state.
"We love Carbon and Emery counties. We have asphalt plants in both counties. My son pestered me until we started a concrete plant. I am thankful for John's leadership. We will continue to be positive and survive tough times and move forward. We want to continue to build Emery County," said Nielson.
Mike McCandless, economic development director for Emery County thanked everyone for coming to the kick-off luncheon. He said more information on memberships will become available as the organization moves along.
The next Lunch and Learn will be held on January 18.
Future speakers will include people from the governor's office of economic development and those involved in the film industry to speak on the opportunities that await Emery County in that field.