Spotlight on local businesses during Economic Development Week

GOSHEN COUNTY – It was a whirl-wind tour of the county last week, as the Goshen County Economic Development Corp. celebrated Economic Development Week.

The festivities started in Goshen County town of LaGrange. With her associates Ashley Harpstreith began the week highlighting how the Economic Development Corporation helped local business to get started or upgraded their business.

In LaGrange they spoke with Robert J. Van Risseghem who formed Naturally Noble to provide mineral-based bio-food supplement. Bob’s ability to turn metals into bioavailable minerals was the start of his business in the Heavens Hope Nutritional.

Harpstreith also talked with Lisa Johnson and Frontier Bible School about the need for the Goshen County Economic Development helping with infrastructure projects and building businesses.

Each town has a unique development strategy for growth and to fix the problems of their towns, to bring in dollars for business and to make it possible to do this year-round.

On Tuesday the Economic Development team traveled to Yoder where they heard from Goshen County Commissioner Wally Wolski , Bob Dietzier of Wyoming Connect Railroad, John Hansen from Eastern Wyoming College and Mayor Norman Seagler.

Commissioner Wolski spoke about leadership as part of Governor Matt Meads’ Executive Council. Of top important to Goshen County are five economic sectors: Advanced Manufacturing, Value Added Natural Resources, Outdoor Recreation and Tourism, Knowledge and Creativity, Sustainable Harvest (Agriculture-Ag Sector) with a 20-year strategy for each section. 

Commissioner Wolski said Goshen County is the leading county in the state for agriculture production. The agriculture sector is broken into two completely different sections ranching and farming. 

The farmers are growing “Hay, sugar beets, small grains, beans, corn and in the future maybe hemp.” Wolski said. “And the ranchers have the livestock,”

Examining the agriculture sector, the committee is not going to execute a proposal right away but want to look at our options to implementing portions that will stabilize and create growth in the Sustainable Harvest section, Wolski said. What the committee is looking at is to maximize the production over the next 30 years.

The Economic Development on Wednesday moved on to the town of Lingle.

Wednesday, May 9, GCEDC stopped by Lingle Town Hall for a live radio remote with KGOS/KERM, Lingle town officials, business owners and community members. The program “highlighted infrastructure improvements in Lingle, partnerships in workforce development, initiatives and our entrepreneurs on Lingle Main Street,” according to the GCEDC Facebook page. 

“We had a great time with Mayor George Siglin, Lingle Town Council (member) Paula Newcomb, Lingle Town Clerk(-Treasurer) Michele Sussex, Pinnacle Bank/EWC Foundation President Todd Peterson, UW SAREC’s John Tanaka, (Ellis) Harvest Home’s Dan Ellis, Roger Humphrey – EWC’s Dean of Students, (and) Carolyn Lewis, (owner of) Whimsy,” GCEDC representatives said on social media.

Fort Laramie was the next stop on Thursday, meeting with Mayor William Baker, Thomas Baker, Superintendent of the Fort Laramie Historic Site, Workforce Manager Gilbert Servantez and Kimberly Craft, Clerk/Treasurer for the town of Ft Laramie. 

Servantez discussed the new process for training and sector partnership with Next Gen, working leaders from the communities within Platt, Goshen and Niobrara counties. 

The goal is to partner with industry, economic development and workforce development, education and other community leaders. Sitting down with current local business to come up with new ideas for training and moving forward in this direction. 

Next Gen will not only be in these three counties, but implemented throughout the state of Wyoming, for every county to move forward with this new workforce training. 

On May 30, a two-day training session will be held for the trainers in Lander. The training will focus on the healthcare industry, which will help with the healthcare shortage in the community. The training will encourage upward mobility, making it possible to start at an entry level position and moving up to the next level. 

Servantez said there are job openings in the community today. Approximately 40 to 45 jobs need to be filled in the Ag sector, drivers, hospitality and construction. Stop in the workforce center for more information.

GCEDC talks with many different people to keep a clear reading on the communities it serves. In Torrington on the last day of Economic Development Week the guests represented city government, the banking industry, training and hospitality industry. 

Like that of all the towns in Goshen County, the need in Torrington centers on bringing in business and creating a stable economic platform. 

In Torrington, two of the Economic Development Board members closed the week. Chairman of the Board Bob Taylor and board member Scott Prusia explain who and what Economic Development does for the community. 

“There have been a lot of changes, it is just amazing” Taylor said. “Honestly the biggest reason for the biggest part of the changes is the quarter cent sales tax. 

“It has changed our organization 180 degrees,” he said. “We suffered, we struggled – it was real tough for the first 10 to 15 years that I was on this board.”  

Money was tight and it was hard to pay the staff. The tax has allowed for more projects to be completed, Taylor said. The tax has also made it possible to qualify for matching funds which benefits everyone in the county. 

The focus of the GCEDC has changed to business retention and expansion, but the interest of bringing in new industry that will benefit the county is still an important consideration.

GCEDC also offers business help with growth and expansion. The quarter cent sales tax has helped put $660,000 back into the community and has assisted 168 businesses, nonprofits, municipalities and organizations, Harpstreith said. The GCEDC can also assist with three additional funds open to the public: Capitol matching funds for business, community enhancement for nonprofits and organizations that help with beautification or special events, and the infrastructure fund for municipalities. 

Board member Prusia said: “There will be three large project going on which would not have happened in Torrington over the next few years if it were not for the (GCEDC): A new cobblestone hotel, the new ATEC building (at Eastern Wyoming College), which the GCEDC was responsible for getting a $1.5 million grant and the Assisted Living.”

Reporter Crystal R. Albers contributed to this story.

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