Brigham City • Stung by the loss of thousands of aerospace jobs and layoffs in other industries, Brigham City on Tuesday announced a $100,000, nine-month effort to boost its manufacturing sector.
"We have an urgent need to do something substantial to create jobs," Mayor Dennis Fife said at a news conference announcing the initiative, which will use private and public money to study of how to spur existing industries in the city and lure new ones.
While the city will steer the study, the mayor said, the entire county will benefit.
Brigham City is the seat of the Box Elder County, where unemployment was 7 percent in June, one percentage point higher than the state's jobless rate.
The county has lost more than 2,000 jobs since 2008 in manufacturing, a sector which makes up about a third of its total employment. Many of those lost jobs paid better than the 16,000-plus non-farm positions that remain. And while the unemployment rate has dropped substantially in the past year, the statistic is deceiving, Fife said.
"There have been a lot that have lost jobs and left," he said.
Alliant TechSystems (ATK) and Autoliv have laid off workers and La-Z-Boy closed its plant in Tremonton. More bad news came Friday, when NASA announced that ATK is out of the running for lucrative contracts to develop spacecraft capable of carrying astronauts and cargo to the International Space Station.
Nonetheless, ATK community relations manager Holly Infante told civic and business leaders gathered Tuesday that ATK "looks forward to continuing to grow strong and be here another 50 years."
ATK is donating $10,000 toward the economic development study.
Roughly half the study's funding will come from the U.S. Economic Development Administration, Fife said. The city, county, state and several businesses are also contributing.
Former Ogden Mayor Matthew Godfrey will conduct the study through an economic development consulting firm he created earlier this year, Better City. Fife said Godfrey has already helped pull funding for the study together, with no compensation.
Paul Larsen, Brigham City's community and economic development director, said the study will have two goals: First it will identify ways to grow industries already in the county and consider industries that may find Box Elder County suitable. Then, it will come up with a strategic plan.