Epicenter works to build a stronger, more resilient local economy and break the boom-bust cycle that causes economic stress, a dilapidated built environment, and social inequality. We do this by empowering local entrepreneurs and assisting the city's effort to grow sustainably.
When Epicenter first formed, a chamber of commerce in Green River didn’t exist, so in collaboration with local leaders, we formed “Potluck” to discuss economic development issues and local tourism. The group spawned out of local leaders’ desire for increased communication in town and to encourage solidarity. Through Potluck many small projects were executed: a volunteer beautification committee (GRIT) was formed, a town branding strategy began (see below), and the Green River Downtown Revitalization Plan (Waypoint: Green River) was drafted.
Destination Green River
“What is there to do around here?” It’s a question we hear often in Green River but many find it challenging to easily answer. In an effort to help give better information to visitors and passers-by, Epicenter and Potluck created Destination Green River, which promotes Green River and its surroundings. With the help of the City of Green River and the Emery County Travel Bureau, we created the Destination Green River website with accompanying Green River brochures and day trip cards. The day trip cards feature Green River residents’ favorite spots, such as the Crystal Geyser, Black Dragon Canyon, and Sego Canyon. Each card has detailed directions, suggested activities, and tips. The website hosts these trips as well, along with coordinates and links to local events. The brochures give historical information about Green River, give a guide to eating and staying in Green River, and recommend regional attractions.
In our Potluck meetings, ideas of adding additional non-motorized trails were often discussed and promoted by local business owners. These trails would connect residents and visitors to natural, historic and modern landmarks, provide recreation areas, and promote health awareness. New trails in Green River would benefit the local population, improve their quality of life and support economic development of Green River. In January 2015, Green River City Council adopted the Green River Trails Opportunity Plan into the city’s General Plan. The Trails Opportunity Plan was drafted over the course of twelve months in partnership with the National Park Service’s Rivers, Trails & Conservation Assistance Program. One of the components in the opportunity plan directs the city to develop non-motorized trails in areas around Green River where recreation assets are underutilized and where types of use can be expanded.
In 2018, the first trail in Green River was completed. The Athena Trail, named for the missiles that used to be launched near the site, is a 5.5 mile single-track biking loop. It starts south of town and features amazing rock formations and a spectacular viewpoint of the Green River and surrounding valley. The trail has gotten positive feedback from cyclists and community leaders who all look forward to more trail development in Green River.
Green River Branding
With tourism becoming a larger part of Green River’s economy each year, Epicenter helped the City to take control of and build on the assets of our community by creating a new brand for Green River. Epicenter formed a committee of local engaged citizens to spearhead these efforts. With this committee, we selected HUB Collective in Portland to do the research and design. Epicenter also facilitated the review and feedback sessions with the agency, branding committee, and City, making sure the community had a say in the process. Along with branding, badges, and digital files, HUB also designed pole banners and billboards that show off Green River’s natural beauty and the vibrant community.
GREEN RIVER ROCKS
Green River businesses only reach full capacity during peak tourism months. To extend the season earlier into the year and take advantage of our spectacular nearby sites, artists Alison Jean Cole and Lisa Ward worked with Epicenter to develop the first Green River Rocks (originally called the Green River Rock & Mineral Festival).
The festival started with a lecture on important dinosaur discoveries in the Green River area by Utah State Paleontologist Dr. Jim Kirkland. The rest of the weekend featured expert-led field trips to local geological sites as well as vendors, craft demonstrators, family activities, and an exhibit of locals’ rocks. Also at the museum, a dry-stack stone wall was constructed to celebrate the architectural history of Southeast Utah.
The event has been adopted by the County and the City and added to their annual events calendar. Epicenter continues to manage the event with Alison Jean Cole as lead and in direct partnership with the Bureau of Land Management of Utah.
The pilot of this event was a part of the National Endowment for the Arts Our Town Program, and was made possible by Emery County Travel Board, Sorenson Legacy Foundation, City of Green River, and the J.W. Powell River History Museum.
Epicenter continues to support the City of Green River, alongside consultants Better City and River Revitalization as well as the Green River Trails Committee, to develop more economic opportunities in town. Additionally, Epicenter continues to bring resources to local business leaders and entrepreneurs including workshops on topics such as business planning and providing subsidized access to designers, artists, and contractors.