|The Emery County Economic Development Council Chairman, Marc Stilson leads discussion on goals for 2005.|
The Emery County Economic Development Council met in a special strategic planning meeting for 2005 on Jan. 8. All members agreed the council would like to be involved in something big as a follow-up to the momentum gained with the first economic development summit held in September. Defining what the big project should be and how to bring it about was discussed.
Chairman Marc Stilson welcomed the group and began the exchange of ideas with a list on the board of priorities for 2005. A review was also held of the goals for 2004 and whether or not the council reached those goals. The native sons and daughters program was part of the 2004 plan and hundreds of letters were sent out to former residents of the county inviting them and their business back to the county. Commissioner Drew Sitterud said that the majority of the time when a business relocates to the county it is because of an Emery County connection. The native sons and daughters program works on reinforcing those connections to form a link back to the county.
Summer interns put together the economic development recruitment booklet which can be sent out to people requesting information on the county. The booklet is also available on CD. Council members agreed the booklet was well done. The economic summit was also a goal for 2004 and was well attended and considered a success. The economic summit will be held again in 2005. The council might partner with Carbon County in presenting the summit with the summit being held in Emery County.
The only area lacking in effort for 2004 was the development of the 20 year economic development plan for the county. This will be addressed in 2005 and a committee has been formed to spearhead the effort led by Russ Taylor.
Another successful 2004 project was the newsletter which is being produced by the Emery High business classes. The council would like to see this newsletter be used by several organizations for a calendar of events and updates on current projects.
In 2005, another economic summit will be held and also in 2004 the arts council and education council were formed as offspring of the economic development council. Karen Truman heads up the arts council and Brian Dawes leads the education council and their first meeting was held earlier on Jan. 8 with good progress. A number of goals were listed on the board and then voted on to decide what issues council members felt should be focused on in the coming year.
The voting went in favor of recruitment, infrastructure and agriculture as the basis for focus for 2005.
The council will put together a recruitment package which will include incentives for a business wanting to locate within the county or for an existing business to expand or improve, or for an entrepreneur to begin a new business in the county. The economic development council is able to offer low interest loans to a company and the council will also approach the county to see what it can offer by way of tax breaks and other incentives. Each of the cities will also be approached to see what they can add to the incentive package.
Taylor said when they were beginning their business Live Earth Products in Emery, the town donated three acres of alkali to construct a building to begin the business.
Lou Sansevero who is the economic development council grant writer and staff volunteer employee brought up the idea of having a professional booth put together to set up at trade shows with a possible ad slogan of "Take your business offshore to Emery County." The booth would include all the really good reasons to locate a business in Emery County. The incentive package could also be introduced and available to distribute at such trade shows.
The council also discussed constructing a building. Former economic development director, Rosann Fillmore said they had a spec building on paper and offered to build a building to the specifications of the business looking at coming in.
Deb Dull mentioned the incubator building the county already owns and the grant money that was available to fix it to fit a company's needs. Sansevero also said there is grant money available for brick and mortar projects and he can write the grants if the council members will direct him to the purpose and direction the building would be used.
Growth within the county was discussed and capitalizing on what we already have and turning it into something bigger.
Pat Jones said while growing up in the county his dad operated a feed business and everything they needed had to be shipped in or you had to go to Price to get it. It was his desire to create a hardware store so Emery County people could get the things they need without having to go to Price. He commented on how 85 percent of the money made in Emery County is spent outside the county. He said it's difficult to make a business succeed in Emery County and people have the mind set they need to run to Price to get items that are available here.
Sansevero said he would like to see the county lobby for the prison if it is moved out of the Salt Lake Valley. Sitterud said if it is moved it will be piece by piece. Sansevero suggested making it known that the county would like to pursue it because of the wide open desert space which could be used and the availability of state and federal land in the county.
McCandless said a study on why businesses stay or relocate have the most to do with labor costs, highway accessibility and the labor force, as well as energy costs. Of low interest to businesses was a railroad, airport and proximity to suppliers; the other factors were more important.
McCandless said when a business looks at wages for Emery County the numbers are skewed because of high paying jobs. The jobs are either at one end of the pay scale or the other. Skilled labor sometimes presents a problem, too.
Fillmore said when the Satellite Systems first came in it was hard to find people who could type more than 33 words per minute. Ninety percent of successful businesses sell to other businesses.
Delena Fish said the Workforce Services can target industries and offer training and they have funding available to do that.
Committees were formed to bring to fruition the goals set forth. It was decided that a representative from each city should be involved in the planning for the 20 year economic development plan.
Truman reported on the newly formed arts council. She said she has been writing a series of articles in the Emery County Progress newspaper on the arts in the settlement of Emery County.
She is hoping to regenerate interest in the arts and will have an open public meeting to seek those wishing to become involved.
She is also looking for any Green River people who would like to be involved in the arts council. Plans are underway for a Spring Fling Arts Show which showcases local talent in the performing arts as well as items for display from artisans in the county. Plans are also underway for a holiday concert next December with talented instrumentalists and vocalists. Truman is contacting Mack Wilberg from the Mormon Tabernacle Choir to see if he would be available to participate and plan around his schedule.
Truman is working to acquire land for a performing arts center. She would like the land to be in Castle Dale which is centrally located in the county. She said if land can be acquired she has someone who will help get the money for the construction.
The economic development council would also like to run some ads in the Salt Lake papers promoting the county. With the ad showing someone in a traffic jam and then showing an Emery County traffic jam with ducks crossing the road or something along those lines.
It was also determined that an evaluation team would want to have input on any businesses who might take advantage of the incentives package, because there might be some businesses we don't want here, and the county can be selective. It was determined that an asset inventory be updated as far as an infrastructure evaluation to see what the county already has in place. McCandless will work on this update.
Kathleen Truman talked about the opportunities available in agriculture. Producers can look at producing the products for the value added beef which include alfalfa and grain. Also diversification of crops is another avenue.
The irrigation project coming up for the northern end of the county could be viewed as an economic opportunity.
All the pipe has to be ordered from out of the area and an opportunity exists for local contractors to do as much of the work as possible. The Huntington/Cleveland salinity project is estimated to be approximately $61 million.