Thanks to the outstanding participation from businesses in Kane County, the first phase of the BEAR grant program is well underway for the 2014-15 funding year. The Business Expansion and Retention grant (BEAR) is funded by the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) to assist in rural growth.

The BEAR grant is awarded to eligible counties and the funding is used for several purposes. Primarily, the surveys help to identify barriers to economic growth that the business community experiences first hand.

The secondary purpose is to gather owner’s opinions on matters such as the local business climate, economic development, and current tourism trends and efforts.

Kane County has received the grant in the past and administered the grant programming through the Center for Education, Business and the Arts (CEBA). This year’s grant is much more ambitious than in years past, and a larger number of Kane County businesses are slated to participate.

“We have successfully contacted and interviewed around 65 county business owners since mid-September. My goal is to complete an additional 135 surveys before January 31,” states BEAR surveyor Erin Robinson.

Business participation in the county areas outside of Kanab is crucial as it helps provide an accurate snapshot of business activity throughout the county. Valuable data has already been gathered to help guide future economic development decisions.

Mark Dreitzler, owner of Mark’s Sub Shop in Duck Creek, was thrilled to participate. “I am so glad Kane County is up here and you want to ask me these questions. I want to give my opinion and help make changes to our tourism traffic up here.”

Training schedules are being developed for the new calendar year on various business topics requested through the survey process. Trainings are offered in partnership with the Custom Fit program at the Southwest Applied Technology College and Small Business Development Center.