A considerable amount of change has taken place over the past several years in the Short Creek Valley. Among these changes is the formation of the Uzona Chamber of Commerce which officially launched in June of 2016 with a primary focus to stimulate economic growth. The social and political structure of the area has historically limited the economy, forcing many to seek the jobs, goods, and services they require outside of the community. With the continuing changes, the Uzona Chamber of Commerce hopes to stimulate a thriving local economy for the benefit of everyone in the Valley.
Harvey Dockstader Jr. is the Interim President of the Uzona Chamber of commerce and one of the founding members. Founders include Al Yarrish, Brian Holm, George Jessop, and Villia Holm. According to Dockstader, the chamber is focused on, “sponsoring, hosting and promoting anything that has to do with building up the local economy.” The Chamber is working to help provide vital business infrastructure as well as workforce and business resources to accommodate the new opportunities that are materializing as the political, property and demographic dynamics change and become more conducive to a functional economy. According to Dockstader, “Our primary focus is to shift the reputation of this area from no trespassing signs and high walls to everyone is welcome, and we invite you to stop and enjoy our local businesses.”
Historically, the main opportunities available to the workforce have been outside of the community, stretching to the oil fields of North Dakota and beyond. The community boasts a large workforce of supremely talented builders and technicians with experience in every aspect of construction both commercial and residential. Similarly, many in the community have relied upon the service industry jobs in the outlying communities of Springdale, Kanab, Cedar City and St. George. There are many in the community with extensive experience in the mortgage industry which has been one of the only long-term opportunities available to locals. There is also a culture of hard work and ingenuity that animates the individuals of this community to the benefit of all industries it reaches.
One industry the Chamber finds particularly promising is tourism, and it is not hard to see why. The area is neatly positioned between Zion National Park and Grand Canyon National Park, which are ranked in the top 5 most visited parks in the nation. That amounts to a whopping 10 million visitors, between the two of them, last year. Visitation is only expected to increase. “I think tourism is a huge market that we have not only never tapped in to, but have chased it away,” says Dockstader. “We see this area as a hub for so many major destinations,” he continues. “There are 4500 cars that drive past here every day, and we want to invite them to use our bed and breakfast, lodging, restaurants, and gas. “I’ve been all over the world, and there’s nothing like these mountains, anywhere else,” he said. “We could be the baby Zion National Park.”
The president of the St George Chamber of Commerce, Pam Palermo, recently invited the Uzona Chamber of Commerce to join the Southern Utah Regional Chamber Coalition. The coalition includes the Chambers of Mesquite, St George, Cedar City, Hurricane and Richfield. The Uzona Chamber of Commerce will be hosting members of the Coalition at the Most Wanted Bed and Breakfast in September of this year.
The Chamber Coalition will connect the Uzona Chamber of Commerce to their existing network of resources, including speakers on various business topics each month. “They’re excited because they want to tap into the workforce that we have and connect the workforce to those that have jobs available,” says Dockstader. The Uzona Chamber, as well as members of the coalition, view the people in our area as very well suited to provide value to, not only our local economy, but to the surrounding economy as well. People from our community have skills that surrounding communities have difficulty filling, according to Dockstader. “The chamber is going to be actively involved in bringing outside investment.” He continues, “We want to get services here that you would expect in any small town.”
The Uzona chamber provides personal ($60) and business ($100) memberships which renew annually. These membership benefits include training sessions, networking opportunities, education on specific topics, general marketing of the area, ribbon cutting ceremonies, and other support.
Written in the bylaws of the Uzona Chamber of commerce, is an invitation for each of the communities in the area to have a representative on the board. This includes the cities of Apple Valley, Hildale and Colorado City as well as the communities of Centennial Park, Canebeds and Mocassin. The chamber does not currently have representatives from each of these communities but they are actively seeking that representation to gain feedback from the communities they intend to serve. “We want every community to see us as a non-partisan, non-sectarian advocate for economic growth,” says Dockstader.
If you would like more information on the Uzona Chamber of Commerce, you can visit their website at www.uzonachamber.org or email them at email@example.com. They meet the 3rd Saturday of every month at the Berry Knoll Bakery conference room, 10:00 a.m., local time.