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PANGUITCH — Following the recent opening of the Vernal Innovation Hub in Uintah County, Garfield County is getting ready to open its own space for remote work, creativity and connection.
The Panguitch Innovation Hub will celebrate with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and open house on Monday, March 29. Callie Ward, a Utah State University Extension professor who's launching the hub with her USU co-worker and Panguitch City Councilman Mike Sarles, told KSL.com the project is nearly two years in the making.
"We actually received the funding in September of 2019," Ward said, referring to a grant from the Governor's Office of Economic Development. The space chosen — inside the Panguitch city hall and library — was being used for storage at the time, she said. "There was a lot of random stuff. One of the rooms held all the newspapers from the past, probably, hundred years."
They got started on clearing the space, but were interrupted twice by the coronavirus pandemic — once during the initial stay-at-home recommendations, then later again when cases surged in the fall. Finally, though, the team was able to spend time on the project this spring and is prepared to open.
Ward said the hub will include large-format printers, copiers, laser engraving equipment, a 3D printer, a podcasting setup, photography and video equipment, and more. The location will even have a commercial "innovation kitchen" for those interested in becoming food entrepreneurs, she said, baking or cooking their products on-site.
"Individuals can lease the (kitchen) on an hourly or daily basis," Ward said, "and do temporary storage of their food product."
Those interested in using the other co-working space can rent dedicated or shared desks for the day or on a longer-term basis, Ward added.
"What we're hoping for is to get more of the permanent remote workers," she said, "but we also want to have this facility be accessible to tourists that are coming through. If they're on vacation and need 20 minutes to run some copies or check their email, they can do that, or they can purchase a day pass."
We want to promote opportunities for remote workers. People would love to live in rural Utah and reap the benefits of rural communities, these beautiful places, without sacrificing job opportunities.
–Callie Ward, Utah State University Extension professor
Ultimately, Ward said the hub's goal is to attract and retain talent in Garfield County and allow its online workers to stay local. "We just jumped on the opportunity to provide a facility and infrastructure for our community, and give a spot for people who want to be remote workers or entrepreneurs. ... We want to promote opportunities for remote workers. People would love to live in rural Utah and reap the benefits of rural communities, these beautiful places, without sacrificing job opportunities."
And after the Panguitch hub is off the ground, Ward said her team will begin work on another hub in Escalante she hopes to have open by the end of the year.
The Panguitch Innovation Hub is located at 25 S. 200 East. Its ribbon cutting and open house will be Monday at 2 p.m., and those interested can RSVP at 435-676-1113.