The Governor’s Office of Economic Opportunity recently announced that 14 communities will receive grants through the Rural Communities Opportunity Grant (RCOG). There were 29 qualified applications submitted with total funding requests of nearly $12 million. The Rural Opportunities Advisory Committee awarded the total budgeted funds of $3.95 million. The Center for Rural Development, part of the Economic Opportunity office, administers the RCOG competitive application process.
The grant addresses the economic development needs of rural communities, including business recruitment, development, and expansion; workforce training and development; and infrastructure and capital facilities improvements for business development.
“This grant empowers rural communities to take stewardship for their economic development planning, projects, and activities, and to manage unique opportunities,” said Ryan Starks, executive director of the Economic Opportunity office. “We look forward to all the benefits the funding will bring to these communities.”
The following are four examples of what the communities will do with their RCOG funds.
The Hildale Economic Advancement and Innovation Center (HEAIC) will receive funding to provide small business owners and entrepreneurs with tools and resources to improve their chances of success. The funds will be used to renovate and upgrade the HEAIC building; purchase and install innovative equipment, including economic education and tourism programs; and rapid-assessment response and evaluation.
The city will receive the grant to take the next steps to diversify its economy. Morgan City and its Redevelopment Agency have slated specific projects to work on, including creating a visitors center, finishing the caboose attraction next to the train depot, promoting Morgan’s historic district with city signs and building plaques, and other economic development projects.
Tremonton city will receive funding to support Midland Square, located in the heart of downtown Tremonton. Granted funds will be used to construct a permanent stage area, additional power pedestals for vendors, and public restrooms, transforming Midland Square from a public park to a public plaza. The city will program events and activities with the economic objective of attracting new small businesses to Tremonton.
The city will use the grant funds to support a public infrastructure project to boost business development in its downtown. The proposed capital facility project, called Cobble Rock Block, is a key priority and the second public project of the recently approved downtown Vernal plan. The project comprises constructing a public parking lot, pedestrian plaza, and walkway behind the 100 East block to support local business retention and development.
Other communities receiving RCOG funds are Beaver City, Bicknell, Cedar City, City of Moab, Daggett County, Hinckley Town, Juab County, Leamington, Price, and Vernon.
Eligible rural communities include counties of the third, fourth, fifth, and sixth class; cities, towns, and metro townships located within those counties; and municipalities with a population of 10,000 or less in counties of the second class.
The RCOG is a competitive application process and requires a funding match based on the community’s population. Applications are scored based on their quality, proposed budget, economic development projects activities descriptions; as well as the purposes, goals, and measurable outcomes related to improving the community’s overall economy. Applicants must justify the economic development need for the grant and the amount of funding requested.