Specialist reviews VISTA, BEAR partnership
Carbon County Business Expansion and Retention board members heard from Volunteers in Service to America representative April Durrant at an executive session last Friday.
Durrant, state program specialist for National Community Service Corporation's volunteer groups, updated the local economic board concerning their continued partnership and compliance with VISTA regulations.
Americorp's VISTA teams work to provide long-term solutions to poverty issues through the provision of full-time members that will work for community organizations and public agencies to create and expand programs that bring low-income individuals and communities out of poverty.
The group leverages human, financial and material resources to increase the capacity of thousands of low-income areas across the county to address challenges and improve their lives and communities, according to the Americorp site.
"They leave behind lasting solutions to some of our country's toughest problems," concluded their online mission statement.
Poverty being a relative term, the volunteers who work for the BEAR project perform the group business interviews and then enter that information into an existing database. They also assist with follow up work and perform any clerical work needed by the group.
"We have a real identification and branding problem with VISTA," said Durrant. "If you go out their and ask someone what a VISTA is they tell you it's a Bill Gates operating system, people just don't know how much these volunteers do for communities."
For that reason, Durrant encouraged all current local volunteers to introduce themselves as VISTAs working for a specific organization, not as a part of that organization. She also asked that they wear decals and pins that identified them as VISTAs.
There are 16 of the Americorp volunteers working in the Carbon and Emery area and the three that have been working for BEAR have been invaluable to the project.
"Because of their service we have been able to take our project to another level," said BEAR board member Delynn Fielding. "We have done as many surveys this year as we had done in the previous two and it is because of what the VISTAs have done for us."
For three years now the BEAR project has been seeking out and aiding local business through their comprehensive interview and referral program. The project has added significant growth and retention packages to many local retailers, manufacturers and other forms of business.
They recently sent out 360 degree surveys to individuals who are part of the project to get a better feel for how it is perceived.
Additionally, the group has been working with the Downtown Alive project to produce a sales seminar for area businesses. The program is to be called "Keys to Selling Success" and will be put on by Custom Fit Administrator Ethan Migliori.
"We have met with the Downtown Alive people and set up a proposed date," said Migliori. "The seminar will focus on helping those who attend to expand their skills as far as understanding their policies and procedures, knowing their products and closing a sale."
With Christmas at hand, the seminar could be pushed toward the first Wednesday in February.
The group also discussed the success of the partnership with Four Corners Behavioral Health concerning a substance abuse seminar that was brought to the area earlier in the year.
Specifically BEAR came together with Liz Ferguson and the States Prevention Framework States Incentive Grant project to put on a methamphetamines and prescription drug abuse education program that was tailored to families, medical providers and mental health specialists.
Lastly the group discussed their coming economic development schedule which includes meetings that will detail how the national economic crisis is effecting local customer mind sets.
"We need to promote optimism," said boardmember Karl Kraync. "We need to show that even though the country is going through a tough time, things are still going relatively well in Castle Valley."
The group also addressed rumors concerning coal mining in the Carbon and Emery area.
"I have been asked repeatedly about the new president and what we are going to do if he shuts down coal mining in Utah," commented Fielding. "And I have told them that coal mines and coal mining are long-term projects. I let them know that Obama can do what he wants but 50 percent of the nations energy is still provided by coal. Lila Canyon is going to open so we are going to have another mine in the area and that means another 200 jobs."