Spurring Development: Third annual Castle Country Economic Summit fosters growth of rural businesses
|During the summits local session EAO System's owner discusses his companies new machining systems.|
For three years now all of Castle Country has been coming together to learn how to foster economic development in Castle Country. The event was conducted at the Museum of the San Rafael and the Emery County Court House for the second straight year.
It began last Thursday with a meet and greet dinner at the Castle Valley Ranch, with the summit taking place the following day. The theme for the event was "Spurring Development" and the summit went a long way to do exactly that in the Castle Valley.
The dutch oven dinner was prepared courtesy of Range Management. With entertainment provided by Val Jensen's band and cowboy poets Kent Petersen and friends. The dinner was a great way to give summit participants a way to get to know one another before the conference portion of the summit began.
The Castle Valley Ranch provided a great venue for such an event. During the dinner, tours of the facility were available and the fire pit welcomed all who wanted to stay late.
Friday's summit started with breakfast and an address from Patrick Malone, rural economic development guru from Washington State University. Malone currently serves a six county region comprised of small towns and rural communities. He serves as an adjunct professor for Washington State University (WSU). Malone has extensive work experience with citizen and legislative bodies, elected officials, voluntary community boards and commissions, and ecumenical bodies.
Malone also has extensive teaching, research and management experience in city planning, civic entrepreneurship and community design.
These qualifications made him perfectly suited to deliver the mornings address. Malone's address, titled "Growing vibrant and entrepreneurial communities," set the stage for the theme that would run through the entire summit. He emphasized the view that the local economy must grow from within.
In order to accomplish this Malone started with detailing a three point plan of action.
Town building: Here he spoke of the importance of education and developing what he calls our "human capital." Communities must prepare individuals to be able to step into leadership rolls as entrepreneurs. Social science research has substantially documented the importance of highly trained and talented human capital.
Community Building: "This consists of weaving together all human, social and physical community assets," according to Malone. He continued to state that this is an essential stage of development that is often overlooked in favor of racing to recruit and relocate new business.
"You have to collate all your assets as a community if you want to succeed," concluded Malone.
|Members of the Governor's Office of Economic Development (GOED) including Michael Deaver deputy director of the governor's tourism department discuss the success of the breakout sessions at Friday's Castle Country Economic Summit. |
Entrepreneurship: This consists of the highest level of community evolution "where people are using the resources around them to start there own business from within," stated Malone.
This is the platform that allows communities to move beyond their physical and natural resource capital. Communities like Tupelo, Miss. (which was central in his address), have created an entire culture of entrepreneurship.
Malone's problem with most economic development in rural communities is that they focus on and are organized around business recruitment.
He provided statistics showing that only 1 percent of all new jobs come from business recruitment/relocation, while 55 percent of new jobs come from business expansion and 44 percent from business start-ups.
Fortunately for the local economy, Castle Country is ahead of the curve with the Business Expansion and Retention Project.
BEAR will have a local training session on Oct. 19 and Oct. 20.
After Malone set the stage, economic summit attendees separated into breakout sessions.
Summit planners used a three track format to ensure that participants had a wide variety of information to choose from.
Track one focused on taking an idea you might have for a business and making it a reality.
The first session of the track was titled "What's the Big Idea." Mike McCandless, Emery County's director of economic development, helped potential business owners dissect their ideas to see if they have potential for success in the area.
|The Castle Valley Ranch's beauty added greatly to the relaxing atmosphere of Thursday's dinner. |
McCandless also shared a list of business potentials that he feels may go over well in Castle Country.
In the second session, Ethan Migliori, director of the small business development center, showed participants how to take their idea and write a business plan for it.
In the third session's conclusion, Delynn Fielding, director of economic development for Carbon County, demonstrated the process required for financing the business after developing the plan.
The Utah Governor's Office of Economic Development (GOED) was in heavy attendance at the summit.
The second track in the break-out sessions was highlighted by a branding seminar given by Mike Deaver, the deputy director of the governor's tourism office.
During the seminar, Deaver spoke of other branding concepts that have been successful in the past such as "I love New York" and "Virginia is for lovers."
The governor's office hopes state economic development officials can find similar success with "Life Elevated" in Utah, noted the agency representatives.
According to Deaver, "We need to develop a more definable identity in Utah," pointed out Deaver.
He views branding as the best way to accomplish the objective.
When polled, the majority of the individuals who do not live in the state mistake many of Utah signature attractions such as Bryce Canyon and Monument Valley as being located in Arizona.
|Summit organizer Jo Sansevero and Castle Valley Ranch owner Glendon Johnson welcome summit participants to Thursday's dutch oven dinner. |
"When people hear the phrase 'Life Elevated' we want them to see the excitement and beauty that is Utah," said Deaver.
When people on the East Coast are presented with all that Utah has to offer they comment that there is no way all of the shown locations can be in one state.
"We need to make all that is exciting about Utah known outside of the state," concluded Malone.
Delivering the afternoon address was Jason Perry, director of the governor's office of economic development.
GOED oversees economic development in the state, the office of tourism and the Utah Film Commission.
Perry presented the governor's plan to bolster economic development in rural Utah.
The governor's rural partnership has come up with a plan including a cluster initiative.
Economic clusters are groups of related businesses and organizations within industry sectors whose collaborations can result in sustainable advantages for local economy.
As energy and natural resources are currently a designated cluster, the situation is promising for Castle Country businesses.
"Often these businesses are out there by themselves, by being able to connect with a broader network of businesses they will be light years ahead of where they are currently," pointed out Les Prall, a representative from the governor's office of economic development in attendance at the local event.
The summit concluded with the local session, where businesses detailed how they have achieved recent successes.