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Journal/Book Title/Conference

Economics Research Institute Study Paper




Utah State University Department of Economics

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Sanpete County contracted with Utah State University for an analysis of the potential financial feasibility for a regional conference center to be established near or in Ephraim, Utah. The study's objectives included: identify existing conference centers in Utah; identify broad regional and community characteristics, including socioeconomic and resource variables, that are common to existing conference centers; determine similarities and differences between other areas and the proposed area; identify characteristics that are common among successful conference centers; identify alternative conference center configurations; identify costs associated with alternative conference center layouts; develop a listing of potential activities consistent with the alternative layouts; and determine financial feasibility of various layouts and activity levels, including a breakeven analysis.

Three counties were identified which might be similar to the situation encountered in Sanpete County: Uintah and Iron Counties. Uintah County has a viable conference center and Iron County has a combination of facilities that would qualify as a conference center, albeit widely dispersed. Socioeconomic and physical characteristics of these three counties were compared.

Potential activities identified included government, horse and other livestock uses, roping, penning, and general use (i.e., receptions, meetings, etc.). Working against the proposed conference center financial viability are the proximity to Utah County and access to conference-type activities in that area. Working in favor of the conference center is the location relatively close to I-IS and the fact that the conference center could provide a unique "rural" atmosphere to conference proceedings.

Annualized construction and operating or maintenance costs are expected to range from over $500,000 to $270,000 depending on the facility constructed, the interest rate, and the life of the loan. Direct economic impacts are expected to range from $3.2 million for the larger integrated facility to slightly over $65,000 for the smallest configuration. Multiplier effects are very substantial for the larger facilities, i.e., in excess of $4.3 million, but only $88 thousand for the smallest configuration.

Breakeven values were estimated for each of the three facility sizes/configurations. It is possible that the facility could prove feasible in a financial sense if a large enough number of visitor days were achieved, but the county must assume a major share of the initial financing and be willing to continue to fund needed on-going expenses.