|The Carbon County Airport is one of the most important assets the county has toward economic development says the counties economic director DeLynn Fielding. An air based industrial park is a possibility at the site.|
In a recent presentation to the Price River Water Districts board, DeLynn Fielding, the county's economic development director went over some figures concerning Carbon's economy and then also covered some of the things various entities in the county are doing to increase economic activity here.
Figures recently released show that in most categories, the first half of 2003 was still down from that same period in 2002. Total gross sales within the county for the first half of last year was $171,383,845 while this year those figures reflected an almost $10 million dollar drop to $161,796,873.
When sales are broken down into seven categories, five of the total were lower this year than last. Mining sales dropped from $11,631,110 to $8,844,036 for a $2,787,074 loss.
In the area of wholesale durable goods, Carbon's sales fell by $8,678,065 in the first half of the year. In the first half of last year the county made sales of $30,324,334 while in the first six months of this year the sales only totaled $21,646,269.
Sales of electricity and gas were also down between the beginning of January and the end of June. In those months last year the county sold $10,954,767. The first half of this year the sales amounted to $9,575,046 for a decrease of $1,379,721.
Vehicle sales in the county were also down. Last year $22,686,900 in vehicles were sold, while this year in the first two quarters $21,537,740 was sold for a decrease of $1,149,160.
The final category that decreased was food. In the first half of 2002 sales of food in the county amounted to $16,679,716, while this year the sales amounted to $12,413,866 for a loss of $4,265,850.
Two categories of sales in the county, however increased in the first half of this year.
First, general merchandise sales increase substantially with the first half of 2002 measuring $24,395,827 and the first half of 2003 counting in at $27,159,062 for a sales increase of $2,763,235.
The other category that increased was real estate sales. In the first half of 2002 the total sold was only $636,804. But in the first half of 2003 that figure was increase by a little less than four times to $2,428,507. The $1,791,703 increase in sales showed up as the largest increase at 281 percent more than the same time period in the year before.
Fielding's review of the financial numbers of the county followed a presentation about what various groups are trying to do to increase sales and money brought into the community.
"One of the things we are trying to do is to develop a one stop contact within the county so that someone planning an event for our community doesn't have to contact numerous people to set up a program and all that goes with it," Fielding said. "This could include everything a person would want to set up here including hotel rooms, meeting rooms, permits, entertainment, recreational facilities and other needed facilities."
Part of drawing people in will include a customizable event planner that will detail the various options for prospective clients as well as designing some one half day opportunities for those who come here so they will stay longer and presumably spend more money in the county.
He also pointed out that almost everyone who works in any kind of field belongs to some type of national or local organization and that everyone should be proactive in trying to get their organizations to bring their meetings to the area.
He also spoke about the assets of the area and pointed out that the College of Eastern Utah was one of the biggest economic impacts on the area. But he said the college is even working harder to bring more money to the area by sponsoring numerous outside training work shops and continuing education seminars.
He also pointed out that if an endowment could be set up for local students, that would free up more money for students from outside the area to come to school here. Then they in turn spend money here as well.
He also pointed out what a great resource the airport is and how it has expanded in the last few years.
"Right now, however, it isn't bringing the impact to the area it could," he said. "We have been in close contact with a New York developer who has visited our area twice trying to set up some tenants for our air industrial park. But in the end he couldn't find any tenants at this time. He told me that he will re-look at helping putting something together in 9-12 months when the economy improves."
Fielding also pointed out that the Airport Development Zone legislation that was passed last year by the state is set up to only benefit Salt Lake and Ogden's airports. The legislation was put together so that a company that wants to set up at those airports could get up to one third of the state taxes it pays back as reimbursement for locating there.
"My point is why not let Carbon County companies or future companies get the same one third tax refund," he stated. "If it is good for Ogden, why not Price or St. George or Logan or Vernal, etc."
Fielding also spoke about the possibility of a recreation center in the area that would be supported by the county, cities and CEU. It could not only contain areas for physical activities such as pools, indoor running tracks, aerobics rooms, etc., but could also become the same place where the proposed "super library' could be house with a fine arts center included as well.
He pointed out that any such building would certainly require a lot of money and at present a committee has been formed to look at possible funding sources for the center.