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Price city endorses county's economic development plan

By C.J. MCMANUS
Sun Advocate reporter

During the Nov. 21 Price council meeting, Carbon econmic development director Delynn Fielding detailed the county's economic development strategy.

The Price council accepted the county's plan and adopted the strategy as the city's economic development initiative.

The county's plan has been in development since summer 2006.

The strategy was developed by a panel comprised by Carbon County Chamber of Commerce members, at large business owners and local government officials.

The economic development council was charged with prioritizing nine countywide initiatives, then deciphering the goals and strategies for immediate implementation in the community.

The outline of the county's plan includes.

•Retaining and expanding businesses.

The goal for the initiative is to increase existing employment in non-energy related businesses to diversify the local economy.

To accomplish the goal, the county is fully activating the Castle Country business expansion and retention project. The county will implement an active and functional import substitution program.

The import substitution program will identify products and services that are being imported into the county.

The substitution program will work toward finding the means to provide the imported products and services from businesses operating within the county.

•Increasing technical and advanced education services,

The goal for the initiative is to expand the scope and reach of the South Eastern Applied Technology College and encourage the development of College of Eastern Utah to a four-year state higher education institution.

To accomplish the goal, the county plans to increase capacity for scholarships using loans that would convert to grants for students who remain in the area and obtain local employment after graduation.

•Expanding transportation and essential services.

The goal for the initiative is to improve access in all modes of transportation within as well as in and out of the economic service area.

To achieve the objective, the county plans to lobby state and federal leaders for additional U.S. Highway 6 improvement funding.

Officials will also lobby for funding to improve access to water resources, primarily secondary irrigation in unserved areas of Carbon County.

•Improving the quality of public and community education.

The goal for the initiative is to enhance the quality of education in public schools and foster community education opportunities.

Additionally the county would like to establish a community education council to advise kindergarten through 12 and higher education administration as well as provide a unified marketing effort for all educational opportunities in the area.

•Preserving as well as improving quality of life and related amenities.

The goal is to maintain a progressive approach consistent with established community amenities.

The strategy is to accurately identify favored cultural, heritage and recreation resources and then facilitate community discussion in order to prioritize improvement and investment projects.

•Increase economic development capability. The goal for this initiative will be to increase the communities overall economic development capability to fully utilize the strengths and resources of both public and private sectors. The strategy here is to increase professional training of all public and private sector economic development practitioners including planning and zoning officials and research grant funding for development activity where available and appropriate.

•Business attraction, the goal here is to attract a diversified cadre of businesses in both energy and non-energy related industries. To do this the county will solicit business attraction training and assistance from the Economic Development Council of Utah (EDCUtah) and the Governor's Office of Economic Development. Additionally the county plans to research, inventory and package existing land, buildings, transportation, utility and zoning costs to develop commercial and industrial areas and facilities to improve "growth readiness."

•Develop industrial and business sites, the county's goal is to develop improved industrial, business and commercial sites that are attractive to business location decisions and develop specs for buildings available for immediate use and occupancy. The county's strategy to make this happen includes actively redeveloping unused and underused properties. It also includes visiting local sites with representatives from EDCUtah.

•Communicate and promote the strategic plan. To ensure that this strategic plan is full implemented and all local governmental economic development decisions are consistent with these goals the county will present this strategic plan to all public officials for official comment and adoption. Additionally the county will continue to revise and readjust the plan via the economic development council.

According to Fielding, last year the county started to see retail and population changes. It is his feeling that if we don't plan correctly for the growth we expect will be coming to our area will fall prey to the historical boom and bust cycle we have seen every 10 to 15 years.

"We have the opportunity for diversification, but if we don't address the problems we have with workforce availability, it won't happen," stated Fielding.

The unemployment rate in Carbon County right now is 2.5 percent. While that statistic sounds great it causes problems for firms that are either considering relocating here or are considering expanding their current operation. At the rate of 2.5 percent unemployment, there is literally no available workforce for expanding business or relocating new ones.

However the east Price annexation and the residential projects planned there could add sizable population and workforce possibilities to the area.

The council inquired as to what they can do to foster this initiative.

"You are doing it now" said Fielding. "The industrial park and east Price annexation are big steps toward taking advantage of our current position," Fielding concluded.






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