At the monthly Castle Country Business Expansion and Retention (BEAR) meeting, members were given a little refresher on what the purpose, focus and goals are for the monthly gathering.
Ethan Migliori, Nick Tatton and Mike McCandless went over the origins and specifics of why BEAR was founded, the history of its existence and where it is headed. Focusing on building solid relationships with businesses, members spend time collecting and analyzing data to help solve problems in the local area.
The local BEAR program serves Carbon, Emery and Grand counties. Using state and local funding, the program offers tools to help grow and maintain local businesses. This approach is more cost productive than focusing on recruiting new industry to the area.
While new industry is a good thing and is a part of the BEAR mission, studies have proven that much employment growth and economic stability can be achieved by helping existing business grow and market beyond the area.
Manufacturing provides almost a 2:1 employment benefit. These jobs usually result in additional employment in other industries, retail and service in the area. Because the state of Utah focuses its financial resources in this arena, money for programs designed to boost manufacturing jobs and industry is much more available.
BEAR understands that retail businesses also need assistance to grow, but with more tools available for the manufacturing industry, it is where BEAR feels it can do the most to help the local economic picture.
In the beginning, BEAR was ran mostly by volunteer staff and a few community members with a vision. The program now has a staff and a budget of about $60,000 a year. With that, they have had a community impact of over $29 million added to the local economy since 2007.
Partners in the Castle Country BEAR organization include Price City, Helper City, Wellington City, Department of Workforce Services, Emery and Carbon counties, Carbon County Chamber of Commerce, Vocational Rehabilitation, Small Business Development Center, Business Technical Assistance Center, Utah State University, Southeastern Utah Association of Local Governments and many other businesses and individuals.
BEAR meetings are every other week at the USU Eastern Alumni Room and the program is housed at the USU Eastern Workforce Services Building.
For more information, contact BEAR Project Outreach Specialist Victoria Marchello at (435) 613-5255.