What's on the horizon for economic development in Emery County? Mike McCandless, Emery County Economic Development Director gave an update to the economic development council on Feb. 7 on projects to keep an eye on in the near future.
McCandless said, "We are still looking at a medical manufacturing business with the potential to employ 50-100 people. We have been looking at sites in Huntington and Castle Dale.
"A coal gasification plant is looking at a site in Carbon and Emery counties. This is big, maybe a $2 billion facility. It is still in the discussion phase. Plans for a bowling alley and skating rink in Castle Dale are finalizing financial and construction issues.
"The Rilda Canyon project permit has been granted and they are waiting for overall mine permit renewal and data from test wells which will be done in mid-February.
"We are working on a couple of bio-diesel projects, one for location in Castle Country and the other to be located in the four corners region. We are also looking for agricultural products and distribution partners. We need growers who would commit to growing the crops used in the bio-diesel process; sunflowers, soybeans, etc. We are planning some test plantings this summer in Emery County to see how these crops perform in the county.
"An ethanol manufacturing plant is in the early discussion. XTO Energy has been approved for the addition of five compressor stations which is a several million dollar project and construction has begun on that.
"Three companies are developing plans to drill test wells for gas along the Skyline Drive, Cottonwood Canyon and Gentry Mountain. If this goes through much needed repairs could be made along the Skyline Drive.
"CEU and the Applied Technology Center has received a $2.7 million grant to develop the energy training center in the old Willow Creek facility. They are currently working with the legislature to secure matching funds for this grant.
"The Huntington/Cleveland irrigation company has put out for bid the first phase on the irrigation project. We are currently working with three restaurateurs interested in the county. EAO Services in Lawrence has purchased addition equipment and are filling orders. This is a computerized machining business.
"We are currently working with an aeronautical products company for consideration of locating in the county. Also we are working with a local software company and currently in Beta tests in three locations. Five wireless companies are looking at significant upgrades in certain parts of the county," said McCandless.
In other areas concerning infrastructure, regulatory and planning and zoning, the following efforts are being made. McCandless is working with the governors office of economic development as well as utility companies on identifying and developing solutions to rural infrastructure issues.
As part of the utility effort it is hoped that the surcharge on natural gas bills for Cleveland and Elmo will be eliminated.
Green River has been selected as a Beta site for the Certified Sites program.
The planning and zoning is working with several cities on revisions to current planning and zoning activities. Huntington and Green River have recently completed Enterprise Zones updates.
Work with the bureau of land management continues on the resource management plan with McCandless and others contributing to the socioeconomic data needed.
The tourism subgroups have been meeting and developing new plans for events and related promotional activities. Green River, Emery County and GREAT are partnering with Utah Travel to leverage $46,000 for out of state tourism efforts.
Three national journalist groups will be traveling through the county on a writing tour and hopefully stories will appear in national newspapers and magazines.
Also a good economic indicator is unemployment at 5 percent with retail sales up 18 percent and construction permits are up significantly in the county.