Improving the Emery County business climate: Lunch and Learn explores economic activity
The Emery County Business Chamber is planning its March Lunch and Learn meeting. It will be held on March 15 at noon at the Museum of the San Rafael. The featured speaker for this lunch will be Alan Christensen who is an expert on marketing your business on the web and making sure your business has a web presence and email.
Mike McCandless, Emery County Economic Development Director spoke at the previous Lunch and Learn, he gave an update on economic development in Emery County. He has been working with Blue Castle Holdings on the proposed nuclear power plant near Green River. McCandless said the initial challenge came in finding a large tract of land in an appropriate location. The Mancos Hills Industrial Park was already established with 2,400 acres of available land and so it became a natural fit. The point of diversion change for the water is the biggest hurdle the project has and is still being considered by the state division of watr rights. The water would be obtained from Kane County and San Juan County water users and they would lease their water to be used by the nuclear power plant and the water would be diverted from the Green River just south of town. If the point of diversion is approved McCandless said the nuclear power plant could have a 75-80 percent chance of moving forward. If it moves forward it would be approximately 10 years before it would be operational and it would involve 4,000 people during construction and over 1,400 during operation. The plant would be an economic benefit to Green River as well as surrounding counties and cities.
McCandless spoke of the rural fast track grant program. These grants can be used by an established business to expand; the business must be in business for two years and show they are turning a profit. One million dollars has been put into local businesses in rural Utah through the program. The trouble with these grants is they can't be used for a retail business and those businesses tend to need the most help. One question McCandless was asked as they lobbied for money for the Business Expansion and Retention program was if Emery County had a chamber. The legislature knows a strong business chamber is vital to a community. "Chambers are about businesses. If they are driven by businessmen and women then they are successful. We would like to highlight a couple of local businesses we have Cardell Sackett from Heritage Funeral Home and George Hansen from Conductive Composites. I have worked with both these businesses on a number of issues," said McCandless.
Sackett said the Heritage Funeral Home was made possible with the assistance of Mike McCandless and Zion's Bank. "We couldn't have done it without the help of the locals. We tried to contract with local workers and made local purchases in the building of Heritage Home. I am in the 30th year of being a funeral director. I attended school in Phoenix and California. I came here on the request of Greg Fausett. I did funerals in Emery County while working for Fausetts. It's a very rewarding career. How often do we plan for what happens in life? But, how often do we plan for death. We are often caught off guard. If you do a prearrangement, you can write down all your information and pick out a casket and pay for everything and the prices are frozen. Prearranging is a good thing to do for your children. Prearranging is a good thing for something you know is going to happen eventually," said Sackett.
Sackett said they have had two weddings and two Christmas dinners at the facility in addition to funerals. He invited everyone to come and see what Heritage Home has to offer. "It's a comforting place," said Sackett. He also said if you have prearrangements with another funeral home, they can be transferred to Heritage Home.
Hansen's business is Conductive Composites they are located in Heber City and have expanded to Green River and have plans for a facility in Cleveland as well. Hansen said they nickle coat carbon fiber for a number of high tech industries. Hansen demonstrated his product by having someone call his cell phone and it rang. He then placed the telephone within an envelope coated with his product and the telephone wouldn't ring. Once this coating is placed on an object it cannot be penetrated with electromagnetic signals. His products are in demand in the military. Hansen said they like Emery County and the business environment is good for their business. The Department of Defense is very interested in Hansen's products as well as plans for future product lines. The site in Green River is up and running well and they hope to have the site near Cleveland up and running in the near future. Hansen said they take great pride in their products and in developing future technology.
McCandless said Emery County cannot rely on what we've done in the past. We can't always rely on coal. We need to think of things outside of the energy realm. When someone comes to him and wants to build a business from the ground up, he tells them they must be prepared to put everything into that business and making it succeed. If you're not willing to do that, you may not be a true entrepreneur. McCandless said they work to match the resources available with the entrepreneurs. Everybody wins when there is a successful business in the county. It brings in tax dollars. It provides shopping opportunities. McCandless explained the BEAR program and the success it has been for local business.
He explained an event hosted in Carbon County that BEAR was a part of sponsoring. The first year there were 900 people that attended the business expo and this past fall there were 90 businesses and 4.000 people attend. "Everyone benefits from a successful event. One thing we did in BEAR is to visit all the businesses in the two county area. We go to them, because we know they are too busy to come into us. We visit with each business and see what their needs are. We do an outreach. If they have problems or need questions answered then these referrals keep popping up until they are handled. We try not to let anything fall through the cracks. The survey the BEAR workers give is 161 questions and takes one half hour to an hour. We know better what's going on in each business. We have two days to follow up on referrals and we receive reminders until the questions are resolved. BEAR won an award for its work. BEAR is being operated on $38,000 a year. The fast track grants have brought $1,034,000 into our businesses. BEAR is now spreading throughout the state because of our success here. BEAR is part of the tool kit so businesses can survive. We are highly involved to whatever extent the business needs or wants. Sometimes businessmen are good at doing what they do, but not good at the finances. We can step in and get them the help they need. We can help businesses with the Bureau of Land Management and with permitting. We want to help businesses get a leg up and get them going."
Business counseling is also offered. McCandless outlined the film projects which used Emery County as a backdrop. Star Trek, 127 hours, TJ Maxx and others. "The film industry is a nice industry. It's low impact. We are doing a lot of things to promote Emery County including a spot on Delta airlines. We are here to promote you and we play a support role. We want to help people succeed," said McCandless.
Migliori spoke and told what a huge asset Mike is to the county. "He knows what he's doing. No one can keep up with Mike." Migliori works with the Small Business Development Center. They identify businesses that need to grow and help businesses to grow. They compiled numbers for Delynn Fielding at the Carbon County Economic Development office concerning unemployment in the recent recession, the last three to four years the percentage rates for unemployment in Carbon and Emery counties have experienced the lowest increase in Utah. Migliori said the BEAR program has helped stabilize the economy for these two counties. He talked about the shutdowns at the power plants and how local businesses are learning to work with the power plant workers by staying open later and opening earlier. The banks are staying open later to cash checks on payday. "There are a lot of opportunities if you want them. I applaud you the business owners in Emery County for making this a better place to live. I hope opportunities arise so our kids can stay here," said Migliori.
The next Lunch and Learn for the Emery County Business Chamber will be on March 15 at noon at the Museum of the San Rafael. Call the Emery County Progress at 381-2431 to reserve your spot. The luncheon is $12 and will be catered by Kent Wilson at BKs.