Bring On The Business

New names, same game for economic development group


The names and faces have changed among the Payson Regional Economic Development Corporation's leadership, but according to the corporation's new president, the mission remains the same.

"We want to do whatever we can to aid the economic development of Payson and the surrounding areas," said Payson Regional Medical Center C.E.O. Russell Judd, who became president of the volunteer organization this month.

"Our purpose is to expand the economic viability of Payson," he said, "meaning if any area grows, everybody prospers."

That philosophy fueled the board's decision to extend its focus beyond the boundaries of Payson to include Pine, Strawberry, Round Valley and Star Valley in its roster of communities ripe for economic maturation.

With that decision came a corporation name change, and "Regional" was added to the group's initial moniker Payson Economic Development Corporation.

Retaining established businesses and recruiting new prospects continues to be the heart of the corporation, which strives to attract light manufacturing businesses and technology-based companies to the area. More small businesses will create more jobs, and those new employees will boost the area's overall economy, Judd said.

"Our goal is to fill in the gap for new businesses, whatever that may mean land, people, anything," Judd said. "Now I'm not saying that this is a blank check, but we do what we can to facilitate fulfilling their needs."

But the corporation, which once had an active revolving business loan program, is planning to be more cautious with its monetary assistance.

"We are not a bank, and we have had a difficult time with loans in the past," Judd said. "But... money sometimes may be the deal breaker, and we may then loan the money."

The nonprofit group is actively considering making its monthly discussions on economic development an everyday occurrence with the hiring of a full-time staff member.

"This person will do immense work, from seeking prospects and grants to acting as a liaison for public officials," Judd said. "It would be much more organized and efficient because the corporation only meets once a month."

Also in progress is a complete strategic plan for the economic future of Payson called "Future Focus," he said.

Ray Schum, who resigned as the group's president after he was elected Payson mayor last year, said the economic development corporation is poised for success this year.

"I think I'm leaving behind a viable group that's energetic and enthusiastic and will only get better, because there's an awful lot of support for economic development as far as the new town council is concerned," he said.

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