Last week Utah Governor Gary Herbert addressed the state of the state, touting a state economy trending upward despite fear over federal regulation and spending. Similarly, statistics and investment trends in Carbon County outline impressive growth and diversification in the face of ongoing challenges within the energy sector.
"We have seen a significant investment in local business as well as brick and mortar projects," said Price City Community Development Director Nick Tatton. "There are quite a few new businesses opening in town and building permit numbers are up in Price City, both in terms number and value."
According to Tatton, nearly $16 million has been invested in the area's economy recently, not counting upcoming projects planned between Price City and USU Eastern. This sizable investment, coupled with the tax base it creates, lends credence to those who see an uptrend concerning Carbon County's economic future.
In the Castle Rock Square, Autozone subcontractors have nearly finished the building's exterior walls, moving forward their $1 million investment. The Jackson Dental Office accounted for another $1 million, he said.
Sporting goods specialists Big 5 and Hibbett Sports opened their doors in late 2012 with $250,000 and $200,000 invested respectively. Big 5 and Hibbett poured their capital into renovating existing city structures, providing both a facelift and economic boost.
The Utah Power Credit Union on 100 North brought another $1 million investment, erecting a new structure near downtown Price. New residential properties are also on their way as the third building of town homes at Parklane accounts for an additional $300,000 investment in the local economy.
Most noticeably perhaps, The Eastgate Apartments project, located south of the Castle Rock Square on Highway 55 is in full swing. The upcoming gated complex signaled a $12 million investment and will provide additional income-based housing.
According to Tatton, Price city is currently negotiating with a hotel developer as well, hoping to bring additional lodgings to the area. He also reported that youth clothing store Rue 21 along with a Great Clips franchise will be opening soon.
"One of the more honest barometers for positive economic growth is the fact that many of these businesses sought the area out with little or no solicitation," explained Tatton. "We didn't go out there and sell these companies and investors on Price or Carbon County. They developed interest on their own."
While the investments do show a trend toward growth, the area's economy was born by the energy industry and continues to live in its light.
"We have been forced into being a bit more diversified than we were ten to fifteen years ago, concluded Tatton. "The amount of manpower needed to mine coal or produce other energy related resources has diminished. However, even concerning our local energy sector, continued diversification is breeding new business."