BEAR Press Release
At the end of August, the Castle Country Business Expansion and Retention (BEAR) program announced the hiring of Brandon McCandless, the new outreach specialist for the organization.
McCandless is a home grown product, raised in Emery County, and a graduate of Emery High School. After leaving the public schools, he attended USU Eastern in Price and then went to Weber State University, where he earned his Bachelors degree in professional sales this past spring. He is presently working on obtaining a real estate license.
Along with working as an outreach specialist for BEAR, he is also an assistant football coach at Emery High School and works as a caregiver for his grandma, Carolyn McCandless.
“I have been given a fantastic opportunity by being hired for this position,” he said. “BEAR provides some incredible ways to help businesses in the area. I have a huge love for this area and I want to stay here. I will do whatever I can do to help businesses in the area improve.”
The BEAR outreach specialist interviews business owners and managers to find out what they need in terms of support that may be provided by various programs in the area. The individual then places referrals with such agencies as the Small Business Development Center, county economic development personnel, the Southeastern Utah Association of Local Governments and other organizations that can provide support for businesses in the two-county area. The data the specialist collects can also help with overall economic trends and forecasts in the area.
“My job is to let people know what BEAR is, what kinds of support it provides, to help with business operations in any way I can,” he said. “When I visit businesses, I will basically find where their pinch points are and then work on referrals to help get those problems resolved.”
One of the things he said he has already been surprised by is that there are a lot of businesses that don’t even know what BEAR is or what it does. Based on what he has learned, some of that is due to the fact that owners and leaders of businesses may have been contacted before, or they may have gone to the BEAR general meetings that provide business education every other week at USU Eastern, but that information about BEAR has not seeped down to those in those firms who are either in middle management or have recently taken over the reins of a business.
“I think without knowing about BEAR, a lot of these businesses try to tackle their problems alone,” said McCandless. “But, we can provide help in a number of different ways.”
BEAR programs around the state have been very successful since the concept was first introduced to the governors office by the first in the state, the Castle Country BEAR program, 15 years ago. Since those beginnings, the organizations have provided support for small businesses, particularly in rural areas, in terms of expertise, information and money resources.