The Emery County Economic Development council held its 2006 planning meeting on Jan. 19 at the county building. The purpose of the meeting was to determine direction for the new year and to identify focus projects.
The council voted to approve the placement of an ad in the Business Utah magazine. This ad will be a full page advertising Emery County as an ideal place to locate a business. The main focus of the ad would be the rural lifestyle available in the county.
Council chairman Jo Sansevero went over some of the focus points from 2005. Recruiting a new business and helping existing businesses was a focus of the council. Helping retail businesses attract tourist dollars and spend money in the county has also been explored. Marketing has been a big concern and local businesses need to develop marketing skills.
Recruiting initiatives, agriculture, tourism, arts and education, events planning and small business support, and the economic summit have all been worked on by the council for 2005. Those involved in each of these areas gave reports on the steps taken in these areas. Marc Stilson reported on the native sons and daughters program where former residents of the county are invited back to the county to start a business or bring a business with them. If that isn't possible then monetary support and funding a project or activity is explored.
Each month the county receives five-10 requests for proposals from companies looking to relocate in Utah. Most of these requests want access to a major airport within 30 minutes which excludes Emery County from being considered. Stilson said the approach the council has taken is to encourage a small or midsize business to come into the county.
"Eighty percent of growth comes from internal growth of existing companies, but we can't ignore the potential for new businesses," said Stilson. Stilson reported the council is going to sponsor an executive retreat and invite native sons and daughters to the Castle Valley Ranch and host recreational activities and information sessions to share pertinent information about the county.
Kathleen Truman reported on the agriculture committee and the council's commitment to maintain green space and value added agriculture. A successful seminar was held with Nyman beef and hay growers in Green River and Castle Dale. Farmers were encouraged to take better care of their hay to increase its value. Jay Olsen spoke at the economic summit on managing a farm or ranch as a business. This year for the summit they are thinking of a different approach and having a speaker from the agriculture support group as ranchers and farmers are too busy in the fall to attend the summit.
Mike McCandless spoke of the partnership with Utah State parks in increasing visitors to the state parks and the county. When the Goblin Valley Marathon was held Goblin Valley received day use fees from the 88 runners who participated.
Connie Copenhauver sent out welcome kits to all of those registered for the marathon with golf coupons and discounts for motels and restaurants in Green River.
McCandless reported it was a good year in the county with a 15 percent increase in the Transient Room Tax funds. He also said that economic clusters with all the businesses needed to support an industry or tourist activity should be considered. Owen Price said that people come here and use our facilities but don't spend much money here and we need to do things to get them to stay. County residents need to be friendly and encourage people to stay.
Jack Rogers reported on the education camps held in the county and the school district helped provide scholarships to attend the camps to the Emery County students. A theatre camp, science camp and paleontological camps were held. For the paleo camp, six students attended with three from out of the state. A boy from Delaware attended the camp while his family toured the area.
The council is very interested in promoting this type of tourism and education camps. The students did two days of field work and then worked in the College of Eastern Utah lab. The education camps were a bargain as far as prices of camps go.
Deb Dull from Utah Power suggested advertising the education camps now because this is the time people plan their vacations.
Ramal Jones said these types of camps also hold an interest for adults and some camps including adults should also be considered. Jones also volunteered to help with the paleo camp because this is an area of expertise for him. Jones and wife Carole each have dinosaurs named for them which they discovered.
Camps that may be added this year include a Range Creek archaeology camp, a music camp and a crime scene camp. Rogers said he thinks the science camp will help build an interest in science among the younger kids. The elementary age students who attended the theatre camp also entered their projects in the county fair.
Copenhauver reported they are trying to convince the commissioners to instate the restaurant tax which would help cover the costs to fund an events planner. The events coordinator would help people wishing to sponsor events in the county cut through the red tape with the agencies involved.
Delena Fish, with the business committee said the newly formed committee will help support and unify businesses and help them grow from within. They will also connect businesses to other businesses and let what's available within the county to be more widely known so businesses can use each other for supplies and it will help identify resources.
Sansevero reported the 2005 summit was a success and the 2006 summit is planned for Oct. 12-13. Partnering on the summit with Carbon County was a good idea and plans to include them this year as well are underway.
Those present at the planning meeting split into separate groups to discuss the categories presented.
In the education camps discussion, school board chairman, Laurel Johansen expressed a comment she had heard recently concerning the opportunities afforded the students in smaller schools. They can be involved in everything. "We have a lot to offer here. We need to look at the opportunities available here and market that. We need to emphasize and utilize the talents in our communities," She also commented that getting teachers involved in the education camps would be a vital part of the success of the camps. Teachers involved with students each day can generate an interest in the camps with the students.
It was mentioned that the county doesn't capitalize on the interest in dinosaurs by holding seminars, camps and other educational opportunities surrounding paleontology.
Johansen said that Duane Merrell, Castle Dale resident and professor at BYU brings a group of science teachers to the county each year. They meet and stay in the county and tour the area.
The need to target executives who already have an interest in the county was discussed. Castle Valley ranch is bringing in executives all the time and the information about the county needs to get to these people visiting our county.
Using a big name to attract attention to an event in the county was also considered. The council is considering asking Shawn Bradley to conduct a half day basketball camp in the area.
The tourism subgroup said groups of people are already coming to the county and getting them to stay multiple days is the key with packages and events. One idea is to encourage attendance at the Arapeen ATV Jamboree and then stay over for Peach Days.
The tourism group is going to make sure information gets out to tourists at the trade shows. Also Emery County is now included in the marketing package for Moab for the film industry.
The committee also said more bill boards need to be utilized in advertising what lies beyond Price to educate tourists about what's available in Emery County.
The business committee wants to encourage employer support and gather information from employers concerning their needs. Coordination between existing businesses in regards to services available and utilizing in-county resources. The committee also wants to address the aging workforce and encourage youth to consider vocational work.
Kent Wilson said that all students are encouraged to get a college degree, but eight out of 10 jobs in Utah do not require a college degree. Someone will go into the schools and encourage students to train for those positions. Also drug education will be considered because many of those applying for jobs cannot pass a drug test. The need for earlier talk about jobs in schools and job fairs was discussed.
Fish suggested just an information fair with a lot of job related information might be helpful.
The economic development council meets the first Tuesday of each month at 7:30 a.m. All interested people are encouraged to attend. The next meeting will be held Feb. 7 at 7:30 a.m.