Rural Initiatives to Change the Landscape of Economic Development

Pete CodellaNews

During the 2018 Utah General Legislative Session, H.B. 327 and H.B. 390, the Rural Online Initiative (ROI) and the Rural Economic Development Incentive (REDI) respectively, were signed into law by Gov. Gary R. Herbert changing the landscape of rural economic development.

These programs were created as companion bills to spur economic activity in Utah’s struggling rural counties, and move the state closer to attaining the goal of the governor’s 25k Initiative.

The Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) was tasked with administering the REDI program. It is designed to incentivize businesses that create jobs locally, remotely, online, or in a “satellite hub” in counties of the fourth, fifth or sixth class (populations of less than 31,000).

Funding for the ROI was appropriated to Utah State University Extension for program development and delivery across targeted rural counties. The focus of the ROI program is to provide Utah’s rural workforce and businesses with education, training, and services for online opportunities in remote employment, freelance work, and e-commerce.

Both programs collaborate with the Department of Workforce Services (DWS), associations of governments, economic development leaders and other county and city leaders to open doors for remote employment with existing businesses along the Wasatch Front.

The partnership between the Governor’s Office of Economic Development’s REDI program and Utah State University’s ROI program aims to ease the strain of growth and expansion along the Wasatch Front.

Dispersing jobs outside of high-density business sectors will allow for reduced commute times, broader recruitment areas, cleaner air from reduced traffic, and more balanced wage and employment rates across the state. These programs are expected to reduce unemployment, underemployment and poverty levels in rural Utah through increased income opportunities.

Learn more about REDI here.