CHEYENNE – Gov. Mark Gordon wants ENDOW to turn its expansive vision of how to transform Wyoming’s economy into smaller actionable items that are both achievable and measurable.
Gordon laid out where he wants ENDOW to focus its energies during a Friday meeting in Cheyenne with the group’s executive council. While Gordon had meet briefly with ENDOW leaders early in January, Friday was the first time they have discussed at length Gordon’s vision for former Gov. Matt Mead’s brainchild.
“Help me take this vision that you’ve laid out and turn it into action pieces,” Gordon said. “I want to see how we can put those (good ideas) into action. I do not believe we can do it all at once, and as I said back in January, I am concerned that we as a state simply lack the resources to implement everything in that 20-year strategy now.”
Rob Creager, a policy adviser to the governor, told the committee Gordon was focused on making sure the state could show results from ENDOW’s plans.
“The bottom line is the governor just wants to see the action side of this thing,” Creager said.
Gordon directed the five subcommittee groups that focus on separate elements of the state’s economy to go through their long-term vision and find one item that could produce measurable results within the next two to three years.
“Give me your best idea, or the item you think will have the best impact on your sector in a reasonable amount of time,” Gordon said. “Give me a detailed plan of implementation, how can we put it into action.”
“My goal is to give them a thorough review and implement those that best align with the state’s needs,” he said.
Members of ENDOW wanted to make sure the focus on first steps wouldn’t preclude giving up on long-term goals of economic development and diversification. Gordon agreed and said the focus on the first steps could potentially lay the groundwork for more action.
By the end of the meeting, each group had landed on where they’d focus their actions plans to submit to Gordon later this year. They include:
Outdoor recreation and tourism – Establish a sustainable and autonomous funding source for state tourism initiatives. The group would focus on protecting the current funding in the next budget session and then look to find a successful lodging or visitor tax.
Value added natural resources – Focus on opportunities for research and development in Wyoming and move forward to work with the University of Wyoming and others to find matching fund opportunities. Also examine models from other states that can be replicated.
Knowledge and creative industries – Continue to work on technologies like blockchain and other financial services, increase investments in cultural resource and continue to find ways for businesses to access capital.
Agriculture – Expand and enhance Wyoming markets for ag producers.
Advanced manufacturing – Find a statewide champion for advanced manufacturing that could potentially be a part of the private sector.
Gordon also wanted the executive council members to focus on the potential impacts those items would have on state revenue, whether it would create new revenues quickly or if they’d need initial capital to get off the ground.
Some of the members of the ENDOW board were concerned about whether Gordon would only take action on items that specifically helped to increase state revenues in the short term. While revenues were important, not every action needed to diversify the economy, and being in more businesses will directly produce an increase in the amount of money going into state coffers.
During a discussion with the governor’s staff before Gordon arrived, several members pointed out that investing in the short term in projects would have a negative impact on revenues. They didn’t want to see good ideas not acted on because of the short-term costs.