In an editorial two weeks ago that thanked the Miller Family for withdrawing their Tooele Valley property from a list of potential sites for a new Utah State Prison, we also declared concern that a new economic development initiative promised a year ago had not publicly moved forward.
But in last Tuesday’s story, “New committee to chart course for economic development in county,” local leaders made it clear they haven’t forgotten their promise. In fact, a committee has built the framework to promote Tooele County for business expansion and relocation. The committee is also ready to take the next step to move the initiative forward.
According to Grantsville Mayor Brent Marshall, he, along with Tooele City Mayor Patrick Dunlavy and Tooele County Commissioner Shawn Milne, have collaborated as a Tooele County Council of Government’s committee to create and sustain a “united voice” for economic development.
He said they have finished their initial planning and have established an economic development committee. The group consists of him, Dunlavy and Milne, plus county commissioners Myron Bateman and Wade Bitner, Grantsville City Councilman Mike Colson and Tooele City Councilman Steve Pruden.
The committee is scheduled to meet at 2 p.m. on the first Monday of every month in the county commission’s conference room in the Tooele County Building. Marshall said the meetings will be open to the public.
And there’s more good news. According to Dunlavy, unity between the county and cities will be at the forefront of the committee — a requirement determined at two economic development strategy meetings held last year.
“If a business is looking at a site in Grantsville then Tooele City and the county will promote that site as the best place,” he said. “The same will be true if the site is in Tooele or the county. We will not compete against each other.”
The county, Tooele and Grantsville cities have pledged $175,000 for the committee’s first year. The county’s portion is $75,000 with Grantsville and Tooele each paying $50,000.
Although definitive steps have been taken, Marshall also made it known that much work still needs to be done. The Economic Development Corporation of Utah — the state’s front-end marketer and clearinghouse for potential commercial sites — wants an updated list of local properties that are available for development. Inventories will have to be taken and provided to EDCU.
Furthermore, Marshall and Dunlavy noted the group has yet to develop a mission statement, elect a chairman, include representatives from the private and education sectors, and determine how the organization will function. There is discussion about making it a separate, nonprofit organization without alignment to COG or any municipality.
After months of delays, we are pleased to hear that the momentum started last year to put Tooele County back onto the state’s economic development map hasn’t entirely been lost. Yet, there is a lot of development work — and credibility with state leaders — to recover after the county closed its economic development office in September 2012 because of budget troubles.
Although such a recovery will take persistence, it appears the process has shifted from strategic talk to direct action. For the sake of residents’ quality of life, and to create more local jobs, Tooele County must become a larger player in the state’s economic development game. It appears progress is being made.