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Consultant reports on economic development progress

Article Date: 
3 January, 2014 (All day)

Representatives from the city, county and school board recently re-evaluated their wish list for possible future grants, moving a bridge over the Weber River at the end of Young Street to the top of the list.  Restoration of the Weber River near the fairgrounds is second on the list, redevelopment of Como Springs is third, and Commercial Street building improvements is fourth.
Other items were moved down the list to a possible 2018 date, including an affordable housing grant and highway striping.  They “scratched” a public swimming pool off their five-year plan.
“We just don’t see a swimming pool in the near future,” Wilde said.
But the county is hoping solidifying the list is a step toward much needed economic development, something they have hired consultant Better City to help them with.
Better City gave a quarterly report on their economic development progress to the Morgan County Council last week.
The council agreed to put the renovation of Como Springs out for a request for proposal (RFP), in an effort to procure the services of a professional engineering/consulting firm to conduct a feasibility study. Godfrey said the landowner is willing to pay for half of the feasibility study.
“We are at a point now where we just need to do some due diligence,” Godfrey said.  “We need to better understand what this project entails, and where the hurdles lie.”
“We need to look at this as the first step in the process,” Councilman Lyle Nelson said.  “Better City is just trying to provide the data.”
Godfrey said the Morgan County Airport, well known for its gliding conditions, would be a good venue for a sky festival with a glider event, hot air balloon festival similar to that previously held in Eden and Huntsville, and sky diving.
“It could produce a significant draw, and get people to become more aware of what exists in the area,” Godfrey said.
He said he already has an event planner willing to try it out in the spring of 2014.  However, some council members felt that may be a bit too soon.
However, the council is willing to sent one or two council members to the January SHOT Show in Las Vegas to woo gun manufacturers to locate their business in Morgan County. Council Chairwoman Tina Kelley said it would be appropriate to use the council’s travel and training budget to fund the trip.
They delivered an infrastructure report draft, which documents the location of utilities in the county.
“This was a very challenging project, but will create a lot of value for the county moving forward,” Godfrey said.  
Godfrey’s company is actively searching for small businesses in the county that are “in the position to grow.”  Better City can put such business owners in contact with funding and grants to help finance growth, which usually means the need for physical space.
“We have found companies in very interesting places in the county,” Godfrey said.  “We need to find their needs, and assess what is necessary for them to grow.”
Better City is also planning a business plan competition for Morgan area businesses to establish the county’s reputation as business friendly, as well as increase business activity in the area.