SALT LAKE CITY — The Governor’s Office of Economic Development announced Thursday that its board of directors recently approved eight rural Utah businesses for Rural Fast Track grants. The eight projects are expected to create up to 84 new jobs paying between 110 percent and 125 percent of the counties’ average wages.
The projects represent a record level of private investment, explained Linda Gillmor, director of the Office of Rural Development at GOED. In aggregate, more than $300,000 in post-performance grant funding will be matched by $1.9 million in private investment, she said.
“The private sector is making important investments in rural Utah,” Gillmor said.
Rural Fast Track grants are post-performance matching funds available to small businesses in qualifying Utah counties. All but one of the state's 25 rural counties can participate in the program, she noted.
Aimed at creating high-paying local jobs, the program provides an efficient way for rural companies to purchase necessary equipment, create new positions or reach other goals to grow their business, Gillmor said.
“One of our goals is to grow and support Utah businesses in both rural and urban communities,” said GOED Executive Director Val Hale. “We use programs like Rural Fast Track to maintain the entrepreneurial spirit in communities statewide, and these eight fast-growing companies are a great example.”
The eight projects receiving incentives are the Applied Composite Technology — Aerospace in Gunnison; Diamond S Manufacturing in Ephraim; Far West Construction in Mount Pleasant; Ophir-Spiricon LLC in North Logan; Bywater Products in Hyrum; Waste and Water Logistics in Helper; High Desert Excavation in Green River; and Dutson Supply Co. in Delta.
"It is a statewide network of economic development professionals and business service providers," Gillmor explained. "We want to help the communities maintain their historic cultural ways of living, but also want to help level the playing field between rural and urban."
She said helping rural communities grow and diversify economically will help strengthen the state's economic foundation and improve the opportunities for success for all Utahns.
"This opportunity is just part of a tool box of incentives that help rural businesses," Gillmor said.
The major tool the agency uses is the Business Expansion and Retention, or BEAR, initiative, she noted.
The program is designed to assist in growing new and existing rural businesses, influence rural job creation, and increase economic diversity in rural regions by enhancing the level of technical services provided, according to the GOED website.
The initiative is available to rural county economic development offices, tribes, associations of governments, business resource Centers, small-business development centers, and formal partnership consortiums directly involving these entities within the state for business training and skill development, the website states.
The program proactively targets rural businesses making connections between companies and needed existing resources from all agencies, higher education and other resources, Gillmor added.