TORRINGTON – The ENDOW (Economically Needed Diversity Options for Wyoming) Executive Council submitted its first report to Governor Matt Mead and the Wyoming Legislature through the Joint Minerals, Business and Economic Development Interim Committee on Thursday, Aug. 31.
This initial report establishes a baseline for the preliminary recommendations due by Dec. 31, and sets the stage for the advancement of a 20-year economic diversification strategy for Wyoming. The Executive Council’s initial report includes sector-by-sector analyses that were evaluated and enhanced by industrial representatives and include national trends, peer state comparisons, workforce data, barriers, enablers and opportunities.
Goshen County resident Wally Wolski, who serves on the ENDOW Executive Council, reported on the meeting.
“Governor Mead shared his vision with the Executive Council members and encouraged us to be bold and think outside of the box,” Wolski said during a telephone interview following the meeting. “He stressed that Wyoming’s youth is our state’s greatest resource, while currently our state’s greatest export commodity. The Governor went on to challenge us to create opportunities for youth to work and raise a family here in Wyoming by empowering communities and engaging the private business sector to insure a long-term sustainable economic diversification strategy.”
Wolski offered this overview of the ENDOW project.
SF0132 – ENDOW Initiative – created and assigned powers and duties for a 20-year comprehensive and coordinated economic diversification strategy to: Expansion and diversification of Wyoming’s existing sectors; Stimulate new and emerging industries, and create private sector jobs; Encourage business development, entrepreneurship and innovation; Coordinate approach between legislative and executive branches of government; Allocate resources to promote diversification of Wyoming’s economy.
Governor Matt Mead appointed a 20-member citizen task force, designated the Executive Council, to act as a Board of Economic Diversification Advisors with supporting roles from the Wyoming Legislature, Wyoming Business Council, Wyoming Workforce Services, University of Wyoming, and Wyoming Community Colleges.
According to Wolski, the ENDOW statute mandated a preliminary report be delivered to the Joint Minerals, Business and Economic Development Interim Committee during their Aug. 31 meeting, which was held in Casper. It included: A snapshot of Wyoming’s socioeconomic and economic trends, and key enablers to growth in the state that translates to viable business development; An assessment of existing workforce strengths and deficiencies; and the identification of potential business development and innovation zones
The next ENDOW mandate is due by Dec. 31 for a report of findings, and proposed recommendations for delivery to the legislature. A final report regarding the submission of a strategy that contains explicit targets to guide the evolution of Wyoming’s economy in order to build a sustainable and diversified, value added economy by 2038, must be submitted by Aug. 1, 2018.
The Executive Council has met three separate times at different locations around the state since board members were initially appointed and two more additional meetings are scheduled prior to the end of the calendar year. All meetings are streamed live on [email protected]
Summary of the nine conclusions contained in the preliminary report: A need to do more to celebrate our success; Past economic development has not focused enough on innovation and entrepreneurship; A need to better understand the role of each sector in Wyoming’s economy; Wyoming’s communities need more development to foster long-term growth; Workforce is the single greatest inhibitor and opportunity for growth and stability; Educational readiness and educational achievement need improvement; Commercial air service is a significant limiting factor in expanding and diversifying Wyoming’s economy; A need to do more to improve internet accessibility; A better alignment of economic development efforts to produce greater impact and focus.
The following summary of assessments was contained in the preliminary report: State Agencies – review with the Wyoming Business Council, Community College Commission, University of Wyoming, the Department of Workforce Services, and other state agencies, enabling legislation, rules and regulations, policies, procedures or other governing mechanisms to determine amendments which would better align agency functions with economic diversification; Private Sector – engage the private sector in the same order to determine amendments without compromising Wyoming’s environmental and workplace standards
A summary of actions contained in the preliminary report:
Action Plan – Four-year action plans with performance benchmarks and the identification of policy recommendations and budget needs
Evaluate – Conduct studies to identify services, facilities, and amenities that are attractive to businesses and their employees seeking to relocate but which are substantially lacking or deficient in Wyoming and identify potential solutions to address those deficiencies to create working and community life climates attractive to a modern day workforce
Report – Develop a performance evaluation system, monitor progress and report to the Governor the status of programs and activities outlined as goals, objectives or action items in the state’s economic diversification strategy
Wolski said the Executive Council has identified four key areas where barriers currently exist which must be addressed before developing steps to diversify Wyoming’s economy over the long-term future. Four sub-committee groups have been formed to further evaluate and propose solutions for overcoming these obstacles. They are: Public Policy – entrepreneurship and access to capital; Quality of Life – healthcare and community amenities; Workforce Development – apprenticeship, internship, and mentorship; Infrastructure Development – internet accessibility and air service
He added that Wyoming’s existing sectors for expanding and diversifying – minerals, tourism, and agriculture, while stimulating new and emerging industries, must also be addressed.
For more information, go to https://www.endowyo.biz/.