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Governor’s Business Forum: State leaders gather to discuss innovative solutions

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

The Governor’s Business Forum is Wyoming’s premier business event and was held Nov. 13-15 at the University of Wyoming (UW) in Laramie. The prestigious forum brings individuals who share common values together from some of the state’s largest industries. 

The forum also gives state leaders a venue to discuss ways to move Wyoming forward and the opportunity to network, while creating solutions for current issues.

Indivior’s Global Integrity and Compliance Investigator Tim Mazur kicked off the 40th Annual Governor’s Business Forum with a keynote address on how business ethics affects organizational success.

The pre-forum was a new addition to the yearly event and addressed mental wellness in the workplace. Mazur discussed how business ethics create a culture of care.

“Organizations should focus on encouraging positive behaviors, such as setting a good example, keeping promises and commitments and supporting others,” Mazur recommended. “Adhering to workplace ethical standards allows organizations to grow successfully through cultural values.”

Following Mazur, a panel of industry experts discussed how building organizational culture attracts and retains talented employees while increasing efficiency and productivity.

Closing out the pre-forum was a presentation from Wyoming Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) Chief Executive Officer and PBS Foundation President Joanna Kail. 

Kail introduced a new documentary series, “A State of Mind: Confronting Our Mental Health Crisis in Wyoming,” which traces the journey of patient care and examines solutions to the state’s mental health crisis.

Wyoming’s time is now

“My message for you today is Wyoming is the place where the job gets done,” stated Gov. Mark Gordon. “And it all begins with each of you, doing whatever it takes to get things done, we can do it better.”

Gordon inspired the sold-out crowd with his opening address at the Marian H. Rochelle Gateway Center on UW’s campus.

 He delivered a motivating speech encouraging everyone to find opportunities in the most difficult times and discussed his commitment to finding answers to state issues through innovation.

“We are normal individuals who have the answers,” he continued. “And by working together and utilizing responsible communication, we can create opportunities to advance the state.”

He expressed excitement about making education for children less complicated and more engaging. 

“Our ability to advance has never been greater than now,” he stated. “I encourage everyone to sit down and discuss the future of Wyoming’s next generation of employees. How do we meet their educational needs, being able to offer them careers here in Wyoming communities to fill our Main Streets?”

“By working together, we can advance our agriculture, tourism and tech sectors, making Wyoming a business-friendly state,” he added, “By implementing strategic investments through innovation, not regulation, we can ensure things are better than where we started.”

“I look forward to hearing about the creative ideas this group of leaders comes up with over the next few days. This is where it all begins,” he concluded.

Putting ideas into action

During the two-day event, over 500 attendees had the opportunity to hear from a spectrum of industry leaders.  

Keynote Speaker Dr. Christian Keller, U.S. Army War College professor of history in the Department of National Security and Strategy, presented on strategic action. 

A panel of industry leaders, chaired by Anschutz Corporation Director of Communications and Government Relations Kara Choquette discussed how the factors of strategic business can help Wyoming’s workforce.

Lauren Schoenfeld, Wyoming Innovation Partnership (WIP) executive director, moderated a group of panelists who discussed updates about the program. 

Through WIP, a pipeline from community colleges to the university, businesses can help address Wyoming’s workforce.

“We are using an integrated workforce pipeline approach to identify key constituents which are integral to the development, use and integration of new technologies in agriculture,” stated Eastern Wyoming College President Dr. Jeffry Hawes.

“WIP continues to develop strategies for economic development and diversification in Wyoming,” added Schoenfeld.

In the final discussion for the day, expert panelists discussed how technology, including artificial intelligence, can enhance the energy industry.

The forum celebrates success

During the crowd’s favorite portion of the forum, three institutions – WyoTech, Southwest Wyoming Community Engagement and EMIT – were celebrated for working hard to achieve success. 

Also, forum participants had the pleasure of hearing from panel expert, Former Gov. Dave Freudenthal. He and the panel discussed property taxes, tax system history and a natural resource-based export economy.

To end the first day of the 40th Annual Governor’s Business Forum, the Wyoming Business Hall of Fame Awards Banquet honored four state leaders.

W. Richard Scarlett was honored as the 2023 Legacy Business Hall of Fame Inductee, and Jim Mathis was the Contemporary 2023 Business Hall of Fame Inductee.

The 2023 Wyoming Senate Legislator of the Year Award went to Ogden Driskill (R-HD01), and the 2023 House of Representatives Legislator of the Year was Barry Crago (R-HD40).

Wyoming Hunger Initiative

“Over 86,000 Wyoming residents struggle with food insecurity,” stated First Lady Jennie Gordon, who presented on the Wyoming Hunger Initiative, a project that partners with Wyoming organizations to find modern solutions to help local communities.

The first lady noted over 34,393 pounds of game meat was donated through the initiative’s Food From the Field project in an effort to combat Wyoming’s food insecurity. 

“Gardeners across Wyoming have also joined the fight by reserving space in their gardens to raise produce for local pantries,” she noted.

“Last year, the Fair to Fork program was launched, and we created a partnership with Wyoming 4-H and FFA, intending to have youth participate in the entirety of the ranch-to-table process,” she continued. “We pay for their pigs, pay for the processing and let the child choose the organization they would like to donate the meat to.” 

In 2019, the organization launched the Beef for Backpacks program, and last year they donated 18,700 beef sticks to local communities.

“For the 2023-24 school year, 307 Meat Company volunteered to donate enough beef to produce 205,000 snacks, equivalent to about 60 to 70 head of beef,” she added.

To end the annual event, UW unveiled, for the first time, a state economic forecast, and Wyoming legislative leaders reviewed the upcoming 2024 budget with forum attendees.

Melissa Anderson is the editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to

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