Utah governor committed to bringing 25K jobs to rural Utah, launches job tour this week

CEDAR CITY – David Atkinson drove nearly three hours from American Fork to make sure he made it to Cedar City Thursday afternoon in time for the 25K Jobs Tour of rural Utah and it appears his commitment paid off.

Atkinson, a former projects manager for AT&T, has been unemployed for several years but for the first time he said he has hope that his life is going to turn around for the better.

“I talked to people at three or four tables about some job prospects and found at least one that I think is very promising,” Atkinson said. “The wages are about $16 or $17 an hour. They aren’t six-figure jobs but they’re above minimum wage and will provide us (family) a living wage. So I’m hopeful. This jobs tour really opened up some resources and opportunities I didn’t have prior to coming here so it was definitely worth it.”

But Atkinson wasn’t the only one in his family to benefit from the jobs tour – his wife and their 17-year-old son along also all walked away with promising job opportunities.

Watch video at the top of this report of the job tour’s visit to Washington County

The jobs tour also connected people with resources they did not know were available.

“More important even than a job, I found places like the Department of Workforce Services here that I learned can help me with interviewing, resumes and networking,” Terri Atkinson, David Atkinson’s sister, said. “They have an all in one thing at DWS and who knew?”

While the state has largely enjoyed economic prosperity over the last few years, there are some rural communities that have continued to face high unemployment rates.

The jobs tour, organized in partnership with the World Trade Center Utah and 20 economic development partners, launched this week to create new opportunities in those areas that remain economically challenged.

The tour is part of the governor’s initiative to create 25,000 jobs in 25 rural counties outside of the Wasatch Front over the next four years. Gov. Gary Herbert tapped Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox to head up the tour.

I will not rest until all 29 counties experience the same economic success,” Gov. Gary Herbert said in a news release. “I challenge Utah businesses from across the state to come together. Utahns are hardworking and creative, and by working together we can find innovative solutions.”

Herbert has credited the $8.2 billion tourism industry as being a strong component of rural Utah’s economy, pointing to the $1 billion it generates annually in state and local taxes, but said he believes there must be more economic diversity in rural areas.

The Atkinsons were only a few of about 200 people who attended the tour in Iron County Thursday that benefited from the opportunities available. Business owners and managers who came out were also able to access resources to help their companies find new customers, be more efficient and expand internationally.

Everything we talked about today was creation of these 25K jobs – how do we do it, who do we need to focus on, what services do we need to make sure are provided to businesses and how do we help job seekers, how do we get them connected to jobs,” Don Willie, managing director for World Trade Center Utah, said.

The tour traveled through Iron and Beaver Counties Thursday and Washington County on Wednesday and will continue making stops in each rural county for the next week. Representatives from industry, education and government are on site during the tour to speak to prospective employees and to network with other business owners and entrepreneurs.

For more information and updates about the initiative visit the website at: 25kjobs

Email: tsullivan@stgnews.com

Twitter: @tracie_sullivan

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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