In January the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) realigned spending priorities following passage of a state senate bill in the most recent legislative session. SB 95 allowed for the consolidation of a number of grants GOED had been administering. GOED’s Office of Rural Development created the Rural County Grant. Counties are now able to qualify for block funding that will allow more input from the community to address economic development needs in areas of business recruitment, development, and expansion; workforce training and development; and infrastructure, industrial building development, and capital facilities improvements for business development. .
San Juan County Economic Development and Visitor Services (EDVS) applied for the grant and was awarded the full amount of $95,833. This funding is a reduced amount as a result of COVID-19, in normal years the legislature anticipates awarding counties $220,000.
The San Juan County Rural County Grant Program has been created from scratch by county economic development director Natalie Randall and the County Economic Development Board (CED).
Board member Linda Sosa of Bluff sums up the impact of the grant combined with the anticipated arrival of broadband in her community in the upcoming months. "This is a wonderful opportunity for our local, rural businesses. It supports local ideas for growth in different areas of business that make sense for us in San Juan County and can impact a much larger area for those using the internet and technology. "
Through various meetings the San Juan County CED decided to allocate a set aside of funds for the Annual Canyonlands Business Summit and for support of additional business/group meetings and training. The remaining $85,833 was allocated to the creation of a Rural County Grant Program (RCGP).
As a result businesses investing in San Juan County are invited to submit a pre-application now through October 31st. All the applications will be reviewed and scored by the San Juan CED Board.
Board member and Blanding City Economic Development Director Pratt Redd when asked for comment stated, “The Rural County Grant Program is truly the first grant program that works for San Juan County businesses and their unique circumstances. Expanding existing and new business will be now done at a local level, by locals.”
RCGP Board Chairman Britt Barton says, “ The board is serious about the challenge of economic development in San Juan County. Even though our funds are limited this year it will provide a start. It will allow us to work with some good qualifying businesses the community feels deserve support.”
Barton also wanted to stress that these funds are for existing businesses or recruitment of other businesses providing services not found in San Juan County at this time.
“These funds are not for day to day operational expenses of existing businesses.” Barton continues. “This is not intended to help employers make ends meet. This is money intended for the expansion of our economic engine. That could be improvements to existing structures, equipment purchases or helping establish programs that benefit our communities.”
Examples of qualifying projects might include:
Construction of a new building
Adding onto an existing building
Purchases of new or the upgrade of existing equipment or machinery
Value-added agriculture expansion projects
New or uncommon industry investment
For more information and to submit a pre-application please visit: www.utahscanyoncountry.com/ced