The Emery County Economic Development Council met in their monthly meeting. Jo Sansevero, council chairman conducted the meeting. Sansevero said she had requested a list of the top 20 employers in the county from Delena Fish at Workforce Services. Fish provided the list. Sansevero said for the next recruitment activity she would like to focus on existing businesses and see what help they need to expand and grow.
She suggested a meeting where the council invites business owners so the council can learn more about the business. A one day event was suggested at the Castle Valley Ranch where the Roots-n-Boots activity was held in August. This day would include a business presentation, lunch and breakfast and a recreational activity.
Mike McCandless, county economic development director, explained the Bear project. A two day training was held on business expansion and retention. Interviewers go out and ask questions and collect data which is entered into the data base to be used as a tool. The data bank began with the insertion of all the business licenses in Carbon and Emery counties.
"One of the most important aspects of this is the ability to refer those with questions and needs to the appropriate party to get those questions answered," said McCandless.
Nick Tatton has pursued a grant which will help pay the interviewers. The interviewers will have conversation with the business owners and then fill out a form with the information learned. The interviews aren't meant to be just question and answer sessions but, a time to really get to know the business owner and their business.
Lou Sansevero who is on the council and also involved with the Bear project said if during an interview they learn the business is looking at expansion then they can put them in touch with Ethan Migliori who could help with a small business expansion loan. "Part of the problem is businesses don't know where to go for help. This program helps us help them," said Lou.
Jo Sansevero also pointed out the data base must be updated and maintained regularly to remain effective.
Fish said we have a lot of resources in our area that aren't used and this data base will make the resource connection much faster.
The information gathered will also identify trends in employment and other areas.
One trend seen so far with the businesses interviewed was a lot of businesses have lost employees to higher paying industries. McCandless said sometimes we don't have an employee shortage but a wage gap, which employers aren't addressing. In order to retain good employees they need to be willing to pay higher wages than they have in the past. Some businesses are offering cash bonuses and incentives to potential employees.
Ramal Jones, council member, spoke of the need for evaluation of businesses where customers can give feedback. In Carbon County the secret shopper program is being utilized where a shopper gives a rating on customer service in a retail business. A report of that visit is sent to that business and then a follow-up visit is made to determine if any changes have been made. A program of this type might be helpful to Emery County businesses.
The council is still pursuing the development of a more complete website to give information seekers more data about Emery County and opportunities available here.
Jones wondered if the county is getting any closer to having a motel built. He said it's hard to promote any tourism or activities with inadequate lodging on the western end of the county. McCandless said the biggest drawback right now is getting an investor willing to spend that much money. It is approximately $4 million for a 60-70 room motel. The possibility of a corportation formed locally to invest the money for a motel was discussed and the idea will be discussed further at the January 13, 2007 planning meeting.
McCandless reported that he has had three site visits from corporations interested in relocating to Green River. One company was interested in a place with interstate access, rail and water which makes Green River a prime spot. They also wanted to be 100 miles away, at least, from a major metropolitan area. The companies are looking at property which is city, SITLA and private landowners. McCandless reported the companies have told him Green River is number one and two on their list.
Superintendant Kirk Sitterud from the Emery County School District reported the 2008 Boy Scout Jamboree for the Order of the Arrow will be held in Emery County in June 2008. One thousand boy scouts will be here for a week and their home base will be Canyon View Junior High. They will be completing a tamarisk reduction service project on the forest and also on the Swell. John Healy with the U.S. Forest Service is involved in the planning for this big event. Sitterud wondered if the economic development council could be involved and help in any way.
In addition to the service project the scouts will need recreational opportunities. A support group of adults will also be with the scouts. It was determined in December those involved would be invited to the meeting to discuss the jamboree and the role, if any, the council will play. Lou Sansevero would like to get local grocers involved if that's an option for the jamboree.
Sitterud also reported that Green River High has begun construction of a new gym which will be adjacent to their current gym.