Morton Thiokol is essential to the economic well-being of northern Utah, a Box Elder County commissioner told state representatives and local leaders recently.

Morton Thiokol has 8,000 employees in Utah with an annual payroll of $200 million, Commissioner Bob Valentine told county and local leaders during a meeting with state representatives to discuss Box Elder County's economy.Half of those Thiokol employees live in Box Elder county. The company pays $11 million in state taxes each year and $2.5 million in property tax, Valentine said. Thiokol also spends $100 million each year on supplies and services from Utah businesses.

Valentine said he was speaking as a resident of Box Elder county and not as a Thiokol official. He said Thiokol's future "looks pretty solid for the next few years. But it depends on the outcome of things in early November and if Dukakis wins the election.

"He doesn't believe in SDI or `Star Wars,' the Peacekeeper or MX, the small ICBMs and the Trident. He doesn't have much faith in the space station. These are some of Thiokol's mainstays."

The former Intermountain Inter-tribal School in Brigham City was deeded to the city by the federal government in 1985. The city has since sold most of the property to Lilly Pond Associates, a New York company. The city is working closely with Lilly Pond to bring in potential clients.

Gary Jones, liaison between Brigham City and Lilly Pond, said that when a negative story appears in the media about Thiokol, contacts with potential clients drop off but following a positive report, the number of contacts go back up. Most contacts don't want to come in unless Thiokol is here, Jones said.

Tremonton is also affected by Thiokol. Mayor Gil Smart said that Tremonton enjoyed a good economy until 1981 when agriculture had a downturn. Many small businesses in Tremonton closed because sales went down. Many farmers in Box Elder county work at Thiokol or for other employers to supplement farm income.

One priority in Tremonton has been to revitalize the downtown area, and Smart said that is beginning to happen.

County Commissioner Frank Nish-iguchi said Box Elder is one of the few counties that does not have an economic development committee. Although surrounding counties may be ahead of Box Elder, he said, "better late than never." There is a lot of competition for new industry, he said, but maintaining what the county has is also important.

Brigham City Mayor Peter Knud-son said that there is a lot of faith in Utah outside the state. Utahns need to have that faith as well, he said.

At the former Indian school (ow called Brigham Intermountain Industrial Development Property), 480 jobs were lost when the school closed. About 152 people are employed now in businesses that have bought or leased facilities at the property, said Mike Cosgrove, economic development director.

There is a potential for 1,000 to 2,000 jobs as the property is developed for residential, commercial and industrial use, Cosgrove said.

Since taking over the property, Brigham City has rebuilt the power lines and has almost completed new water lines, built an 18-hole golf course that will open next spring, and improved and added roads, Cosgrove said.

Now on the property are an art studio, a toy business, a jewelry business, a carpentry business, a construction company and 100 Thiokol employees, Cosgrove said.