Building economy is about building good relationships with business, director says
Last week Carbon County Economic Development Director Tami Ursenbach addressed the local business community, outlining her philosophy about business growth. In a direct manner, she told county's chamber of commerce that economics are about building relationships, and that any good relationship is built on trust.
Ursenbach began by going over how her economic team sold a small town in Idaho to a re-locating business. The catch was that the business had all but agreed to move their firm to Logan.
Over the course of several weeks, the ability of Ursenbach's economic development team to build a relationship with this business won them over. Because their property could not compete with what was in Logan, Ursenbach found a piece of property in Idaho that suited their needs and far outweighed the population and infrastructure advantages in Logan.
After discussing how driven she is to bring new industry to the area, the director made it clear that the right type of business and growth can be more important than no growth.
"The trust and relationships I am speaking of means that you work to bring in businesses that will benefit the existing economy and neighborhoods in this community," she said.
According to Ursenbach, one area she had worked with refused to build a prison while she was economic director. Despite the benefits of the institution, she explained that prisons tend to encourage former inmates to re-locate to the area where the prison is. A prison also encourages the families of inmates to follow them, she said.
"A large portion of these people are unemployed which is not good for your economy," she explained. "I want to find businesses that cause growth, businesses that are good for Carbon County."
While it is easy to talk about bringing industry to the area, it is another thing to get it done. So to draw businesses toward the Castle Country, Ursenbach has started the development of new marketing materials which will include video of the area and its officials to go along with printed items to be used by tourism professionals.
Ursenbach also talked about conducting an intensive inventory of the area and its assets, researching the land to find out if there is a five to six thousand square foot building available with rail, water and electricity or if there are zoning issues which could cause problems for a particular business.
Speaking of Carbon County's dependence on the energy industry, Unrsenbach talked about her plans to search out manufacturing companies that are different from the traditional market.
She spoke of the need to diversify the area's economy, something that is often discussed but rarely accomplished. These plans are more vital than ever as Carbon County has lost more than half of it's coal mining jobs in past three years, according to county statistics.
The new director plans to use her contacts from from Idaho, California and everywhere in between to help accomplish the diversification which could stabilize the area's economy.
It is her hope that marketing the area's ever growing resources will let prospective buyers know about the potential that is waiting in Utah's Castle Country.
"When I first visited I was thinking, what is Carbon County? I found that there is so very much more here than I ever expected and there is so much to love," she said.
Ursenbach went over the drawing power of the fairgrounds, the event center, the senior center, Nine Mile Canyon and the airport. In her mind these assets alone hold a major drawing power for potential businesses. She also commented that while the Idaho area she came from had their own Business Expansion and Retention Program, the BEAR program here is more progressive and motivated.
Ursenbach stressed the support given to economic development by city and county officials is as intense as she has seen. The time they have spent with her is impressive, she said.
"I fell in love with this area from the first time I came here," said Ursenbach.
Her task then, is to see if she can get others to love it here as well.