BEAR Press Release
Castle Country Business Expansion and Retention rolled out a full fledged new Demographic Recruitment program on May 10 at their general board meeting to nearly 40 people.
“What will make this program work will be you and the residents of Castle Country,” said Richard Shaw, whose company has helped develop the effort for BEAR. “We need everyone in this area who is on social media to send out the link to our Demographic Recruitment website so we can get penetration in markets everywhere.”
Shaw said that the idea of demographic recruitment was not a new one but a dozen years old. With today’s use of the Internet, social media and websites to reach people it is something that can finally be very effective in bringing new people to the area.
The idea of demographic recruitment centers on one central idea: it is the recruitment of individuals, rather than focusing on corporate entities to bring economic growth to the communities in Eastern Utah.
“Over my years working at the Sun Advocate as editor and publisher, I did a lot of historical research,” said Shaw. “What I found was that the two-county area would work really hard to try and diversify business when the price of coal was down, but when it went back up it seemed almost everyone would abandon the initiative. That has been going on for 70 or 80 years. And in addition, the efforts were always to bring big business here. In reality, the area really never could have supported a company that came here that offered 1,000 jobs. We just don’t have the workforce. But by recruiting individuals who either are of independent means who will live in the area or small independent business people who may telecommute, we can build things through people, a little at a time, instead of through large firms.”
The idea is that those that relocate here will spend money, use services and pay taxes. Some may even start up their own small businesses, something that could easily be supported by the area.
The effort that culminated in Thursday’s presentation began about two years ago when a committee was formed by the BEAR executive board to put such an effort together. The committee consisted of Jordan Leonard, the Economic Development Director for Emery County, Ryan Murray, who heads the Small Business Development Center, and Ethan Migliori, who is the Director of the Center for Workplace Development on the USU Eastern Campus. Shaw’s Company, Red Dog Communications, was then added to the committee to help do the physical development of the campaign.
Consequently, the idea of how to get people to look seriously about moving to Castle Country was batted about. It was decided that not only was the concept that the area is a great place for outdoor recreation and is fairly close to metropolitan areas without the big city problems, but that the story of transplants to the area should be a key to recruiting other people to come here. The committee interviewed a number of people who moved to the area and have stayed, using their testaments in both videos on the website and in the blogs that accompany it as well.
“This is one of the ways everyone who has come here from somewhere else can help us,” stated Shaw. “We need your stories. We need your point of view and why you came here and stayed.”
Then, Shaw showed all aspects of the website to the group, leading them through a series of videos, menus that feature websites from businesses and government agencies through the area as well as a series of information and sometimes humorous videos concerning the good things about Castle Country.
“If you think some of the videos are a little hokey, they were meant to be that way,” said Shaw. “We think humor has its place in helping people to think about relocating here.”
The blogs on the site are not static but refreshed with new photos and copy between one and three times per week to keep the website active when people search for it.
He then talked about the three-prong approach that is being used by the group to get people interested in relocation.
First, everyone involved in BEAR, from the casual attendee to board members, can send out the link to everyone they know and ask for it to be forwarded to people that their contacts know as well. In addition, if BEAR members have people they know that might be interested, the website can be a great recruiting tool.
“The new website now gives every resident of the area a tool to do that,” stated Shaw.
Second, Emery Telcom’s television services are going to begin playing one of the videos this month on their network of stations, which include the informational television that goes into lodging properties across much of Southeastern Utah. The website’s address (whereshouldilive.org) is prominently displayed on the videos.
“The video we are using is the one we produced about housing costs,” said Shaw. “Think of how expensive housing is in Moab, the biggest tourist town in Southeastern Utah. People who visit may think that they want to live in the area may well be shocked at the prices there. Castle Country is a good alternative to that.”
Third, group recruiting will take place in various places across the metropolitan areas of the Wasatch Front. BEAR will be looking to present the concepts concerning living in Castle Country to people through organizational meetings and other types of events in the more populous areas of the state where many people are tired of traffic, pollution and crowds.
Murray also addressed the group, saying that the website is really at this point a Beta Test of what is being done.
“We are asking you to tell us what you think and how it can be improved,” he said. “We want your input so we can make it a great tool to use.”
He also asked those in the area that look at it to not just look at it but click through to the videos and blogs. This adds power to the site so that its hierarchy on search pages can remains strong.
Shaw said during the program that so many people have told him stories over the years about how they came to the area for jobs, family, to go to school and other reasons, and never intended to stay, but did.
“That is why the theme of the site that is listed right at the top of the page says ‘Many came for a day and stayed for a lifetime,” he said.
Financial support for the project has come from BEAR as well as from the Carbon Emery Board of Realtors, Castleview Hospital, Peczuh Printing and the Tony Basso Group.