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Local grants help Morgan County businesses thrive

Apr 25, 2024 09:46AM ● By Linda Peterson

Five Morgan County businesses have been able to increase their combined annual revenues by close to $250,000 thanks to small business growth opportunity grants distributed by Morgan County through the Community Economic Opportunity Board. A sixth expects to add to that total this summer.

Over the past two years, the Community Economic Opportunity Board has given out $50,000 to help local businesses grow. The program is funded through a grant from the state of Utah and does not use any tax dollars, County Commissioner Blaine Fackrell said.

At the April 16 Morgan County Commission meeting board chair John Barber and Andrew Willis BRC/SBDC business mentor/owner reported on the impact the grants have had on these businesses.

With the $6,000 it received Morgan Gym upgraded its website which led to the addition of 65 new members and an additional $50,000 in new revenue.

Shirts to a T used their grant of $12,250 to put a down payment on a new seven-head embroidery machine. 

“This greatly expanded their ability to produce embroidery on products,” leading to an increase of at least $70,000 in revenue, Willis said. They also hired a web designer who is now hosting their website along with two people full-time and another part-time.

Like Morgan Gym, Brighten Blades used its $5,200 grant to upgrade its website. This allowed them to increase their visibility at trade shows, resulting in at least $20,000 in sales from the shows alone and a dozen new clients.

Two years ago, Mike Higbee of Higbee Honey/Davinci LC lost all his hives due to inclement weather. A $11,550 grant helped him purchase 64 hives. Higby now maintains 145 hives as a result and has increased revenue by $81,000. He also hired two people full-time and another part-time to help him with the business and recently opened a retail store on Commercial Street.

Higbee recently applied for a $750,000 State Resiliency Food Systems Infrastructure Grant which would enable him to open a 3,000-square-foot honey processing plant.

Local restaurant Phoenix House Down received a $10,000 grant to invest in marketing and to purchase a new oven so they could increase the offerings on their menu. 

“They have been extremely successful with that, and they've increased their gross profit by 57 percent,” Barber said. “They’ve also hired a new manager and they've got some additional staffing.”

SOS drive-thru at Parkside Lanes received its $5,000 grant too late in the season last year to create an area for food trucks with an outside seating area. This summer they will use the funds to get that project going. With the increased exposure they expect they can significantly grow their food business, Willis said.

“Each of these businesses, they're really committed to Morgan County, and they are taking a position as leaders to show other businesses what can happen with their growth,” Willis told the County Commission. “We really appreciate the commission and your support for this program.”

Commissioners in turn praised the work of the board and the impact the grants are having on the Morgan County business community.

“This is amazing,” Commissioner Jared Anderson said. “…This is really making a difference for people.”

“What a great resource and what amazing success stories especially in a small county like this,” he added. “We know them all [the businesses] and it’s just amazing to see these small businesses grow.”

Drawing new businesses to Morgan County is difficult, Fackrell said. So instead “we're building the businesses here and making the businesses in Morgan County sustainable,” he said. “By being sustainable it helps us as a community to have the revenue that we need without having to  raise taxes.”

The Community Economic Opportunity Board is currently evaluating applications from local businesses for a new round of grant funding. λ

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