Six businesses were recently awarded grants from the rural economic development funds and approved in a June county commission meeting. With the aid of the Business Resource Center (BRC) and the Community Economic Development committee (CED), these businesses have created plans for the awarded grants to hopefully increase revenue through a variety of ways such as online presence, retail, marketing, staffing, and such. The CED committee includes Chair John Barber, Mayor Steve Gale, Chamber of Commerce President Traca Wardell, business owner Mauricio Melendez, Greg Vidrine with the First Community Bank, and Andrew Willis with the BRC.
Although a total of $33,000 was awarded, it was clarified in the meeting that the committee is very protective of public funds and the grants are not just being tossed to anyone. The awardees have to create a plan on how they are specifically going to use the funds. In addition, those businesses are required to report to Willis on a quarterly basis to discuss and update growth strategies, and provide monthly updates on economic development to the economic development committee. To have applied, the business must have been in business for one year; operate in or be based in Morgan county; have a current business registration, having a current business license with the state of Utah and with the city or county of Morgan; have a business checking account, business taxes, or business taxes with the IRS and state of Utah; and current home-based businesses cannot apply; and the projects, which must have a measurable timeline and a measurable impact on the community, must be ready to launch. Five were not chosen because the committee was not “enamored” with the financials nor intent for funds. The six businesses awarded the grants were Grounds for Coffee, Deb’s Spicy Pie, Morgan Valley Crafts, The Weight Room, Boonies, and Brighton Blades. The businesses requested an amount and the CED board had the final vote for the recommended amount.
Grounds for Coffee was awarded $8,650 which will be used for catering and the expansion of the dining space, optimizing capacity for indoor and outdoor seating.
Deb’s Spicy Pie was awarded $5,000 for upgrade and purchase of equipment along with increasing product quality and quantity.
Morgan Valley Crafts was awarded $3,000 to provide needed resources to expand staff material and obtain new services providing increased profit and sustainability.
The Weight Rooms was awarded $5,000 for an additional trainer to meet increased demand and extended hours as needed; increasing revenue with additional staffing and services.
Boonies Gear was awarded $6,350 for aiding in purchasing additional inventory, rental program business expansion, marketing, and potential classes on emergency preparedness among other things.
Brighten Blades was awarded $5,000 for the use of the funds in increasing online presence, social media marketing, professional photography, and other online assets.
Owner of Boonies, Lance Hancock said, “We are excited that Morgan County chose Boonies to participate in the grant program. As a small business, the additional resources the grant provides will help expand what we offer to the community and to those visiting our beautiful valley. We would like to thank everyone and we look forward to continuing to serve our great community.”
“Each business owner has expressed immense gratitude for the program and the ability it allows them to maximize and earn potential,” shared Barber.
To those businesses who applied and were not awarded the grant, Barber encouraged them to meet with Willis at the BRC in Morgan to review business plans. There are also grants for start up businesses along with other programs. Not only those hoping to apply for future funds, but any business can seek help from Willis. In Gale’s words, “Andrew Willis donates so much to the program with his knowledge for business. He is a great detail man for business ideas helping with writing grants and much more.”
It was opined in the commission meeting that this program is so important to the community in sustaining and strengthening businesses for the county’s short-term economic development moving into long-term economic development. Designed to support local businesses and create substantive growth, the hope is to add new jobs and have an overall positive impact on Morgan County’s economy. A total of $33,000 in grants awarded with the funding coming from rural economic development funds this year, it was shared that the committee is likely going to ask for $50,000 in the next rural grant application because of the success with the opportunity to grow local businesses.