The Emery County Business Chamber January Lunch and Learn featured Commissioner Ethan Migliori speaking on economic development for 2014.
Board member Jared Anderson encouraged all to join the business chamber. "We are trying to get as many people involved as possible. Meeting people and networking is a benefit to local business. In March we will be holding the installation banquet. Spencer Cox the new Lt. Gov. will be the guest speaker. He will outline what the state is doing for business in rural Utah. The business chamber allows business owners to be heard. I love to hear about the business spotlights. We've covered a variety of topics in the Lunch and Learn meetings like tourism, substance abuse and local issues. The Shop Local campaign gives discounts and we have prize drawings. If you're not a chamber member, we'd love to have you."
Migliori gave the economic update, "We are grateful to Stewart's Market and to Maverik. We appreciate their efforts to step forward and hire locally and support the community. They are a huge help to our economies. There has been a huge surge in petroleum and there are a number of companies involved in petroleum. When the BLM pulled the 53 leases, that created a problem for companies that were counting on those leases. It caused many companies to lose money."
Migliori said there is frustration when the government doesn't follow its own rules. Hopefully these leases will be put out for bid in the future. One company spent $2 million in studies only to have the leases withdrawn.
The oil refinery in Green River is moving along. They plan on investing $230 million to get the railyard up and running along with the refinery facility. When operable it will produce 15,000 barrels per day. They will begin with light crude and will add heavy crudes such as bearing grease. The more refined the oil, the higher price it will bring on the market. The project will be completed in three phases. It will bring in 130 jobs, not counting the support industries that will be needed including trucking. The refinery will offer good paying jobs and will need a skilled labor force.
Commissioner Jeff Horrocks has been working with a consortium from seven counties to bring in two pipelines to the area. One coming out in the Ridge Road area and the other coming from the Book Cliffs. This will bring crude into the area for refining. Within a year they will be starting on those pipelines. The economic development departments from each of the counties are working together on projects where all can benefit.
The tire recycling business outside of Huntington will take shredded tires and cook them to retrieve the oil from them. They are looking to partner with USU Eastern to produce a coke briquette also. That facility will begin operation this year.
A company is also looking to put a coal to liquid, coal to diesel plant along Ridge Road.
Work continues to bring natural gas to outlying rural areas. Emery, Lawrence, Elmo and Green River. Pipelines are close to these areas, but installation costs are prohibitive. In Green River the pipeline is five miles away and Questar said it would cost $35 million to run a line into Green River. Legislation is being proposed that will bring these costs more into line with what rural communities can afford.
Commissioner Migliori said it's a real draw back that Green River doesn't have natural gas. When all the communities have natural gas it will bring more opportunities into the county.
Helium projects are being proposed near Wellington and Green River.
Migliori said money has come into the county through the BEAR program, Fast Track grants and economic gardening. But, one large shutdown like Consol can come in and wipe out jobs and cripple the economy.
The sales tax decreased $60,000 in Castle Dale alone. Shopping local saves money in the long run. Tax monies will stay local to help with the local infrastructure.
Tourism is still growing in Emery County. The transient room tax has gone up each year. These monies go into a specific pot of money to promote tourism and to complete tourism related projects. There is another hit to state parks expected in the upcoming legislature which could affect the Green River State Park. The information center at the Buckhorn has about 68 vehicles stop there each weekend. The publicity Goblin Valley has received lately has increased the number of visitors to the state park. A horror film project is being filmed in Emery and Carbon counties.
Commissioner Migliori said there are some bright spots in the future for Emery County.