Current Programs & Activities
Southern Utah University’s Office of Regional Services, along with the Vice President for Finance and Government Relations, represents the University’s interests with local, state, federal and tribal governments and policy-makers, and office staff pursues state and federal resources and funding for the advancement of SUU’s community engagement mission.
The SUU Office of Regional Services works directly with and is a point of contact for:
- The Utah Governor’s Office and Executive Branch departments and programs
- The Utah State Legislature and legislative staff
- Utah’s Congressional delegation members and staff
- various federal agencies and programs
- State and Federal policy matters and funding requests.
The Office of Regional Services has a special “community engagement” focus of working closely with local governments and state and federal agencies throughout the region as a partner and resource, assisting them with such things as economic and business development, community planning, cross-jurisdictional collaboration, and natural resource issues. The Office is also a champion for rural Utah priorities and policies and provides rural leadership development opportunities. This Regional Services community engagement role is designed to help fulfill SUU’s mission as Utah's designated public liberal arts and sciences university, with one of three core themes being Community & Social Responsibility.
In fulfilling SUU’s regional community engagement mission, and attempting to bring the resources and expertise of the University—as well as those of our numerous partners—to bear throughout the region, the Office of Regional Services is currently engaged in the following activities and initiatives:
- Governor’s Office and Executive Branch State Agencies
- Utah State Legislature
- Federal Agencies & Programs
- Regional & Local Government
- Utah System of Higher Education
- Other University-Specific Projects
Governor’s Rural Partnership Board
Wes Curtis, Executive Director of Regional Services, serves as SUU President Michael Benson's designee to the Governor’s Rural Partnership Board (GRPB). The GRPB identifies rural economic development policy priorities and makes annual recommendations to both the Governor and the Legislature.
Southwest Utah Planning Authorities Council
Staff from Regional Services provides administrative support for and serves as the co-chair, along with the Governor, of the Southwest Utah Planning Authorities Council (SUPAC), which was created by a gubernatorial executive order in 1994. SUPAC is a forum for regional leaders—state and federal agencies, county and local government, Tribes, higher education and the public—to address community, economic development, natural resource, public lands and other planning issues across southwest Utah.
SUU Mountain Ranch Demonstration Forest with the Utah Division of Forestry
Regional Services, the SUU Mountain Ranch Resource Advisory Council (RAC), and the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire & State Lands have created the state's first “Demonstration Forest” at the SUU Mountain Ranch. The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) formalizing the Demonstration Forest and new relationship between SUU and the Division was signed August 31, 2010, at a celebration at the SUU Mountain Center. Local staff from the the Division participate with the Mtn Ranch RAC, and planning and management work, as guided by the Mountain Ranch Forest Stewardship Plan and Demonstration Forest MOU, is ongoing.
Woods Ranch/SUU Mountain Ranch Community Wildfire Protection Plan
At the request of Regional Services, and as part of the land management planning for the SUU Mountain Ranch, in 2009 the Utah Division of Forestry initiated a community wildfire protection planning (CWPP) process for the Woods Ranch/SUU Mountain Ranch area up Cedar Canyon. Regional Services staff participated with this planning team--which includes Iron County (Woods Ranch Recreation Area), the Dixie National Forest, and numerous private landowners in the area--and was also the lead writer of the CWPP. Implementation activities guided by the CWPP and led by the Division of Forestry are underway at the SUU Mtn Ranch and Woods Ranch Recreation Area as well as with private landowners across the CWPP area.
Frontier Homestead State Park
Regional Services represents SUU as an ex-officio member of the Iron Mission Museum Foundation board of directors. As a result of this participation, both the SUU President’s Council and Deans' Council have toured the park and learned about the Homestead project and resulting park expansion. These visits led to a donation by the University to assist in the restoration and reconstruction on park grounds of the historic Jenson sawmill. An important component of SUU history, the Jenson sawmill was instrumental in milling wood in the late-1800s for SUU’s original and flagship building, “Old Main.” A dedicatory event for the restoration of the sawmill occurred in March 2010 as part of the annual SUU Founder’s Day celebration. Throughout the summer of 2010, Regional Services provided the park with hundreds of posts & poles from the SUU Mtn Ranch's fuels reduction projects for construction of the new palisade fort as well as for other activity stations at the park needing logs and wood. Regional Services staff also provided facilitation services for the park in 2010 during the process to change the park's name from Iron Mission to Frontier Homestead. In 2012, Regional Services has assisted in the development of a long-term partnership between the Park & Foundation and the SUU Art & Design Department.
State of Rural Utah Annual Presentation to the Legislature
Regional Services and the Utah Center for Rural Life at SUU have hosted the Utah Legislature at the annual State of Rural Utah dinner and presentation for 17 years. The 2011 event occurred February 9 in Salt Lake City. New in 2011, the State of Rural Utah presentation was supplemented by Rural Utah Day at the Legislature, a day-long event in partnership with the Governor's Rural Partnership Board and the Utah Center for Rural Life. The 2012 Rural Legislative Day is scheduled for January 27th.
SUU Head Start
SUU is the sponsoring institution, with oversight provided by Regional Services, for the federal Head Start program in southwest 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 provides high-quality education, including health, family and support services, to more than 400 low-income and/or at-risk Head Start families across the region.
Utah Rural Development Council
Regional Services hosts the Utah Rural Development Council (URDC), which was established in 1994 as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s State Rural Development Council program. The URDC brings together and joins with citizens, community-based organizations, representatives of the private, public and higher education sectors, Native Americans, and federal, state and local government officials from across Utah to collectively address the economic and health needs of rural Utah communities and residents.
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 in July 2006. The Alliance establishes a cooperative and mutually beneficial working relationship that furthers the missions of both entities. The five-year renewal of the Alliance for Education Memorandum of Cooperation happened July 29, 2011, at a signing event at the Park.
Zion National Park & Zion Group Alliance for Education
As with the Bryce Canyon National Park Alliance for Education (see entry above), Regional Services is responsible for the Zion Group Alliance for Education, which includes Zion National Park, Cedar Breaks National Monument and Pipe Spring National Monument. Signed in November 2008, the Zion Group Alliance for Education establishes a cooperative and mutually beneficial working relationship that furthers the missions of both the University and each park unit. Regional Services also partnered with Zion National Park in the development of a “sister park” relationship with Danxiashan World Geopark in Guangdong Province, P.R. China. Higher education is a component of this relationship, which includes Guizhou Normal University and SUU. Visits to both parks and universities occurred in late 2009 and early 2010 by delegations from each country. Spectacular Danxiashan, with its similar redrock geology, has been recognized by all the partners as Zion with a tropical forest!
National Park Service/SUU Shared Position
In 2008, Regional Services partnered with Cedar Breaks National Monument (NM) to create and jointly fund this unique SUU staff position. The SUU Intergovernmental Internship Cooperative (IIC) Agency Coordinator is a National Park Service/Cedar Breaks NM employee housed on campus within the new Outdoor Engagement Center's IIC program. The IIC Agency Coordinator serves as a liaison and link between SUU’s academic, outdoor and service programs, particularly the IIC, and the education, internship and personnel needs of the National Park Service as well as other state and federal natural resource management agencies in southern Utah and northern Arizona.
SUU Intergovernmental Internship Cooperative
Regional Services administered the Intergovernmental Internship Cooperative (IIC) from 2008 until early 2012. In cooperation with multiple state and federal natural resource and land management agencies throughout southwest Utah and northern Arizona, the IIC develops public lands leaders of tomorrow by providing SUU students interested in agency careers with internship and other service & learning opportunities. IIC was begun by SUU’s Outdoor Recreation in Parks & Tourism program and Cedar Breaks National Monument, and is now part of the new SUU Outdoor Engagement Center, with continued funding support from Regional Services.
SUU Business Resource Center
The SUU Business Resource Center (SUU BRC) is a “one-stop shop” where business-owners and entrepreneurs can access a full array of business services and technical assistance. The BRC brings key business and entrepreneur assistance entities together under one roof: Small Business Development Center (SBDC) and Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC), Custom Fit Training, SCORE, Utah Science Technology and Research (USTAR) Initiative Outreach Center, and the Cedar City Area Chamber of Commerce. The SUU BRC also provides direct access to the expertise and resources of Southern Utah University's School of Business, along with access to other University programs and technology. 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 SUU BRC, which opened its doors on Cedar City’s historic downtown Main Street in May 2009.
Business Expansion and Retention Program
The SUU Business Resource Center (BRC) is hosting and implementing a three-county (Iron, Beaver and Garfield) Business Expansion and Retention (“BEAR”) Program. Hundreds of businesses across the region have been surveyed through this business visitation and support initiative. BEAR programs are a proven economic and business development strategy, and the BRC's initiative is making a positive impact across the region through generous support from the Utah Department of Workforce Services, Governor's Office of Economic Development, and the federal Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) program.
Business Trainings, Workshops, Seminars and Entrepreneur Forums
Staff from Regional Services and the SUU Business Resource Center (BRC) are actively reaching out across southwest Utah to extend the services and resources of the BRC and the University to local businesses, entrepreneurs and economic development professionals. Central to this effort:
- In partnership with the Kanab (Kane County) Chamber of Commerce, Regional Services has sponsored and funded the monthly Kanab Chamber of Commerce Entrepreneur Forum. A new Kanab initiative beginning in 2012 is the Small Business Roundtable in partnership with the Kanab City Council, Kane County Center for Education, Business and the Arts, and SUU Regional Services.
- Trainings, workshops and seminars for business owners, employees and entrepreneurs are regularly offered throughout the region. Courses include Start Smart, QuickBooks, International Trade, Social Media and Search Engine Optimization, just to name a recent few.
- Regional Services and the BRC participates and cooperates 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.
- The BRC is working with and assisting hundreds of private businesses and entrepreneurs throughout the region each year, whether it be by direct consultation or technical assistance referrals to the many BRC service provider partners, such as the SBDC, USTAR, PTAC, and many others.
Best Business Idea Competition
The SUU Business Resource Center (BRC) hosts this annual competition to support the development of small businesses in Iron, Beaver and Garfield Counties, and to promote healthy economic development with more jobs and an increased tax revenue base. Winners of the 2012 6th Annual Best Business Idea Competition are SUU students Brian Cameron and Kaylon Pickett for their business concept "Face to Face English," which uses video chat features to teach English to students in Asian countries.
Utah Center for Rural Health
The Utah Center for Rural Health, hosted 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. Key programs within the Center include Utah Rural Health Scholars, Rural Health Association of Utah, Area Health Education Center, and Rural Health Resource Center.
Utah Center for Rural Life
Regional Services' Utah Center for Rural Life's mission is to respond to the needs of rural leaders and rural communities. This is accomplished by working collaboratively with existing institutions such as the Governor’s Rural Partnership Board and the Governor's Office of Economic Development's Office of Rural Development to provide the knowledge, tools and resources needed to address rural challenges at the local level. Two of the more important offerings of the Center are the annual Utah Rural Summit and the State of Rural Utah presentation to the Utah Legislature.
Utah Rural Summit
Since 1988, the annual 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. The 2012 25th Anniversary Rural Summit took place August 9-10 on the campus of Southern Utah University. Regional Services and the Utah Center for Rural Life are proud to host the Utah Rural Summit—where rural Utah meets!
Rural Business Conference
Along with the Salt Lake Chamber, the Office of Regional Services planned and hosted the statewide 10th Annual Rural Business Conference on April 12, 2012 in Richfield. Prior to the 2012 conference, Regional Services' Utah Center for Rural Life (see entry above) was a co-host of former Senator Robert F. Bennett's long-running and very successful Rural Business Conference.
Utah Prairie Dog Recovery Implementation Program
In cooperation with numerous local, state, federal, Tribal and non-governmental partners from across the region and state, SUU and the Office of Regional Services are pleased to host the Utah Prairie Dog Recovery Implementation Program (UPDRIP). UPDRIP’s goals are to: 1) Recover the Utah prairie dog so that it no longer requires protection under the Endangered Species Act; and, 2) Allow for existing land uses and continued growth and development within the historic range of the Utah prairie dog. Regional Services staff serves on the UPDRIP Executive Committee and Program Council, and the UPDRIP Coordinator, which is funded by the Program Partners, is an SUU Regional Services employee.
Five County Association of Governments
Regional Services represents SUU as an ex-officio (non-voting) member of the Five County Association of Governments’ (FCAOG) Steering Committee, which meets monthly across the region. The FCAOG is comprised of the five southwest Utah counties of Beaver, Garfield, Iron, Kane and Washington Counties. Regional Services also participated with the former FCAOG Natural Resources Committee, and currently is assisting with the update of the AOG's region-wide Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy.
Five County Association of Governments’ Annual Human Services Public Forums
Regional Services is pleased to support the Five County Association of Governments’ Annual Human Services Public Forums. Held across the five southwest Utah counties each spring, the public forums utilize the Office’s interactive audience-response keypad polling system. This planning and public involvement technology is a cutting-edge method to engage an audience, and Regional Services is pleased to partner with FCAOG and its Human Services Public Forums by providing this system.
Six County Association of Governments’ Annual Leadership Summit
Regional Services, along with the Utah Rural Development Council, a non-profit organization housed within the Office, is pleased to be a sponsor of and participant with the Six County Association of Governments' Annual Leadership Summit. The 2012 Summit was held in Richfield on April 4.
Iron County Natural Resource Management Specialist & Natural Resource Planning
During the summer of 2008, Regional Services worked with the Iron County Commission and provided “seed” funding to hire a full-time Iron County Natural Resource (NR) Specialist. Mike Worthen, the Iron County 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 staff serves as an ex-officio member of the Commission-appointed Iron County NR Council, and staff provides technical assistance for the Iron County resource management planning initiative.
Iron County Coordinating Council
Regional Services regularly represents the University at the Iron County Coordinating Council, which is comprised of elected officials from Iron County and municipalities within the county. Regional Services provides SUU updates of interest to the Council as well as serves as the connection to local government to access the resources and expertise of the University for their benefit.
Cedar City Landscape Architecture & Environmental Planning Charrette
Regional Services facilitated this exciting service project provided by Utah State University's Landscape Architecture & Environmental Planing (LAEP) Program for Cedar City. Occurring throughout the 2010/11 academic year, LAEP students and faculty provided their annual community planning charrette and resulting community visioning and digital design products to Cedar City. For the first time, SUU students and faculty participated with an LAEP charrette, and, along with Cedar City, the Office of Regional Services also provided funding to support the effort.
Washington County General Plan Revision
Regional Services is pleased to have provided planning and other technical assistance to Washington County as county planners revised the existing General Plan through 2009 and 2010. As with Iron County’s Resource Management Plan (see entry above), Regional Services’ assistance was primarily focused on the natural resource and public lands sections of the General Plan as well as increasing and improving understanding and collaboration between the county and land management agencies.
Zion Canyon Corridor Council (ZC3)
Regional Services is an ex-officio member of the Zion Canyon Corridor Council (ZC3). ZC3 is a regional planning initiative striving to apply Principle 1 of the recently-completed Washington County Vision Dixie planning process: “Plan Regionally, Implement Locally.” Staff from Regional Services serves as the Secretary for ZC3, while the office also provides other technical assistance and funding for corridor and community planning along State Route 9, the “gateway” to Zion National Park and ZC3’s area of emphasis. One of ZC3’s latest planning endeavors was a rural transit feasibility study for SR 9, and the Office of Regional Services is pleased to be a funding partner for this project.
Southwest Utah Renewable Energy Center
Regional Services serves on the Steering Committee for the Southwest Utah Renewable Energy Center (SUTREC) in Milford. The mission of SUTREC is to showcase and promote renewable energy in the resource-rich area of Beaver County and southwest Utah. SUTREC partners cooperate to advance renewable energy education, training, research, technology and production leading to high-skill, high-wage employment, career and entrepreneurial opportunities. SUTREC sponsors the annual Milford Renewable Energy Fair held at Milford High School in late April. The 2012 Fair, which drew nearly 600 participants, was held April 26. Beginning in 2011, SUTREC's operations have been greatly enhanced by a grant secured by Regional Services from the U.S. Department of Labor for renewable energy workforce training, resource development, and regional renewable energy economic, entrepreneurship and business development.
Renewable Energy Mobile Education Trailer
As a component of the Office of Regional Services' Department of Labor award in support of renewable energy workforce training and business development in the region, the Southwest Utah Renewable Energy Center (see entry above) has developed a one-of-a-kind mobile renewable energy education trailer. This unique energy training tool is now operational, and SUTREC staff is delivering renewable energy training and education throughout the region and beyond.
Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah Small Business Development Conference
SUU is proud to have hosted this conference for Tribal members and entrepreneurs on May 10, 2012, at SUU's Hunter Conference Center. Regional Services staff worked closely with the Tribe's Economic Development office to plan and sponsor the conference.
Utah Cluster Acceleration Partnership (UCAP)
At the direction of SUU President Michael Benson, Regional Services is pleased to oversee SUU's UCAP initiative. A state-wide project of the Utah System of Higher Education, the objective of UCAP is to capitalize on the position and contribution that institutions of higher education can make to the overall economic development of both their respective region and the Utah state economy as a whole. With key SUU partners such as the School of Business and SUU Business Resource Center, SUU's UCAP effort kicked-off in early 2011. Our initial Cluster of Small Business Development acceleration was approved by the UCAP Oversight Committee on June 29, 2011. Throughout 2012/13, Regional Services is overseeing the implementation of our six strategies for assisting and accelerating the region's small business sector:
- Develop a Certificate Program in Entrepreneurship and Small Business Management (School of Business)
- Provide a Region-Specific Economic Data Service (School of Business and Department of Economic & Finance)
- Sponsor and Host Entrepreneurship Forums, particularly the Southern Utah Technology Council (Regional Services and the SUU Business Resource Center)
- Develop a Small Business Internship Program (University College and the Office of Career and Professional Development)
- Implement an Economic Gardening Demonstration Project (Regional Services)
- UCAP Marketing and Outreach (Regional Services)
Regional Services is now assisting the College of Performing and Visual Arts with securing SUU's next UCAP project, which will focus on accelerating the region's "Creative Economy."
Academic Strategic Plan
Regional Services was actively involved throughout the 09/10 and 10/11 academic years with the revision of the University’s Academic Strategic Plan. Led by the Office of the Provost, the new Academic Road Map for 2010-2013 is an exciting endeavor that will guide SUU into the future. Among other activities associated with the planning, Regional Services staff served on the University Mission Statement Revision Work Group and Experiential Learning Focus Group as well as participated with the Outdoor Engagement Center Experiential Education Requirement Committee.
SUU Mountain Ranch Resource Advisory Council
In the summer of 2008 Regional Services was given oversight authority for the University’s undeveloped Mountain Ranch. This 2,383-acre forested property is along State Route 14 approximately ten miles up Cedar Canyon. The Ranch surrounds the existing SUU Mountain Center, which is managed by SUU Guest Services. Regional Services created and facilitates the Mountain Ranch Resource Advisory Council (RAC), which is developing, and now implementing, the first-ever resource management plan (RMP) for the Ranch. Through the RAC and RMP planning process, numerous management opportunities and partners, both on campus and off, are being explored and utilized. The latest planning endeavor was the development of an Interpretive Plan for the Ranch, which was completed fall 2011. Throughout 2012, the RAC has been planning for the first "demonstration units" under the Demonstration Forest MOU with the Utah Division of Forestry. Logging of these units is scheduled to occur during the winter of 2012/13.
SUU/Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah Collaborating Council
Regional Services participates with the SUU/Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah Collaborating Council, patterned after the University’s successful Alliances for Education with the National Park Service. Three areas of emphasis for the Council include community development, economic development, and student recruitment & retention, including student internship opportunities. Regional Services partnered with the Tribe's Economic Development Office to plan and host the May 10, 2012, Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah Small Business Development Conference held at SUU.
SUU Museum of Natural and Cultural History
The new Garth and Jerri Frehner Museum of Natural History, which opened in early 2012, is a highlight of the newly constructed SUU Science Center. Regional Services provided extensive assistance to the University’s museum planning team by bringing Utah State Parks experts in museum and exhibit planning and development to the effort. At the request of the museum planning team, and with the guidance and participation of our State museum services partners, Regional Services funded and organized a “Museum Summit” in late January 2010. And during spring 2010, Regional Services staff facilitated the development of a museum Interpretive Plan with the planning committee. Technical support and funding for the planning team continued into 2011.