Economic development tops priority list

by nathan oster

A group of Greybull community leaders on Thursday identified projects geared toward economic development, the expansion of the local housing market and the promotion of tourism and recreation as the top priorities for the immediate future.

The discussion took place during a two-hour, follow-up meeting with Kim Porter, a program manager for the Wyoming Rural Development Council and the leader of the resource team that visited Greybull in September to conduct the community assessment.

The assessment occurred over a three-day period. More than 100 people attended the 14 listening sessions.  The resource team also collected 339 comments from the schools and online comments from another 45 people.

The assessment focused on three questions:

1)     What do you think are the major problems and challenges in Greybull?

2)     What do you think are the major strengths and assets in Greybull?

3)     What projects would you like to see completed in two, five, 10 and 20 years in Greybull?

Kim Porter, the team leader, provided the approximately 25 attendees on Wednesday night with an overview of the main themes recorded by the resource team.

They were broken down as follows for the group:

• Economic Development, including jobs, underutilized assets such as the industrial park, airport and railroad, downtown revitalization, business recruitment and retention, housing (rentals, affordable, condition, assisted living, and tourism;

• Community Facilities, including pool, museum(s), multi-use community center (recreation, fitness, meeting/conference space;

• People, including improved communication, need for volunteers, teamwork, proactive vs. reactive, diversity and community-oriented policing;

• Youth, including bullying, drugs and alcohol, lack of activities, and retention;

• Promotion, in terms of getting people to stop and stay, including town entrance signage, beautification, marketing and community events.

Off of that list, the group that assembled on Wednesday night was split into five smaller groups and asked to narrow the focus by choosing their three top priorities.   By the end of the discussion, Porter had grouped them into three primary areas.

Economic development topped everyone’s list, as attendees agreed that the most important short-term goal should be finishing the cleanup of the industrial park, maximizing the potential of the call center building, recruiting new businesses, retaining existing businesses and further developing of the workforce.

Under housing, the group called for an emphasis on improving housing options locally, including the need for more quality rentals, additional assisted living units and housing that is of generally better quality and more affordable.

The tourism and recreation component was identified as the third priority It encompassed, on the tourism side, an aviation or natural history/geoscience museum of some kind, and on the recreation side, the need for a swimming pool/splash pad, support for efforts to open The Shack and Antelope Butte Ski Area and the development of new amenities in the park.

Porter ended the meeting by telling the group that she’d be incorporating all the input received into a matrix for the mayor and the town’s administrator/finance director.