Governor’s Business Alliance brings economic diversity conversations
Cheyenne – From Nov. 7-9, over 500 business leaders from around the state convened in Cheyenne at the 2017 Governor’s Business Forum with the goal of learning and discussing strategies to continue upward movement for the state of Wyoming’s business community.
“Nov. 10 represents the one-year anniversary of the announcement of Economically Needed Diversity Options for Wyoming (ENDOW) at this very event,” said Jerimiah Rieman, director of ENDOW.
Now, a year into the effort, Rieman noted a “That’s WY” campaign has been launched, allowing business leaders to communicate and emphasize why Wyoming is the best place for their businesses.
“Wyoming is home, and there is opportunity,” Rieman said. “That’s what drives many Wyoming business owners.”
“ENDOW is an opportunity for us to develop a 20-year economic diversification strategy and to expand and diversify our existing industry, as well as stimulate and expand opportunities for new industries emerging in the state of Wyoming,” Rieman explained.
He also noted that the program provides long-term strategic vision for the public and private sector to work together in achieving its goals.
Two primary groups have helped to facilitate the work of ENDOW – an advisory board and an executive council.
“The advisory board is made up of 40 individuals across the globe who are grounded to Wyoming in some way,” Rieman said. “They may have grown up here, graduated from University of Wyoming, have a home in Wyoming or more, but they’re across the globe with their businesses, and they want to help us achieve something better.”
Additionally, the executive council provides a team from the private sector who are helping to guide the development of that long-term strategy.
“Many people are wondering where we are today, and there are a number of things we have done. It’s also important to understand this is a long-term visioning process,” Rieman said. “It is going to take time to realize some of these things.”
Rieman also noted investments are necessary today that may not yield results for quite some time into the future, but those investments will be required to achieve the long-term goal.
To detail that progress that has been made, the executive council is compiling a report, which will be released in December, to compile its primary results and recommendations.
“Currently, there are 15 or 16 recommendations that the executive council will consider in December to determine if we want to move forward with those,” he said.
Recommendations include items like higher-education attainment, post-secondary education delivery, workforce training, entrepreneurial ecosystem, air service, broadband and the need to establish a research and innovation fund.
“We looked at data about the amount of research funding the state of Wyoming receives through its research institutions from the federal government,” Rieman said. “We rank 51st behind Puerto Rico, and that’s certainly not acceptable. We need to do better.”
The executive council is also looking at business and innovation zones, the technology sector and whether the state’s buying power should be used to impact and grow the technology sector in Wyoming.
“The executive council is also taking a hard look at the sectors we should begin to pursue as part of our effort and the elements of those across the state, including the stalwart industries of agriculture, tourism and the mineral industry, but also including things like financial services, professional services, advanced manufacturing, healthcare and, of course, technology,” Reiman summarized.
While the process will take significant work over the next eight to nine months, the executive council’s final strategy will be developed for release to Gov. Matt Mead on Aug. 1, 2018.
Look for more from the 2017 Governor’s Business Forum in future editions of the Roundup.
Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.