ST. GEORGE (News4Utah) – Dixie State University has received $1.75 million to help bring higher-paying jobs to southern Utah.
“We’ve heard about the tech boom and a lot of things that are happening along the Wasatch Front, but it’s not happening as much in rural areas,” said Kyle Wells, Dean of the College of Business and Communication at Dixie State University.
While St. George remains the fastest growing urban area in the country, Wells is worried his children might not be able to stay.
“We have growth but it’s highly concentrated in healthcare, hospitality, and construction. And there is not a lot of those middle-income, middle-wage jobs that can sustain the increase of costs of living and housing costs,” said Wells.
But the grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration, along with a matching donation from Lindsay and Laura Atwood, will be used to purchase high-tech equipment such as 3-D printers for community use inside the Innovation Plaza at DSU.
“Anybody in any industry at any point in the business cycle of a growing business can come and receive the resources they need,” said Wells.
“We have a Makers space, that we’ll build out here, where you can literally come and build a prototype of a product, and we have a business resource wing where anyone in the community can come, and meet with certified business professionals and counselors that will help them write a business plan,” said Don Willie, Executive Director of the TIE Center inside Innovation Plaza.
“My hope is our kids, if they choose to stay here, can find those opportunities that give them the income that they need to stay here. It’s a wonderful place to live, it’s a wonderful place to raise their family,” said Wells.
This is the largest EDA grant Dixie State has ever received. The Innovation Plaza will also host ACE Academy, a STEM program for gifted high school students, as well as office space for new companies.
They plan to see 260 news jobs added to the local economy within the next nine years.