Residents of this economically foundering community are thrilled with the possible relocation of Pacific Engineering and Production Co. to Cedar City.
"It is my personal opinion that they are going to come to Utah, and this move by the Legislature makes it very clear that Utah wants the plant," Cedar City Mayor Robert Linford said.State lawmakers met in special session this week in an effort to woo PEPCON to Utah by changing state law to allow the issuance of industrial revenue bonds for a $33 million ammonium perchlorate plant near Cedar City.
The PEPCON plant in Henderson, Nev., was destroyed by an explosion in May - an event that might make Cedar City residents wonder whether they want the plant in their back yard.
Besides obvious benefits for Utah's Morton Thiokol and Hercules operations, the plant, if constructed in Cedar City, would bring an estimated 200 jobs to Iron County. And that's a strong incentive to overlook any possible dangers.
"I think it's super to have a high-class company like PEPCON thinking of relocating here," said Garth Jones, manager of a local furniture store. "And I haven't heard a derogatory comment about the plant coming to town."
"It looks like an industry that would allow you to make enough money to raise a family and not just minimum-wage jobs, and that's what we need," said Wayne Clark, owner of Clark & Linford Jewelers of Cedar City's Main Street.
Linford was in Salt Lake City this week with a delegation of government officials lobbying for the passage of the measure and to make sure that government officials knew that Cedar City was in favor of the plant's coming to the area.
He was impressed with the way local and state officials had worked together to attract the plant to the state. He said he doesn't know of any dissent from Cedar City residents, which is unusual, but probably could be explained because of the dire need of jobs in the county.
Linford said PEPCON would decide very soon about the site for the new plant. Cedar is just one of three, the other two being in Nevada. But he said the legislative action may help clinch the deal.
"They have come up with an agreed rate structure through negotiations through Utah Power & Light, which essentially removes a major stumbling block for locating the plant here," he said.
Southern Utah State College President Gerald R. Sherratt offered the full support of the school and pledged to become partners with the company in training future employees.
Sherratt said, "This would be a great boon to the county to help get more employment and, hopefully, will be a beginning of an economic resurgence in Iron County."
Linford said the City Council has fully supported the relocation of the plant to the site 15 miles west of Cedar City. He also said it was his understanding that PEPCON already had purchased the rights to a 4,800-acre parcel. PEPCON officials have said they hope to begin construction at the location of their choice by Aug. 1 to meet production deadlines.
PEPCON supplies Hercules and Morton Thiokol with rocket fuel propellent. Both companies have enough stock to last until Feb. 1.