|The Economic Development council discusses the summer camps. Gatlin Huntington shows off his dinosaur bone he found at paleo camp as Cameron Stilson watches.|
The future of economic development in Emery County was discussed at the annual planning meeting for the Emery County Economic Development Council. A wrap-up of accomplishments from 2007 and plans for 2008 were heard.
Marc Stilson is the chairman for the education council which is a subcommittee of the economic development council. He reported on the success of the summer camps held. "This was the third year of the summer education camps. Three years ago we as a council decided to try something to aid education in the county. Education is the key to attracting young families with children to an area. I have talked to individuals involved in education for Carbon and Emery County districts," said Stilson.
He reported that he believes Carbon County is outshining Emery County in education. Part of this is due to the charter school and the educational opportunities there.
Stilson said the council wondered what it could do to help somewhere in the education arena. The summer camp idea was pursued and implemented. Stilson said there are plenty of athletic camps for kids, but educational camps and art camps were nonexistent. These camps were designed to give students a real world experience.
The paleontology camp has attracted students from out of the area who came and brought their parents who vacationed and saw the tourist sites in the county while the student attended camp. This type of destination tourism is a bonus from the education camps. "Our students thought it was cool that other students wanted to come here where they live for this experience. We have partnered with the College of Eastern Utah to keep the costs of the camps low. We have expanded the camp program to include: archeology in Range Creek, entrepreneur camp, theatre camp, crime solving camp, dino day camp and science camp," said Stilson.
In Range Creek this was the first year they actually did digging of a site. The other years were spent in mapping and cataloging. The camp students work alongside the students from the field school the University of Utah brings to Range Creek each summer.
Emery County has a world class resource in dinosaurs. It is a real hands on for the students. They actually excavate dinosaur bones. A plaster cast was made of one of the bones found by an Orangeville boy so he would have a copy of what he found.
"This year a boy from Seattle came to the archaeology camp. Their names will be on the records of who did the digging at the site. Over the three year period, 370 students have attended camps along with 40 adult volunteers. There have been 3,750 student instruction hours. This year we received a grant from the governor's office of economic development science division. Our major partners have been the University of Utah, CEU, Emery School District and the applied technology college," said Stilson.
Stilson said he believes the failure of the program has been an inability to engage the education community itself within the county to get involved with the camps. Another problem is the failure to establish a self-sustaining structure.
Stilson discussed the future of the camps and if the council would like to continue them and how to keep them operating. Those present said they would like to see the camps continue. Stilson listed options. A small non-profit business could operate the camps with paid volunteers and a paid staff. The camps could join with an already existing non-profit. The Emery Scholarship Fund could possibly operate the camps as part of their quest to better educate the Emery County students. The camps could remain as a grassroots volunteer organization.
Lou Sansevero was concerned if a for profit business operated the camps the connections with the University of Utah might be jeopardized as Range Creek has a lot of limitations as to the number of students allowed to go in.
Jo Sansevero, council chairman said she has had such good feedback from parents concerning the summer camps. More work needs to be done to make the students aware of the camps and what is being offered. The dates for the camps need to be set farther in advance so students can plan around other activities.
Stilson said the scheduling of the camps is quite difficult because of the many other activities the youth are involved with.
Lou Sansevero said as far as promotion goes, Corrine Springer, who works at Range Creek said she would come to the local schools with a presentation on Range Creek for an assembly. This would educate local students on Range Creek and encourage the older students to attend the archaeology camp.
Conae Black from Green River City said she would approach some retired school teachers in Green River to see if anyone would like to spearhead the camps. Another suggestion was to have one person spearhead the camps and divide the camps under volunteers to see to it the camp was held.
Stilson said they would set up another meeting to discuss the camps further at a later date. Anyone with input or who would like to volunteer to help with the camps should contact him at 748-2340.
Discussion left the camps and turned to the Castle Country Economic Summit. In September the fourth summit was held successfully at the new Events Center in Price. The biggest problem said Jo Sansevero was financially the summit didn't do well and is $4,000 in the hole. The number of attendees was about the same as the other three years which were held in Emery County.
The problem came in the estimates for the number of people attending the dinners. Overestimates led to too much food being purchased and the summit lost money as a result. The summit didn't receive the support of the Carbon County commissioners financially and the summit had to pay for items that in the past were donated by Emery County.
The summit itself was very successful. More than 100 people attended the agriculture classes on the Thursday of the summit. The workshops on Friday were well attended and informative. There were 50 booths at the summit. This number tripled the booths from prior summits.
The 2008 summit will return to Emery County. The location is yet to be determined. One idea was to use the Spartan Center because there would be more room for booths. The dates for the summit would need to be planned around school vacations.
Stilson said one of the reasons the summit was started was to promote a positive business climate in the county. He feels this has been accomplished.
One suggestion was Emery County still needs to look at diversifying its economy. You can't put all your eggs in the energy basket. The energy industry has been filled with highs and lows over the years.
Ethan Migliori said smaller focus groups can be good as everyone has different interests. His interest lies in the business related workshops while other people's interests might lie with agriculture, tourism or energy.
One idea was to have top people in the energy industry come and present new technology.
Mike McCandless, economic development director said the top challenge for businesses today in Carbon and Emery counties is finding and keeping workers. Workers are in short supply. He said you are always more successful if you try to strengthen what you have. "Energy is what's here. It's the social aspect of why people are here," said McCandless.
Jo Sansevero said a workshop focusing on alternative fuels might be helpful in diversification.
McCandless spoke again for growth from within. "If every business added just one job in this county. We wouldn't know what to do with ourselves."
Jo Sansevero said the summit planning committee will meet the third Tuesday of each month at the Workforce Services building in Castle Dale. Anyone wishing to be involved in planning summit 2008 should plan to attend that day at 3 p.m.
McCandless gave the economic forecast for the county. "There's been a remarkable interest in Green River. The challenges have been getting enough acreage for the projects. One of the refineries wanted 620 acres minimum and so far we have 260 acres." He also said some of the neighbors of the project might be able to sell 40 acres which would bring the total to 300 acres.
The industrial park is out of land. Some local land owners say they will not sell any land. SITLA has some land available, 2,500 acres and they are working towards making this land available for development. McCandless said they are actively talking to a business which will bring 10-30 jobs to the area. Some larger companies are also looking at Green River.
The hydrocarbon distillery has received its air quality permit. It looks like something is going to happen there. The Red Leaf company is from out of the Basin and it is an oil shale development company.
On the western end of the county, McCandless is working with a business which would bring 25 jobs initially. Good paying jobs, this company might locate near Ferron or Emery. A movie company is also looking at Emery County for a possible film in the area.
McCandless said the Transient Room Tax revenue increased $25,000 this year over last. He said the Business Expansion and Retention Program has received funding to hire two more workers with the government paying for two workers for every one the BEAR program pays. BEAR workers have found in getting out and doing the interviews the workforce is the greatest challenge right now. BEAR works to strengthen existing businesses.
One other problem is many businesses are on the edge and it is not for lack of revenue. It is a lack of expertise. "It's hard to find business people who know how to do everything." said McCandless.
Business owners need to learn where they lack expertise and get help in those areas to allow their business to keep growing. "Overall I am happy with where things are heading. There are some people taking risk. Things are as good as they have been since the early 80s. It's hard now with the construction costs so high. It's mind boggling how much a building costs," stated McCandless.
Even with costs high McCandless said they are still finding financing and working well with the banks.
A new youth treatment for foster females is going to open in Ferron in the old Presbyterian church.