Wyoming Business Council

Kamila Kudelska

This week, Cody residents participated in a community review. Within two days, more than 200 people gathered at different listening sessions to offer feedback about specific issues, including outdoor recreation, healthcare and local politics. At the listening sessions, the audience were asked three questions: what are the strengths, opportunities and aspirations for Cody.

Courtesy Wyoming Business Council

The Wyoming Council For Women announced the winner of its second annual Woman Entrepreneur Award.

Wyoming Business Council

A new publicly generated map hopes to provide better data on internet speed in the state. The Wyoming Business Council and the University of Wyoming GIS department partnered up to create a tool that is more detailed than the federal data collected in the state.

Kamila Kudelska

If you've never been to a Shopko, it's similar to a small Walmart. You can get groceries, apparel and lawn products all in one place. They're usually found in small towns.

Back in March, Shopko announced it will be closing all its locations, and it's a big deal for small towns. This is a big deal but towns throughout the Big Horn Basin are being proactive about the news.

Wyoming Business Council

The Wyoming Business Council is offering grants to communities to build vertical gardens.

ACPIC location just north of Gillette
The Advanced Carbon Collaborative Balanced Resources

The Advanced Carbon Products Innovation Center (ACPIC) was expected to finish construction north of Gillette at the Fort Union Industrial Complex by spring of 2019. Now, the coordinators of the project have requested a delay from the Wyoming Business Council.

Wikimedia Commons

The Wyoming Business Council has released a toolkit to help communities address housing needs in the state. The toolkit shows what types of housing communities should be investing in, in terms of variables like size and affordability.

There will soon be a Wyoming Pacific Asia office based in Taiwan. The Wyoming Business Council (WBC) has entered into a 22-month contract with a Taiwanese representative to help create business relationships between the state and country.

F.E. Warren Air Force Base

A large federal investment is coming to Wyoming as Congress is investing $90 billion in modernizing Intercontinental Ballistic Missile weapon systems (ICBMs). ICBMs are stored at three locations across the United States, including F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne.

USGS via TopoQuest

A foreign trade zone, or FTZ, near the Casper International Airport will be expanded to cover most of Natrona County.

https://broadbandmap.fcc.gov/

The Wyoming Broadband Advisory Council meets for the first time next week. The Wyoming Legislature created the council during the 2018 session as a part of an effort to increase access to high-speed internet in unserved areas of the state.

WyoTech

Wyoming Governor Matt Mead has agreed to provide a $5 million loan to a private group to keep Laramie’s WyoTech open. The previous owners had planned to close the automotive college. During the 2018 budget session the state legislature supported efforts to keep the school open.

Environmental Protection Agency
Environmental Protection Agency

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is helping Wyoming clean up contaminated areas for future redevelopment. Three state and local organizations will split $1.4 million. Wyoming is among 144 grantees in the competitive national process. The EPA gave out over $54 million in total.

The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality, the City of Douglas, and the Wyoming Business Council will receive the funds. The DEQ and the Business Council are partnering to combine their grants and create a revolving loan for clean-up available to any Wyoming community. 

Bob Beck

Several years ago Cheyenne residents Bob and Jill Jensen went looking for a service dog to assist Jill with her multiple sclerosis. Their search took them to Kansas City where they acquired their animal. The couple then wondered about developing a training facility for various types of service dogs in Cheyenne, which is unique in this region. The project that Bob and Jill Jensen developed is called K9s 4 Mobility.

Wikimedia Commons

Each year, Wyoming is given Federal Housing and Urban Development funds to pay for various services and infrastructure improvements across the state. The Wyoming Business Council is surveying the public to help decide how to spend $3 million over the next five years.

Federal Housing and Urban Development dollars can be used towards building affordable housing, fixing streets and sewers, as well as public services like childcare, transportation, and mental health. 

publicdomainpictures.net

In Wyoming’s coal-rich Powder River Basin, the city of Sheridan is exploring how renewable sources of energy might fit into its future. The local government applied for a $44,000 research grant that the Wyoming Business Council approved earlier this month.

Now their proposal will go before the governor’s State Land and Investment Board for final approval. The town’s leaders have been looking into wind, solar, and hydropower development since the 1990s, and a recent economic study found that a lack of renewable development in Sheridan could be a deal-breaker for tech companies.

http://maxpixel.freegreatpicture.com/Cycle-Path-Road-Gauge-Away-Bike-Bicycle-Path-Tar-228126

Last year, the Wyoming legislature created a task force to make the state’s communities more attractive to bicyclists and pedestrians. That group will host a phone meeting Monday morning to discuss the value of these modes of transportation, as well as the projects and policy changes that would make them more workable.

Task Force Chairman Tim Young says it’s all part of a report they’ll submit to the legislature in October.

WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Wyoming communities are encouraging holiday shoppers to forego Black Friday and visit their local downtowns on Small Business Saturday instead. American Express initiated Small Business Saturday seven years ago to promote shopping locally during the holiday season rather than buying gifts online. Wyoming Business Council member Tom Dixon said small businesses are part of what makes Wyoming special.

Bob Beck

Bob Jensen has spent most of his time in Wyoming thinking about improving the economy. For ten years he led the Wyoming Business Council, the state’s economic development arm. Several months ago during a meeting of some Cheyenne entrepreneurs the idea of developing a coding school was pitched. And that discussion led to the development of Array, School of Technology and Design in downtown Cheyenne.

“It is a grassroots effort to try and effect workforce quickly for a growing tech industry in Wyoming,” said Jensen.

Dan Brecht

Wyoming farmer’s markets aren’t just good for community spirit--they’re also making the state money. That’s according to a new survey by the Wyoming Business Council. 

Agribusiness Manager Cindy Garretson-Weibel says the number of farmers markets has been increasing for several years with 49 now in Wyoming. Weibel says some of them are held twice a week, adding up to significant income.

Melodie Edwards

Last week, Sheridan County commissioners approved an amendment to planning and zoning rules that will give local farmers an edge on more direct sales to their customers. It will now be easier for them to put up farm stands and greenhouses on their property, as well as sell jams, salsas and other products made from their produce. Such activities either weren't allowed or required special permits in the past. Director Bill Benzel with Powder River Resource Council worked on the amendment.

Jasperdo via Flickr Creative Commons

Green River will return $1 million it got from the state to renovate its historic Union Pacific train depot.

The community received a $1 million grant through the Wyoming Business Council, but those funds were contingent upon the city raising the other $2 million needed to complete the project.

The Business Council denied a two-year extension to come up with the funds. Green River City Councilwoman Lisa Mays says they had little choice but to give the money back.

Energy Information Administration

According to a recent analysis by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, mining occupied approximately 35 percent of Wyoming’s GDP in 2013, up from around 29 percent in 2003. That makes Wyoming the most mining-dependent state in the country.

The increase comes despite calls from the Wyoming Business Council to diversify the state’s industries.

Wyoming Principal Economist Jim Robinson said that after concentrating on energy for so long, growth in areas outside energy is slow.

Jeremy Buckingham via Flickr

A Wyoming program that incentivizes businesses’ use of green energy has won a national innovation award.

The Wyoming Renewable Energy Credit program was named the 2014 Economic Development Award Recipient by Business Facilities Magazine, a national publication on business expansion.

The initiative is a partnership between the Powder River Energy Corporation and the Wyoming Business Council. It offers a discount on energy costs for Wyoming businesses interested in using green power.

Smaller Wyoming communities considering public transportation programs can get help from the Business Council starting in July.

While federal funds exist to support transportation programs, many towns and cities need help financing the pre-planning. Energy efficiency program manager Sherry Hughes says that there’s where these grants come in.

Wyoming Business Council has hired Shawn Reese to take over as its CEO this month.  Reese replaces Bob Jensen who stepped down in March.  Reese worked for the business council for many years and recently has worked for Governor Matt Mead.  He tells Bob Beck that the state is making headway on diversifying the economy.

Wyoming Business Council CEO Bob Jensen is resigning.  Jensen has led the Business Council for over a decade and oversaw projects like the expansion of the rail industry in Evanston, expansion of data centers in the state, and growth of the manufacturing sector in Gillette. Governor Matt Mead has thanked Jensen for his service. Jensen will step down at the end of March to spend more time with his wife, who has multiple sclerosis.

The Wyoming Business Council Board of Directors has unanimously approved $13 million in state grants and loans to help one of the country's largest producers of ammunition magazines for guns relocate to the state.
 
     Erie, Colo.-based Magpul Industries is planning to move its production, distribution and shipping operations to Cheyenne. The company vowed to leave Colorado after that state enacted gun control laws last year.
 

Last year, 13 companies received grants from a Wyoming initiative which they then used to apply for larger, federal grants. The Wyoming Small Business Innovation Research and Technology Transfer Program was established to help small businesses in the state get more federal grants that could be beneficial to their businesses. Each award is for up to $5,000 and can be used for any purpose that would improve a federal grant proposal.

Wyoming is aggressively working to attract data centers to the state.  The industry magazine Expansion Solutions recently recognized the Cowboy State’s efforts to accommodate companies looking to build or expand their computing operations.

Wyoming Business Council CEO Bob Jensen says his organization targets trade shows, real estate directors and data management industry publications to promote Wyoming’s offerings, including a cool climate, cheap power, and lots of space to build.

Jensen says Wyoming has a lot of competition to attract these businesses.

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