The push to promote local products made in Utah is expanding into rural areas. Tooele County hosts its first ever Utah’s Own Summit on Friday to help small food-oriented companies expand their business, add jobs, and improve rural Utah’s economy.
Utah’s Own was launched in 2006 to brand local products made in the state. It started with 30 member companies, and has since grown to about 700. Last summer, 150 of those companies were surveyed and 75% indicated Utah’s Own is important to their overall success. Those companies reported that they had created more than 590 new jobs since 2010. Jed Christenson with the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food says the organization provides networking, branding, and exposure opportunities, but up until now they’ve mostly been focused on the most dense population centers of the state.
“Our success has been honestly right along the Wasatch front. First and foremost, the most companies we deal with are in Salt Lake County. And then Utah and Davis and Weber, but the further away you get, the less companies you have that are members of Utah’s own,” Christenson says.
Now Utah’s Own is touring the state and hosting summits in rural areas. In April, they had one in Brigham City. This week, they’re in Tooele. Ryen Salazar works with the Small Business Development Center in Tooele County, and she’s excited to be involved in the summit.
“We have quite a few farmers, ranchers and some food producers, honey makers and cheese producers and I think it would be great exposure for them to get their products outside of Tooele County,” Salazar says. She also says it raises the awareness of local residents. “I’ve spoken to some people who run grocery stores out here and most of them haven’t heard of Utah’s Own, so I think they could benefit from knowing they can get food products and produce right here in their own backyard, rather than having to ship it in.”
Salazar says those who attend the Tooele Summit will hear from industry experts on how to market and grow their businesses.