This archived article was written by: Austin Fietkau
Utah has become one of the best climates for economic growth in the country. With low energy costs and a pro-business legislature, few can compete with its “business friendly” environment. However, while Utah is projected to have a statewide job increase of 2.8 percent per year over the next 10 years, Eastern Utah itself is expected to grow only 0.8 percent per year. The hopeful solution: trading a critical piece of land.
The Alliance, “a group of community figures composed of college, school district, business and political leaders,” is dedicated to the growth and prosperity of Eastern Utah. With the predicted and insufficient contribution of Castle Country to the state’s overall economic growth as their main topic of discussion, they’ve come together on the idea of swapping a piece of land, which is currently owned by Utah State University Eastern and positioned on the north and south sides of Research Road in Price.
In exchange for this piece of land, USUE would obtain the property on which Carbon High School and its facilities now stand.
While the proposed plan would result in a “much needed” new high school for the county, the swap would have much farther reaching implications, says USUE Chancellor Joe Peterson. Of all the job sectors which are expected to grow over the next 10 years, professional, scientific and technical service along with healthcare and social assistance jobs are projected to employ the greatest number of Utah’s residents.
With this land trade (and the statistics from the Department of Workforce Services) would also come a “school district to university collaboration” in which the goal would be to provide employees for those two sectors.
In addition, the swap would provide the space and facilities to foster the education and training necessary to make their goals a reality. “It’s not just going to be any high school that’s built, and we at the college aren’t just going to use the old high school building as a regular college building. We are going to orient them to the production of jobs most likely to be needed in our state.”
Peterson says there are a whole host of new educational programs that will create more allied health professional jobs, including medical lab, pharmacy and respiratory therapy technicians.
In regards to the science and technical department, “we’ve already got some of the best programs around,” Peterson said. “But we are going to add to it robotics, automation and manufacturing technology.”
With the new piece of land located just a block away from Carbon’s current football and baseball fields, Peterson says the new high school would be able to continue its use of those facilities. In addition, USUE would be able to continue its current state of adjacency between its facilities.
Many aspects of the details of the trade, including the timing of the trade and future plans on both Carbon’s and USUE’s side of things are still being discussed.
“[This] may sound like a pie in the sky,” Peterson said, “but on the other hand, it may realistic and really the thing that ought to happen.”