TORRINGTON – Goshen Economic Development hosted their annual meeting Friday evening at 21st and Main in Torrington. The event recognized local businesses and individuals for their commitment to economic prosperity in Goshen County.
Board President Scott Prusia opened the meeting, leading in the Pledge of Allegiance and introducing the board members.
The board members include Prusia, Eric Alden with Kroenmark, LLC, J&B Liquor, Wade Bruch with Pinnacle Bank, Brandi Cook with Town of Lingle, Cactus Covello with Points West Community Bank, Joe Guth with Platte Valley Bank, Jeff Harkins with City of Torrington, Jeff Jones with Great Gardens, Ryan Kramer with Goshen County School District, Justin Loeffler with Green Tree Ag, Alessandro Meloni with Transwest Ford, Zach Miller with Community Hospital, Michael Pacheco with WMCI, Steve Paisley with UW SAREC, Todd Peterson as an at-large member, Kyle Rafferty with J.G. Elliott, Michael Schmitt with Torrington Livestock, Kelly Sittner with First State Bank, Kurt Sittner with TDS Environmental Services, Bob Taylor with Benchmark of Torrington, Jeffry Hawes with Eastern Wyoming College, Jackie Van Mark with Century 21 and Justin Burkart with Goshen County Commissioners.
“Kind of a dirty little mailer that went around that said we had about 22 employees, quite false, we have four,” Prusia said. “First, Moriah Harkins is our membership and marketing manager…Tammy Derr is our operations director…Leann Mattis is recently added to the team as our community development director and lastly, Brayden Connour, our chief executive officer…It’s gone really, really well; could not be happier with the way things are going under Brayden’s leadership.”
Trenda Weisshaar, CPA and accountant for Goshen Economic Development, presented a financial report on the standings of Goshen Economic Development.
“I’m going to give you some really good figures,” Weisshaar explained. “I’m going to give you some true and accurate details of where economic development is, where they spent their money this year, where we are at with the sales tax money we are entrusted with.”
Weisshaar explained some of the common issues with people trying to interpret Form 990 tax returns.
“One of the things people fail to look at, when they look at a 990 tax return, is there’s the income statement, the statement that shows you all of your expenses, but also another important piece is the balance sheet. When you buy a building, when you invest in a Cold Springs Business Park, when you invest in a building like this (21st and Main), those things don’t sit on your financial statement in the income statement, they sit on your balance sheet.”
During her presentation, she showed the current net assets of Goshen Economic Development to be $3,672,783, $46,530 greater than last year.
The sales tax revenue earned by the organization totaled $6,259,831 with $2,366,897 coming from matching grants. The total expended to date totaled $7,621,591 leaving a designated balance of $1,005,137.
“This year, we had a profit of $46,000. Last year, there was a loss of ($58,000), and the reason is because when they expanded Cold Springs Business Park, the intent was to sell that land improved to people who are willing to go out there…at a reasonable cost to get people to develop here in Torrington,” Weisshaar explained. “So, what happens is in the year the sale is made, the current year cost of the amount that would come off the balance sheet for that piece of property, that expense, is a current year expense of economic development. So, that doesn’t mean they lost $58,000 of cash. We actually improved cash last year and improved it again this year. That’s an operation expense and the board feels like when they sell a piece of land out at economic development, that loss that they incur is the cost of economic development.”
Weisshaar, along with several other board members, urged people with questions about Goshen Economic Development’s financials to contact them directly by visiting 21st and Main, their offices at 110 West 22nd Avenue in Torrington or by contacting any of the organization’s board members.
“I want to thank you for continuing to let us work for you and to be able to present this information,” Weisshaar said. “This is a great not-for-profit for our community, and so, I just wanted to thank you.”
Prusia returned to the mic to thank those in attendance for their support of economic development and to pass the gavel to the new president of the Goshen Economic Development, Jeff Jones.
“It’s been a privilege serving as president of this organization the past two years,” Prusia said. “It’s probably one of the most satisfying things I’ve had a chance to do, and I’ll still be on the board…it’s been awesome.”
Prusia expressed his pride in the accomplishments of Goshen Economic Development in the CTEC Building at the Eastern Wyoming College Campus, the Evergreen Plaza senior living project, the Lingle Community Center, the Fort Laramie Splash Pad, the LaGrange walking path, Yoder water projects and a new hotel. Prusia said economic development was crucial in acquiring grant funding and research for the projects.
“I look around at some of the other economic development groups, not just in Wyoming, but in the state of Nebraska, and I think what we do with our quarter-cent sales tax is definitely the envy of the state of Wyoming,” he said. “It’s given us the opportunity…that has prompted over a $1 million in private investment in businesses and through the progress program, if somebody is going to redo their façade, signage, whatever it might be, the progress program has been there to help those people, so it prompts them to expand their footprint and I think, in turn, it helps tremendously with our sales tax.”
Prusia pointed out sales tax through the time of the COVID pandemic had increased. He said he felt some of the online sales tax had helped, but “local businesses promoting themselves, working hard and getting people to come to Goshen County and pay taxes” was a large contribution to that period.
“We were extremely pleased to have the quarter-cent sales tax continued in the last election,” Prusia said. “We had some inaccurate information floating around out there, which obviously affected us a little bit, but I think through our efforts, we combated that, we put that to rest, and we have another four years. We have a lot of work to do.”
Prusia said the board is beginning to see some activity in the Cold Springs Business Park and the incubator at the Goshen Enterprise Center. He expressed he was optimistic with what he had seen developing in those areas.
“I think (the quarter-cent sales tax) has done absolutely tremendous things for this county,” Prusia said. “Hopefully, we can get that message out to the nay-sayers and let them know what we are doing down here.”
Following Prusia’s oration, incoming President Jeff Jones spoke on his vision of Goshen Economic Development.
Jones explained the amount of work and commitment to economic development one must have once they are on the executive board of Goshen Economic Development. He said each person on the executive board serves for eight years, two years as treasurer, two years as vice-president, two years as president and two years as past president.
“It’s a major commitment and you find yourself in meetings, we don’t know how many hours a month, but it’s a lot,” Jones said. “You would be a part-time employee anywhere else. Economic development does not have 22 or 26 employees, they have 23 board members who give incredible hours of their time every month to help support this organization and Goshen County.”
Jones told those attending, Goshen Economic Development’s primary goal is to support existing businesses.
“There are a lot of great things working right now that economic development has been doing,” Jones said. “Our number one goal is to support existing businesses. The thing we want to do is see existing businesses succeed, employ more people, make more money, get more sales tax to fund the city, towns and Goshen County and also economic development. We are only working to help the county, to help the city, to help everybody else. I’m looking forward to the next two years and four years.”
This year’s Goshen Economic Development awards were presented to:
Music on Main volunteers
Notable service awards
To learn more about Goshen Economic Development, visit their website, goshenwyo.com, or visit their offices at 21st and Main or 110 West 22nd Avenue.