Big Horn County communities have been responding favorably to a request from Gov. Matt Mead’s office to participate in a “best practices” study on how public and private economic development is conducted in Wyoming.
The Tour 23 initiative is being promoted by Mead, Wyoming Business Council CEO Shawn Reese and Wyoming Business Alliance President Bill Schilling and will “begin conversations” in all 23 Wyoming counties this spring, according to a letter of invitation sent to potential participants.
Big Horn County Tour 23 Coordinator Sue Taylor, director of Grow Big Horn County economic development, said the goal of the initiative is to have a table of 23 primary stakeholders at each county meeting including elected officials and business leaders. Other citizens, officials and leaders are also welcome to attend, as well.
“The Governor’s Office, Business Alliance and Business Council want to gather input about where we’re going from an economic standpoint beyond Wyoming’s boom and bust cycle,” Taylor said, “and gather information to continue to be forward thinking.
“It’s our opportunity to gather those key people and people with interest and offer up possibilities for the economic future in Big Horn County.”
The letter of invitation from Gov. Mead, Schilling and Reese said the initiative is designed to be an open forum involving conversations that will culminate in a report on public and private economic activities and best practices across the state. The report will be featured at the Governor’s Economic Forum in November.
The letter tells stakeholders that they “have the collective experience and wisdom needed to make a difference and adds, “You know what works and what does not. Your commitment contributes to a prosperous Wyoming now and for the next 125 years.”
Notes a project summary developed by Wyoming Business Alliance Vice President of Membership and Marketing Fred Catchpole, “The purpose of Tour 23 is to reaffirm community vitality, discuss and identify local interests and brainstorm five-year goals and possibilities. This is meant to be a forward thinking, dynamic and interactive process.”
Taylor said a request went out to each county for a minimum of 10 people to participate, and Taylor presented the program to Big Horn County’s mayors at the Feb. 19 mayors’ meeting in Byron.
Grow Big Horn County and the three county chambers of commerce compiled a list of possible participants by early March so the Governor’s invitation could be issued.
“We made the request of each municipality to provide up to five names and no fewer than three names for each community they felt would represent their community well in the process,” she said, noting that the Governor’s Office then sent out official invitations to the list submitted by the towns.
The initial Big Horn County Tour 23 will be held Friday, April 24, from 7:30 a.m. to noon at the Historic Hotel Greybull in downtown Greybull.
“We are planning for 40 to attend,” Taylor said. “Anybody who attends will be heard and will be able to offer input.”
Those who have committed to attending from North Big Horn County so far include Taylor, Frannie mayor Vance Peregoy, Rep. Elaine Harvey, Sen. Ray Peterson, Lovell Area Chamber Office Manager Jackie Heinert, Lovell town councilman Bruce Wolsey and former commissioner Keith Grant.
Committing from South Big Horn County so far are county commissioner Jerry Ewen, Greybull mayor Myles Foley, Barbara Anne Greene, John Koller, John Coyne, Rick Magstadt, Carolyn Walton and John Kelly.
Taylor expects some more RSVPs in the next few days.
Big Horn County is well positioned to participate in the initiative with the work that the county commissioners and Grow Big Horn County have already done, Taylor said.
“When I received the initial call to be the county coordinator, Fred Catchpole (of the Wyoming Business Alliance) was impressed with our county-wide strategic plan and indicated that Grow Big Horn County is a ahead of the curve by having a recently completed plan for economic development,” Taylor said. “We have very recent data and input regarding economic growth, and we are a step ahead of nearly every county in Wyoming.”
For questions or to RSVP regarding the invitation, call Taylor at 548-6707.