Gov. Norm Bangerter has formed a panel of rural economic experts to develop a strategy to help rural Utah compete in today's marketplace. The panel will consist of members of Utah Small Cities Inc., The Utah Board of Business and Economic Development and Metro Utah Inc.

Panel members will work with the Western Governor's Association and SRI International to identify rural opportunities in emerging industries and report to the governor next autumn."Utah's economy will not be completely healthy until every county in Utah is performing up to standards. It is time we recognize that the cure for rural Utah lies not only in enhancing the role of the traditional industries of the past, but within the context of today's global economy," said the governor.

The study is funded by the U.S. Economic Development Administration as a pilot project. The WGA and SRI are conducting similar pilot projects in North Dakota and Washington and the results of these efforts might provide help for other states interested in developing rural economic strategies.

Jim King, an official of SRI, said rural Utah may well be in an ideal position to compete in the global economy. "When the world is the marketplace, it doesn't matter where a company locates. Rural Utah offers a highly educated labor force that will be attractive for small, emerging high growth companies," he said.

Employees in the Division of Business and Economic Development, the Office of Planning and Budget, Utah State University, the Utah Division of Community Development, Job Service and the Deseret Certified Development Corp. have been asked to provide technical assistance to the project.