My Rural Economic Development Plan for Utah House District 73
It's voting time and the ballots are in the mail. As I wrap up my campaign for Utah House District 73, I want to say what a pleasure and honor it has been to meet so many people across the District and have the pleasure of listening to you and learning of your concerns for your families, communities, and counties. Thank you for your time and input.
When it comes to growing our rural economies, each county and town in District 73 is unique, but all have challenges that need to be addressed. There are common threads that hold us together; the distances between communities, reliance on transportation, a desire to make a living that supports our families, and a hope that by providing great schools and job opportunities for our children our lives will improve.
Meaningful and enduring rural development needs only one thing, Opportunity. Everywhere I travel in District 73, I meet people that have a deep entrepreneurial spirit. They are hardworking, passionate and committed to growing their business, or starting one, or as employees, a desire to make a livable wage. This spirit, the backbone of economic diversity, needs to be nurtured and requires investment from the private sector matched by our government through tax credits, training programs, and grants; the same strategies that are made abundant to the urban areas of our state.
I propose developing a cohesive, broad-based strategy that includes infrastructure, education, housing, healthcare, and small business development focused on compatible and sustainable enterprises, including expanding opportunities in tourism, agriculture, and ranching. Seeking support from all levels of government and the private sector I will join our far-flung communities in this common effort. With commitment by all parties, we can plan for our future, reliably and with certainty.
First, we must tackle our infrastructure concerns. While tourism, associated trade/transportation, and agriculture are important contributors to our rural economy, fully utilizing the Utah Education and Telehealth Network (UETN) will have a positive impact on our economic development. We must strive to close the widening gap between urban and rural communities in the educational attainment of our youth. Accessing online programs such as college preparatory, occupational, and technology training classes have been shown to do this. UETN also opens the door to telehealth programs, bringing patients and doctors together through smartphones and computers providing immediate access to medical advice and care that is crucial in rural areas. Utah has made a great commitment to broadband and ranks sixth in the nation for rural access. Let’s encourage providers and developers to “add the last mile” of connectivity for these changes to have their greatest effect.
According to the Utah Association of Counties, population growth over the next few years is not expected to increase significantly in District 73. Without an increasing tax base, we will continue to rely on government assistance to make up revenue shortfalls. There are programs and legislation currently in place that we need to take advantage of fully if we aim to stand on our own. We need to extend and work to increase funding for S.B. 264, “Outdoor Recreation Grant Program”, and push for extension of “The Rural Online Initiative”, HB 327, increases funding for Business Resource Centers and Small Business Development Centers in rural Utah from the $500,000 allotted by the 2017 legislature to an amount that will make a real impact. I want to make certain we are making the best use of taxpayers’ money and include taxpayers in that discussion.
By working together in a non-partisan manner we can improve our economy, supporting sensible growth while improving the quality of our rural life. District 73 deserves a Representative that will work hard for them. People first.