Steve Hawks, Dean of USU-Moab, welcomes attendees to a business summit in 2012 [Photo courtesy of Steve Hawks]

The local business community is encouraged to attend an upcoming workshop aimed at enhancing business in the Moab area.

Utah State University-Moab, in collaboration with the City of Moab, the Department of Workforce Services and the Moab Chamber of Commerce, will host its Moab on the Edge Third Annual Business Summit on Friday, June 27 from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

“USU is an institution committed to leveraging university resources in a way that enhances local economies,” said Steve Hawks, Dean of USU-Moab. “We are excited to collaborate with the local business community to help our economy grow and learn more from each other about our region’s unique business landscape.”

Hawks has worked closely with the Business Summit planning team to develop content and coordinate logistics for this year’s workshop, which plans to address local business challenges and provide tools and resources to help businesses thrive in a competitive environment.

“USU as an institution feels that an essential role of our regional campus system is to help support sustainable economic development in the rural communities we serve,” Hawks said. “The Summit allows USU-Moab to be involved in a very meaningful way in supporting local business needs and bringing the expertise of the university to bear on local challenges.”

Hawks said one theme of the workshop will focus on the challenge of recruiting, retaining and developing employees who will contribute to the success of businesses.

“With the ongoing development of new hotels and other enterprises in the community, it is a challenge for many businesses to develop the ideal employee configuration for their companies,” he said.

Touching more on this subject will be USU’s Marion Bentley, who says he is looking forward to speaking at the upcoming Business Summit.

“Certainly one of the biggest challenges for local businesses is the increased market demand for workers – how and where to recruit the quality of workers you require, and how to keep them,” Bentley said.

During his presentation, Bentley will discuss creative ways for employers to recruit, train, motivate, reward and manage their workforce.

As Director of USU Extension Business and Economic Development programs, Bentley believes the event will benefit not only the business community, but the university as well.

“One benefit is to connect employers to our campus, to show them our facilities and the capacity and willingness we have to educate and train managers and employers locally,” he said. “Another is to show them how we can help with business counseling and training needs through the Moab Business Resource Center (BRC) and Small Business Development Center (SBDC) office on site.”

Last year’s business summit saw approximately 70 attendees and included guest speakers such as University of Utah senior research economist Pam Perlich, who discussed the economic forecast for Grand County.

Hawks expects a similar number of attendees this year.

“In general, the summits have been very successful in providing training and insights critical to local business success,” Hawks said. “Evaluations completed by attendees have been very positive and supportive of holding annual summits into the future.”

Another key planner for this year’s workshop is Ken Davey, the City of Moab Economic Development specialist.

“This looks to be the most robust year ever for Moab, in terms of business and government revenues,” he said.

Davey, who will be speaking at the summit, poses questions about the challenges of Moab’s current and future business growth, from the construction of hundreds of new hotel rooms to the extractive exploration and development slated for the Book Cliffs.

“Moab is clearly seen by investors as poised to continue this business growth,” Davey said. “How can businesses, already strapped for employees, find enough people to maintain the motels and restaurants when we already have a severe shortage of workforce housing? How will government deal with the new demands on infrastructure and government services? How will energy development co-exist with expanding recreation activity? Can we meld the two, or will conflicts damage both industries? Will this development help or hinder improving our quality of life?”

Davey believes the key to good business forecasting and planning is good information, and through the summit, he plans to provide businesses with the best data available while highlighting programs and services that can aid them in their strategic planning.

“We will find out from them what they believe are the most important priorities for the community as a whole,” he said, “and we will share with them the ‘tricks of the trade’ that successful local businesses have been utilizing to increase recruitment and retention of the best employees – an absolute necessity for a successful operation.”

Additional guest speakers will include City Manager Donna Metzler, Grand County Council chairman Lynn Jackson and SBDC regional director Ryan Murray.

“Small-business success is critical in an area such as Moab, where the small businesses become the backbone of the economy and a major determining factor in the economic quality of life for the area,” Murray said.

Murray says he strives to help businesses improve financially.

“Accurate and timely financials are critical to good decision making, strategic planning and clearly identifying market opportunities,” he said.

The summit is free and open to the public, and will take place in Room R at USU-Moab. Complimentary breakfast and lunch will be served, allowing a networking opportunity for attendees.

“The summit is an opportunity for businesses to share experiences, make themselves aware of available services – from business startup or expansion counseling to creative financing options – and learn about how others are dealing with the issues we all face,” Davey said.

Moab BRC Director MaryAnne LeMaitre says her interest is in removing barriers to economic development for local businesses.

“Businesses in Moab need to embrace the social changes in order to better meet their customer needs, and to grow their customer base,” she said.

The Moab BRC, an organization dedicated to strengthening existing and startup businesses in the Moab area, will serve as one of many sponsors for this year’s business summit.

“USU-Moab is delighted to work with the business community to promote economic development for our area,” Hawks said. “It continues to be a pleasure to work with local business leaders and workforce specialists to find ways to better serve the business community.”

“Small-business success is critical in an area such as Moab, where the small businesses become the backbone of the economy and a major determining factor in the economic quality of life for the area.”

What: Moab on the Edge Business Summit

When: Friday, June 27, 2014, 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Where: USU-Moab, Room R (125 W. 200 South)

*Free admission, complimentary breakfast & lunch

*More info:

*RSVP to MaryAnne LeMaitre at

Organizers see an opportunity to enhance local economy