Rural Summit Back in Cedar City with New Name and Record Number of Attendees

Published: October 08, 2021 | Author: Southern Utah University | Read Time: 3 minutes

One Utah Summit organizer Stephen LisonbeeThe One Utah Summit, previously called the Utah Rural Summit, was back on the campus of Southern Utah University October 4-6, 2021 with a record number of 700 attendees from the business, nonprofit and government sectors. Renamed to reflect the values of Governor Spencer J. Cox’s One Utah Roadmap initiative, this year’s One Utah Summit covered topics ranging from healthcare to economic opportunities in rural areas.

This year marks the 34th anniversary of the summit as the premier place for convening Utah’s top leaders and decision-makers to discuss rural challenges and opportunities.

“One Utah is about ensuring all of Utah has equitable access to the resources and support to live the Utah dream of working where you live and enjoying the highest quality of life,” said Stephen Lisonbee, senior advisor for rural affairs for the Office of the Governor and assistant vice president for SUU’s Office of Regional Services. “Rural Utah is growing and is experiencing growing pains. As we convene together at this summit we are empowering connections and innovation to spur so that these growing pains turn into our future opportunities.”

A newly-added Leadership Day, hosted by SUU Community and Professional Development, offered an emphasis in leadership development. The day kicked off with a couch conversation with Governor Cox about where leadership begins, and included a keynote address about leading with creativity, kindness and inclusion with Janice Brooks, chairwoman of the Utah Humanities Council. The Leadership Day breakouts were presented by Better you Business Express.

Along with the main stage and breakout sessions, the summit featured the State Bank Business Challenge, hosted by SUU’s Larry H. and Gail Miller Center for Entrepreneurship. Intended to help identify and support high-potential early-stage businesses and business ideas, entrepreneurs compete for over $25,000 in cash prizes. Consisting of two rounds, competitors first presented their business ideas to a panel of judges on Monday, then the top finalists presented to conference attendees during lunch on Tuesday afternoon. Seven finalists were narrowed down from more than 50 submissions. The seven finalists won the following awards:

  • Daniel Cluff & Bryce Bennett, Bactelife, $5000
  • Michael Oliphant, Safer Paver, $4800, which included the $3000 People’s Choice Award, mentoring with Rich Christiansen, a luxury cabin stay and 2 hours of tax advising, courtesy of Derek Christensen & Associates
  • Mirryn Morrill, (2021 SUU Graduate and last year's S4 Competition Grand Prize Winner), Morr Decor, $5250 which included the $2000 Governor’s Choice Award and mentoring with Carine Clark
  • Clark Barlow, Buttermints, $3250
  • Daniel Warren, Utah State University, Bison Paddles. $3000
  • John Farnsworth, Gang Box Lid, $1750 and 4 hours legal consulting courtesy of M.A. Munson Law
  • Shawn Johnston, Splendipity Hammocks, $1750

During the business challenge, Utah First Lady Abby Cox recognized SUU President Mindy Benson for her exemplary leadership and service with the SUU Entrepreneur Leadership Council’s Spirit of Southern Utah award. President Mindy Benson’s ties to southern Utah go back generations, and she has served the university in a variety of roles including being the first female president and the first vice president for Alumni and Community Relations at the institution.

Presented by SUU Regional Services, Utah Governor’s Office, Utah Office of Energy Development, World Trade Center Utah, and Governor’s Office of Economic Opportunity, the summit is the longest-running rural development conference in the nation. The event celebrates innovation and provides the ideal platform where partners discuss some of the most influential topics impacting rural Utah. Learn more about the One Utah Summit and the upcoming bi-annual summit at The Grand America Hotel in Salt Lake City on May 10, 2022 at

Better Your Business Express is a University Center partnership between innovation centers at DSU and SUU. The partnership expands capacities of existing resources and focuses on empowering business owners and bolstering economic growth throughout Utah’s Five County Association of Governments (AOG) region, which includes Washington, Iron, Kane, Beaver and Garfield counties. Funding for workshops is provided through the U.S. Economic Development Administration University Center Grant Program that was jointly granted to DSU and SUU.

Tags: Regional Services Utah Rural Summit

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