Southern Utah University’s commitment to community and business engagement and development is clearly defined in its Regional Services mission statement:
SUU’s Regional Services role is to be a provider of premier educational opportunities both on and off campus; a partner and resource to businesses, communities and governments; a key driver and catalyst for regional economic growth; a source of artistic and cultural enrichment for the region’s residents; and to build regional pride and identity through outstanding sports and recreation programs.
In fulfilling this regional mission, and attempting to bring the resources of the University and our numerous partners to bear throughout the region, the Office of Regional Services is currently engaged in the following activities and initiatives:
Business Resource Center
The new SUU Business Resource Center (BRC) is a “one-stop shop” where businesses and entrepreneurs can access a full array of business services and technical assistance. The BRC brings key business assistance entities together under one roof. These include the Small Business Development Center (SBDC), Utah Science Technology and Research (USTAR) Outreach Center, Custom Fit Training, the Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC), the SUU School of Business, the SUU College of Computing, Integrated Engineering and Technology, and the Cedar City Chamber of Commerce. The BRC also partners and works closely with local and regional community and economic development offices as well as private sector mentors and sources of business financing. Regional Services is the catalyst for the new SUU BRC, which will open an office on Cedar City’s downtown Main Street in February 2009.
Economic Development Conference Sponsors
During spring 2008, Regional Services co-sponsored, funded and assisted with the planning and delivery of county and regional economic development conferences and trainings in Garfield County (Garfield County Business Resource Conference, March 11, Bryce Canyon City, with USU Extension Services and Garfield County Economic Development) and Kane County (Canyon Region Economic Development Alliance Summit, April 5, Kanab).
Entrepreneur Forums and County & Business Assistance
Regional Services is actively reaching out to the surrounding communities in southwest Utah to extend the services of the SUU Business Resource Center to rural businesses, entrepreneurs and economic development professionals. Central to this effort are SUU-sponsored and funded monthly entrepreneur forums in Kane County economic development planning with and technical & funding assistance to Garfield County and extensive partnering across the region with local Chambers of Commerce, the Southwest Applied Technology College, Utah State University Cooperative Extension Services and Dixie State College of Utah.
Governor’s Rural Partnership Board
Regional Services has a dual role with the Governor’s Rural Partnership Board (GRPB) – both as a standing member and as staff support to the Board. The GRPB identifies rural economic development policy priorities and makes annual recommendations to both the Governor and the Legislature.
Senator Bennett’s Rural Business Conference Co-Sponsor
SUU has been Senator Bennett’s co-sponsor for the annual Rural Business Conference and assisted in the planning and execution of the conferences since their inception seven years ago. As the Rural Business Conference planners entertain exciting changes heading into 2009, Regional Services looks forward to continuing this beneficial partnership and being a key part of the conference’s success.
State of Rural Utah Annual Presentation to the Legislature
SUU, through Regional Services, has hosted the Utah Legislature at the annual State of Rural Utah dinner and presentation for over 15 years.
Utah Rural Summit
For 21 years the Utah Rural Summit has been the state’s premier forum for policy discussion and capacity building for rural leaders relative to community and economic development issues affecting rural Utah. The Summit features nationally-renowned speakers coupled with local implementation strategies to help rural communities succeed in the global economy. Regional Services is proud to host the Utah Rural Summit—where rural Utah meets!
Community Engagement Fund
In order to stimulate and support SUU faculty and student engagement with the broader community, Regional Services has established the “SUU Community Engagement Fund” (CEF). This grant program is designed to help cover faculty costs associated with community related activities. Support for SUU’s Cedar Mountain Science Camp and outreach to science teachers is an example of a recently-funded CEF project.
Faculty Service Learning Committee
SUU’s Faculty Service-Learning Committee, chaired by Dr. Earl Mulderink, is focused on connecting SUU faculty and students with the community through such things as service learning, internships, and community faculty projects. While not faculty, Regional Services, at the request of Dr. Mulderink, participates with this Committee providing Vice President and staff support.
Five County Association of Governments
Regional Services represents SUU as a voting member of the Five County Association of Government’s (FCAOG) Steering Committee. FCAOG is comprised of the five southwest Utah counties of Beaver, Garfield, Iron, Kane and Washington Counties. Regional Services also participates with the FCAOG Natural Resources Committee.
Iron County Natural Resource Management Specialist & Planning
During Summer 2008, Regional Services worked with the Iron County Commission and provided “seed” funding to hire a full-time Natural Resource (NR) Management Specialist. Mike Worthen, the new Iron Co. NR Specialist, is responsible for developing and implementing an Iron County Resource Management Plan. This is a nationally-significant effort to collaboratively and proactively address public lands planning and management issues from the local level utilizing a planning model developed by Regional Services personnel. Regional Services is now actively involved with the Iron County NR Council and providing technical assistance on county resource management planning.
SUU Head Start
SUU is the sponsoring institution, with oversight provided by Regional Services, for the federal Head Start program in southern and central Utah, SUU Head Start is a federally-funded, community-governed, preschool program spanning 25,000 square miles in six southwestern Utah counties. Well-trained, dedicated staff provide high quality education, including health, family and support services, to over 400 low income and/or at-risk Head Start families.
Utah Center for Rural Health
The Utah Center for Rural Health (Center), overseen by Regional Services, is a community/campus partnership created to improve the health status of and access to health services for residents across rural Utah. The Center provides leadership by linking academic, community, government, private and public resources to address healthcare issues.
Zion Canyon Corridor Council (ZC3)
Regional Services is a member of the Zion Canyon Corridor Council (ZC3), a regional planning initiative striving to apply Principle 1 of the recently-completed Washington County Vision Dixie planning process: “Plan Regionally, Implement Locally.” Regional Services is providing technical assistance and funding for corridor and community planning to the communities along State Route 9, the gateway to Zion National Park. Currently, SUU is partnering with Utah State University’s Landscape Architecture & Environmental Planning Program on an extensive corridor study that will provide alternative futures for growth, development and other critical elements identified by the Council.
Other Community Assistance
In the past six months, Regional Services staff have provided planning or other technical assistance in or to the communities of:
In this same timeframe, Regional Services has also worked with Beaver, Iron, Garfield, Kane, Sanpete, Uintah and Washington County officials on local projects and initiatives.
Bryce Canyon National Park Alliance for Education
Regional Services serves as the primary contact for SUU’s “Alliance for Education” with Bryce Canyon National Park, which was signed July 2006. The Alliance establishes a cooperative and mutually beneficial working relationship that furthers the missions of both entities.
Cedar Breaks National Monument to National Park Initiative
Regional Services is participating with a local task force assessing the possibility of pursuing federal legislation to enlarge Cedar Breaks National Monument and designate it a National Park.
Colorado Plateau Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Unit
Regional Services represents SUU as a member of the Colorado Plateau Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Unit (CPCESU). The CPCESU creates opportunities for research, education, and technical assistance to support stewardship of natural and cultural resources by federal agencies on the Colorado Plateau. CPCESU ensures that the expertise of academic and non-governmental partners is made available to assist federal resource managers in accomplishing their agency missions. The federal partners allocate funding to a wide variety of projects and non-federal partners and support their research, education, and outreach missions.
Intergovernmental Internship Cooperative
Regional Services has provided administrative funding for and technical assistance to SUU’s Intergovernmental Internship Cooperative (IIC). As part of SUU’s Outdoor Recreation in Parks and Tourism program, IIC has a formal agreement with state and federal natural resource and land management agencies throughout southwest Utah to place SUU student interns interested in agency career opportunities. Cooperative partners include local units of the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, US Forest Service and Utah State Parks. IIC is currently undergoing an administrative transformation that will both change the name of the program (soon to be the “SUU Public Lands Leadership Program”) as well as shift organizationally to become a program of Regional Services. Furthermore, IIC will soon benefit from the additional expertise of a unique shared position between SUU and the National Park Service’s Cedar Breaks National Monument (see next entry).
National Park Service/SUU Shared Position
SUU, under the direction of Regional Services, and the National Park Service, Cedar Breaks National Monument, are working in board to fund and hire a shared staff position, the Intergovernmental Internship Cooperative Agency Coordinator. This new position—a Cedar Breaks National Monument employee housed on campus—will serve as a liaison and link between SUU’s education and outdoor programs, particularly the IIC, and the education and internship interests of the National Park Service as well as other state and federal resource management agencies in southern Utah, northern Arizona and eastern Nevada.
Regional Planner Project
Regional Services participates with the Utah Department of Community and Culture’s Regional Planner Project (RPP). Funded by the Utah Permanent Community Impact Fund Board (PCIFB), the purpose of the RPP is to mitigate socio-economic impacts resulting from natural resource development on federal lands by providing for continuous quality planning throughout rural Utah. PCIFB provides funds (state mineral lease monies) for participating regional Associations of Governments to commit a full-time planner, whose time and responsibilities will be dedicated solely to the core mission and goals of the PCIFB.
Southern Utah Planning Authorities Council
Created by a gubernatorial executive order in 1994, Regional Services serves as a co-chair (along with the Governor’s designee) for the Southwest Utah Planning Authorities Council (SUPAC) and provides SUPAC programs and agendas. SUPAC is a forum for regional leaders—state & federal agencies, county and local government, tribes, academia and the public—to address community, economic development, natural resource, public lands and other planning issues in southwest Utah.
SUU Mountain Forest
In the summer of 2008, Regional Services was given oversight authority of the University’s undeveloped mountain forest. The 2,800-acre forest property—often referred to as the “Mountain Ranch”—is along State Route 14 approximately 10 miles up Cedar Canyon. The property surrounds the existing SUU Mountain Center, which is managed by SUU Conference Services. Numerous opportunities and potential partners are being explored, both on campus and off. Exciting initiatives for the forest will occur as possibilities are assessed.
SUU Outdoor Initiative
In the fall of 2007, SUU instituted its Outdoor Initiative (OI), a long-overdue formal initiative to capitalize on SUU’s unique location while recognizing and coordinating outdoor programs, activities and opportunities. Regional Services facilitated the OI Task Force that created the OI Action Plan and also participates with the OI Steering Committee. Regional Services also serves as the point of contact for OI. Ultimately, it is SUU’s expectation that “outdoors” will be incorporated into all aspects of the University: education, facilities, partnerships and recreation. Our OI Vision is that Southern Utah University will be renowned for innovative learning experiences within our unique natural environment, providing world-class opportunities for outdoor education and recreation, and cultivating a life-long curiosity and appreciation for the land.
Utah Prairie Dog Recovery Implementation Program
Regional Services coordinates SUU’s participation with the recently-created Utah Prairie Dog Recovery Implementation Program (UPDRIP). UPDRIP’s purpose is the establishment of a partnership effort to cooperatively implement the Utah Prairie Dog Recovery Plan while balancing and accommodating needs of the human population. While not a voting member of the UPDRIP board, SUU provides technical assistance and scientific expertise (through the College of Science) to the UPDRIP partnership.
Zion National Park Centennial Celebration
Regional Services represents SUU on the planning committee for the 2009 Zion National Park Centennial. Numerous activities are planned for the year-long celebration including many from SUU faculty and staff. Regional Services is coordinating these SUU projects and activities, many of which will benefit both the Park and adjacent communities.
Zion National Park & Zion Group Alliance for Education
Regional Services is working with the Zion Group—including Zion NP, Cedar Breaks NM and Pipe Springs NM—in the creation of an Alliance for Education similar to the formal relationship SUU has with Bryce Canyon National Park.
The Zion Group Alliance for Education is soon to be announced in November 2009 and Regional Services, as we do with Bryce Canyon NP, will serve as the point of contact for this more formal relationship between the University and park units.