McCormick held up her buckle won at the Wyoming State Fair this past August at the conclusion of her “Go For The Buckle” keynote address. (Ernie Over photo) 

(Lander, Wyo.) – The keynote speaker at Friday’s Lander Area Chamber of Commerce Awards Luncheon said the Lander community knows how to “Go For The Buckle.”

Paula McCormick, owner of McCormick Marketing, used the buckle theme throughout her presentation, noting that Lander has gone for, and succeeded, in “pulling itself up by the bootstraps” on numerous occasions, especially in economic development and tourism.

lander-chamber-logoFrom being a one horse town in the 1980s, Lander is now very diversified and the community  knows how to use the building blocks of economic development, she said in remarks to a full house at the Inn At Lander’s Wind River Rooms.  ”Lander was forced to diversify,” she said, “after the closure of the U. S. Steel Atlantic City Iron Ore Mine (and the closure of the uranium mines in the Gas Hills) in the 1980s. In the last 25 years, I’ve seen the community pull itself up by the bootstraps by voting in taxes to improve the community,” she said, “downtown businesses formed a special improvement district and taxed themselves during the Main Street Reconstruction to make sure that we’d have a lovely Main Street into the future.”

McCormick said that effort resulted in Lander being named “One of the Top Five Small Towns in America” which she said is still true today. “The Tiger Business Park (on West Main) is another example.” McCormick noted that local businesses took the opportunity to expand their operations and bring in new businesses in the business park, located at the former site of the high school on West Main.

She said the Fremont County Community banded together and passed the lodging tax, which most recently generated $140-million in traveler spending in the county. “And the county voted to improve our streets and infrastructure with the optional one cent tax.” She said the Lodging Tax is up for renewal in the next election.

McCormick said the community response to helping rebuild the Lander Community Center has been remarkable, and she acknowledged the Lander Area Chamber of Commerce for its $50,000 pledge to the project.

The community still has challenges, she said. “we need to solve the commercial air service problem, tackle the rodeo ground relocation and improve (Hunt Field) airport as well as closer relationship with the Tribes of the Wind River Reservation.”

The annual awards banquet was sponsored by Rocky  Mountain Power, McKee, Marburger and Fagnant, P.C., First Interstate Bank and County10.cm.