DSU, SUU receive joint grant to spur entrepreneurship in rural Utah

Dixie State and Southern Utah universities received a University Center Economic Development grant to advance entrepreneurship, cultivate innovation, develop a high-skilled workforce and encourage business expansion in Southern Utah, St. George, Utah, date unspecified | Photo courtesy of Dixie State University, St. George News

ST. GEORGE Dixie State and Southern Utah universities recently received a grant totaling $1.43 million from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration to bridge the state’s urban-rural divide.

The grant will provide the institutions with support over a five-year period, with $143,000 of the sum being awarded this year.

Through the EDA’s University Center Economic Development Program, the universities will offer robust programming and consistent coordination to help the rural areas of Southern Utah catch up with the economic growth the state’s urban areas have experienced over the last decade.

This award from the Economic Development Administration will unquestionably increase Dixie and SUU’s capacities to support economic development in the five-county region,” said Don Willie, executive director of Dixie State’s Technology, Innovation, and Entrepreneurial Center. “We are very pleased to be able to offer entrepreneurs and individuals looking to launch or grow their businesses in rural Utah further resources and greater access to those resources.”

The program will focus on advancing high-growth entrepreneurship, cultivating innovation, developing a high-skilled workforce and encouraging business expansion in Beaver, Garfield, Iron, Kane and Washington counties’ innovation clusters.

With the funding, each university will hire a staff member to manage outreach and delivery of services through business resource center groups such as Utah Science Technology and Research, SCORE Business Mentors, Small Business Development Centers, Procurement Technical Assistance Centers and others.

“We are excited about the opportunities this EDA grant can provide in creating jobs and increasing business productivity and profitability for students and community members in the five-county region,” said Mary Pearson, dean of SUU’s Dixie L. Leavitt School of Business. “We look forward to working with Dixie State in finding ways to promote and support entrepreneurship in rural Utah.”

DSU and SUU were among 20 colleges and universities in 13 states to receive grant funding. The University Center program is a competitively based partnership between the EDA and academic institutions to use university resources to support regional economic development in regions suffering from economic distress.

“Dixie State University is committed to collaborating with Southern Utah University to be a catalyst for regional economic and workforce development,” said Michael Lacourse, provost and vice president of academic affairs at Dixie State. “We are excited to offer the expanded resources the University Center EDA grant will supply to support new business development in rural Southern Utah.”

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