County business owners give updates on economy

By Tom Haraldsen
Managing Editor

CEDAR CITY—As the Cedar City Chamber of Commerce’s Economic Summit concluded last Thursday, one local business was honored with the Chamber’s Economic Driver award.

Mueller Industries received the award presented by Danny Stewart, ED Director for the Chamber, to Jared Ramsburg of Mueller. The company acquired the Copper Tube Mill last December and began recommissioning the plant in April. Since then, the Cedar location has become the west coast regional distribution center for Mueller, a nationwide copper and brass manufacturer. The first shift has been completed, and Ramsburg said two future shifts will be added as production increases.

He was one of five presenters discussing the local economy. As one of the plant’s 50 employees, he said that “It’s important for us to be local company. I am one of just two employees who transferred here—the rest are all local, and we’ll continue hiring in that way.” He said projections call for a total of 75 employees at the plant by early next year, with 110 projected by 2019.

Donna Law of the Cedar City Arts Council discussed the importance arts play in the local economy. She said that last year, $76 million was spent in arts expenditures. That equated to an average of $126 per person for a cultural art attendee, not including the price of the tickets themselves. She said the national average is $31.

“Tourism is obviously big business for us here in Iron County,” she said. “Arts have an intrinsic value in our lives.”

Jerry Hill of TechUp reported on the growth of his organization, made up of high tech business professionals who network together. It started with 12 members in 2009, currently has 215 members, and 40 of them are “very active,” he said.

“We work to promote Cedar City as a place for technology,” he added.

Brennan Wood from Southwest Tech said the school’s new LPN program will begin soon, and he discussed how the college is working in conjunction with both Southern Utah University and Utah State University on helping nursing students all the way to four-year degrees and RN status. He also praised the school’s efforts in farming programs, along with many industry relationships Southwest Tech has formed.

The concluding presenter was Mark Leavitt of The Leavitt Group. The family has had a business presence in Cedar City for more than 65 years, has over 1,800 full-time employees throughout its many enterprises, including 289 in Cedar City. The local payroll last year exceeded $18 million. Since 2000, the Dixie and Ann Leavitt Family Foundation has donated over $10.5 million to local causes and groups.

The Friend of the Chamber Award was also presented to World Trade Center Utah for its efforts in helping foster economic growth statewide. Chamber president and CEO Chris McCormick presented that award to Don Willie from WTC Utah.

Television producer and host Chad Booth gave the session’s keynote address, touching on a number of subjects related to his career and his experiences working in Iron County.

“There are really three areas were economic growth can best be achieved,” he said. “Engineering and manufacturing is one area, agriculture is another, and tourism is a third. Too many counties lean on just one area, and that can cause problems if that sector faces a slowdown. Iron County has done a good job of diversifying—working in all three areas. That bodes well for your future.”


CAPTION: Mueller Industries received the Economic Driver Award from the Cedar City Chamber of Commerce. Photo by Tom Haraldsen/Iron County Today


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