|Congressman Jim Matheson receives an appreciation gift from Emery County Commissioner Gary Kofford. Congressman Matheson recently secured funds for the South Moore cut-off road project.|
Congressman Jim Matheson paid a visit to Emery County during one of his favorite times of the year-lamb fry time in the county. Matheson said he enjoys coming to the county as he met with businessmen in the area. Matheson said he is always interested in bringing input from the people back to Washington. He was impressed with the number of people attending the meeting with it being held on a Saturday afternoon. Matheson encouraged the audience to keep the dialogue going and contact his office with questions and concerns.
Matheson identified economic development as his primary goal and stressed its importance for the state. One other area of importance to Matheson is roads. He said the highway bill designating $7.5 million for the completion of the South Moore cut-off road was recently signed. Another issue he helped solve was designating SR-6 as a high priority corridor which qualified the road for federal funding.
Matheson said he is an advocate for people and helping to look for ideas and ways to make people succeed. "I believe in nurturing existing businesses also. Economic development is not a partisan issue and we need to work together to make it work."
Pam Juliano is Matheson's representative in the Emery/Carbon county area, she had invited many small business owners to share their story with Matheson. Randy Jones from Randy's repair shared his story of his farm equipment repair business. He started in 1977 and they buy, sell and trade equipment new and used. He said they try to be competitive and invite people to check out their prices. Randy's Repair will take the refurbished equipment to the field and set it up and they even warranty their used equipment. Currently they have outgrown their present location and are looking to expand. They would like to find funding to help them move to a better location. Jones said one of his biggest concerns is in being able to provide his employees with health insurance. He said the price of health insurance is too much for a small business like his.
Matheson said he is always asked about health insurance and he isn't sure what's going to happen with health care but things can't go on as they are with escalating costs. "We just can't sustain it," said Matheson.
Mike McCandless, Emery County Economic Development Director said they need to find ways for private investors with venture capital to invest in Emery County and bring that venture capital money to Emery County.
Delena Fish from Workforce Services said one frustration they have in funding sources is the income criteria and other requisites for people to qualify for programs that would be beneficial. She would like to see a loosening of such regulations. Fish gave the comparison in the energy field that in the next 10 years will be turning over their entire workforce and a new workforce needs to be trained and able to step into those positions that will be vacated when the retirements occur. In some coal mines the average age is 46-48 years of age or older.
Karl Kraync told of the loan program for small business in the area, SUSABEF, and the businesses in the four county area that came into existence through this loan program and how with 92 businesses and 3.5 years later 67 percent of those 92 businesses are still in business and expanding. Kraync said they help businesses with a small grant to bring a business up off the ground at a time when they need it.
One of those businesses that benefitted from those funds was the Star Theatre. Janice Mounteer from the theatre told of the new expansion project they are planning for a Fun Center and Malt Shoppe. She said they are interested in giving back to the community and creating a place for families to gather.
Mounteer also said they attended one of the NexLevel trainings and it was very helpful. She said it would be good if they had a follow-up course to that class for further instruction. "We put our heart and soul into our business," said Mounteer.
Kevin Casey from DBT America said they supply parts to underground mining and they have put a significant investment into Huntington. They have found a good workforce here and the younger workforce wants to be able to stay in the area. Casey said 90 percent of his employees grew up in the Carbon/Emery area.
Sharon Earl from Earl's Furniture and Appliance said she recently returned from a furniture show in Las Vegas and she was concerned about the lack of furniture manufacturing in America. She is finding the quality isn't as good with the furniture made overseas, but the manufactures have found they can ship the materials overseas to have the product put together and then shipped back cheaper than it can be manufactured in America. These foreign manufacturing jobs take jobs away from Americans.
Matheson said jobs going overseas is a real problem for the American workforce.
Dale Fillmore from DEO Services explained what they do in their business. They are a high tech machine shop which develops and manufactures products. They have developed a brake for use underground on the man trips which lasts longer than traditional brakes and meets all MSHA regulations.
Fillmore said any help in moving the MSHA process along for approval of products for use underground would be helpful. It has taken two years to get an engine approved.
The Fillmores have room to grow and hope someday to expand their business. They expressed a need for financing for medium sized companies and interim help so the company can expand.
Mike Dunwoody said he recently bought an old motel in Green River that he wishes to use for an incubator site.
Currently it is housing a hair shop and a video game room and he's hoping other businesses will locate there.
He sees the tourism in Green River as too cyclic with people working very hard during the tourist season and having too little to do during the off season.
Deb Dull from Utah Power said the addition of a scrubber at Huntington Plant number two will bring money into the local economy and future overhauls at the plants will add to the economy.
Kent Wilson from BKs Stop-n-Shop said he just doesn't have the buying power that the large companies do and it's really hard to compete with the Wal-Marts.
Commissioner Gary Kofford made a presentation to Rep. Matheson.
He thanked him for his work on getting the funding for the Moore cut-off road.
He gave him a book about Emery County and presented him with a gift made by Jay Frandsen of Castle Dale.
The gift included hand chipped flint knife blades and pictures from Native American artwork.