Consultant Matthew Godfrey with Better City said Morgan County’s economic development future could lie in courting the shooting sports industry. The move would accompany an overall recreation push for the county’s future.
Godfrey said he and his company have made a list of 101 ammunition manufacturers and began contacting them regarding Morgan County’s offerings in the case they are looking to move. ATK and Federal Firearms are both on the list.
With the worldwide headquarters of Browning Arms already located here, Morgan already has some clout, Godfrey said.
“Browning is a huge recruiting tool,” he said.
Browning’s chief financial officer is on the National Shooting Sports Foundation board.
“He is well respected and tied in,” Godfrey said. “Everyone knows him.”
In discussions with Browning, Godfrey said the company is amenable to other shooting sports companies locating in the county as their neighbors.
“They have a shooting range they prize. They are very interested in this to further establish the legitimacy of the range,” Godfrey said. “They see the opportunities for partnerships and cooperation to corner areas of the market.”
Godfrey encouraged members of the Morgan County Council to attend shooting sports shows in the future, and stick with it every year.
“You would be doing sales work. It is not glamorous, but it needs to be done,” Godfrey said. “Consistently attend the show to show you are serious. You have to be committed to do this for a while. Successful economic development takes time.”
With Browning willing to make introductions, the strategy could just work, Godfrey said.
The NSSF Shot Show is scheduled for January 2014 in Las Vegas.
In the past several months, Better City has delivered an economic analysis packet along with different real estate opportunities, economic development priorities, and inventory of some utilities in the county.
Godfrey was “embarrassed” by the lack of documentation for some utilities, especially in the Mountain Green industrial park area and other commercial areas.
“No one knows where the water and sewer are,” Godfrey said. “That was a big shock for me.”
Godfrey claims the lack of that information could substantially thwart his economic recruiting efforts.
“I hate to throw salt in the wounds of those who have been here a long time and were frustrated with economic development efforts in the past, but the ability to recruit is hinged on the gathering of this data,” Godfrey said. “We are trying to piece that together. It is a challenge.”
Without knowing where utilities are located, “you don’t even have an industrial park you can sell,” he said. “You can’t even get up to bat without having this information.”
Godfrey also advised the Morgan County Council to take a good look at the type of businesses allowed in certain zones. He said the industrial park zone should be used to create jobs, and that allowing storage units in this zone does not accomplish job creation.
Better City plans to continue collaborating with Morgan City, the Northfront Center and EDCUtah in ongoing economic development efforts.
Godfrey called Snowbasin’s plans for development in the Morgan County a “low hanging fruit” that the county should embrace. Godfrey would like to see Snowbasin’s development plans stepped up a few years.
“You don’t just have a worldclass resort in your backyard, it is at your door,” Godfrey said. “The positive impact to the county is sizeable.”
Godfrey also would like to capitalize on additional economic development the Morgan County Airport could bring in. While the small airport has little room to expand its taxiway, Godfrey said it could still bring in companies interested in glider sales and manufacturing. The airport could also host small events, he said.
“The airport is so close to Snowbasin, and is very beautiful,” Godfrey said.
Another opportunity for significant economic development is the potential to bring back the Como Springs recreational area.
“This is a real recreation community,” Godfrey said. “We are looking for ways to introduce Morgan to the Wasatch Front. Como Springs can bring people from the Wasatch Front. There are not a lot of newly developed, affordable hot springs attractions within a 20-minute drive of the Wasatch Front. This is a significant opportunity to get people to come up to the valley, spend money, and just understand what Morgan is all about.”
If Morgan City can get a hotel to locate in the county, it could set off an economic development domino effect, members of the Morgan County Council said. Council Chairwoman Tina Kelley said she has heard of interest in locating a hotel in Mountain Green.
“Once you get the ball rolling, it sparks interest and development follows,” Councilman Ned Mecham said.
“Success breeds success,” Godfrey said. “Once you get things going, things fall into place.”