TORRINGTON – After four years at the helm of the Goshen County Economic Development Corporation and a long list of triumphs, Chief Executive Officer Ashley Harpstreith will be stepping down from her post on July 1.
Harpstreith and her family will be moving to Cheyenne for family reasons, and while she doesn’t know what the next step in her career will be, her goal is to find a place where she can make an impact like she has in Goshen County.
“My biggest goal for my next job is to be as passionate as I am about this one,” she said. “Community development, business development, fundraising, grant writing, association work, state-level work – those are the realms I’m looking in. I hope it is somewhat tied into the economic development field.”
The GCEDC – and the next CEO – will have the benefit of having Harpstreith until the end of the summer.
“I’m probably going to help out the organization on a couple of projects and finish out the summer,” she said. “We’ve got a lot of irons in the fire. I don’t really have big plans to look for a job in Cheyenne until the fall.”
Harpstreith said there is a long list of projects she has worked on with GCEDC that she is proud to have been a part of. Chief amongst those was working to renew the quarter-cent sales tax and setting up a strong foundation in the GCEDC office.
“We moved the needle on votes for that,” she said. “We were over 70 percent, which is awesome. My staff, I’m extremely proud of them. I hired everyone in this building. I’m leaving behind a legacy with the people that are here. It’s turnkey ready for whoever the next director is.”
In addition, Harpstreith’s GCEDC was instrumental in the construction of the Cobblestone Motel and improvements to the county’s infrastructure.
“We have a lot of things in the works for infrastructure development with natural gas and broadband,” she said. “That’s one I’m going to be working on through the end of the summer, especially for broadband. That’s been my No. 1 charge, getting that dialed in before I left.”
One of her biggest accomplishments, she said, is building a bridge between the five Goshen County population centers – Torrington, Lingle, Fort Laramie, Yoder and LaGrange – and helping them work together as communities.
“I think the relationships we’ve built with a lot of the communities is great,” she said. “We’ve got the Main Street program, and all five communities show up to all of the Main Street meetings and we’re working on similar events in all five communities. We’re all working in the same direction.
“All of the elected officials in all of the municipalities, we’re all idea sharing. We really are the envy of a lot of communities because of how well we work together.”
Harpstreith also cites a successful rebranding the GCEDC, as well as bringing the GCEDC, Chamber of Commerce and Welcome Center under the same banner. The GCEDC has worked with 108 potential businesses, helped open 26 new businesses and hosted 31 ribbon-cuttings – and that’s something Harpstreith says makes her proud.
“I think our business retention and expansion numbers say a lot,” she said. “We’re all about growing our own.”