SLIB approves planning grant for strategic plan

By David Peck

The Wyoming State Loan and Investment Board last week approved a $37,500 planning grant for Big Horn County’s proposed Countywide Strategic Plan for Economic Development.

Lovell Inc. Director Sue Taylor attended the SLIB meeting at the Herschler Building in Cheyenne Thursday morning. The Wyoming Business Council had previously approved the grant, and it was on the consent list, Taylor said. SLIB approved the grant unanimously with Gov. Matt Mead absent and Secretary of State Max Maxfield presiding.

The planning grant includes a 25 percent cash match of $12,500 for a total strategic plan budget of $50,000. The towns of Lovell, Greybull and Basin are providing matching money based on $1.25 per resident to the tune of $2,906 from Lovell, $2,218 from Greybull and $1613 from Basin, with the balance of the match — $5,763 – coming from Big Horn County minus whatever future matching amounts the other communities come up with, also based on $1.25 per resident. Taylor said a number of the six other municipalities in the county have verbally agreed to the match.

Though Taylor wrote the grant, she pointed out that Big Horn County is the sponsor of the grant and that the money will not go to Lovell Inc. It will go to a consultant who will develop the strategic plan.

Taylor said a request for qualifications will be issued in May, and she is busy drafting that RFQ, working with Big Horn County and the nine incorporated municipalities. The next step would be the formation an advisory committee from the towns and the county, and the committee will select the consultant for the strategic plan, probably in late June.

In July the committee would meet with the consultant to agree upon the key components of the strategic plan and the expected outcomes. Public participation is scheduled to begin in September.

Taylor said the source of the planning grant is the Business Ready Community Program and represents a new grant category for SLIB.

The strategic plan

Taylor said the strategic plan is designed to help all Big Horn County communities with their economic development efforts.

“The plan will address what our strengths are as a county by looking at the building blocks of economic development so we will have a realistic plan for retention, expansion and recruitment,” she said.

The public will be heavily involved in the planning process, which will include three measurable goals:

• The participation of all nine incorporated municipalities;

• Two hundred individual citizens participating in the planning process;

• Forty current business owners participating in the process.

The main indicator of success for the strategic plan is to be able to name a minimum of three projects identified in the final plan that can begin to be implemented within six months whether it be the expansion of an existing business or further development of a current segment of industry.

Taylor said the consultant will review all existing county and municipal documents and work out a cohesive plan to meet the needs of the entire county.

“It’s not another master plan or a land use plan,” she said. “It’s a plan specific to economic development.”