(Riverton, WY) – Governor Mark Gordon, University of Wyoming President Ed Seidel, and Central Wyoming College President Brad Tyndall met for a luncheon today, Wednesday, June 9th, at the CWC Robert A. Peck Arts Center Gallery, to discuss the Wyoming Innovation Network (WIN).
Community leaders in attendance ranged from mayors, council members, Tribal Business Councils, to County Commissioners, local business owners, and future entrepreneurs.
WIN, proposed by Governor Gordon back in January, is a collaboration between the University of Wyoming and the state’s community colleges to develop innovative solutions that support and enhance Wyoming’s economy and workforce.
The WIN initiative will have the state’s higher education institutions collaborate and develop strategic programming in key areas focused on Wyoming’s needs.
It includes an emphasis on focusing workforce development on high-potential areas; supporting and training entrepreneurs and new business startups; a research and market analysis agenda aimed at technology transfer and commercialization; and developing outside revenue sources such as corporate partnerships to provide new opportunities for students.
“Given the challenges facing our state, I’m committed to ensuring that our higher education institutions work together more effectively,” Governor Gordon said.
“Together, we are going to develop and deploy innovative solutions that will provide more and better opportunities to our workers, giving them the tools to compete in a rapidly evolving workplace and helping to strengthen Wyoming’s economy.”
CWC President Dr. Brad Tyndall gave an in-depth presentation on everything WIN hopes to accomplish through the community college that aims to stimulate long-term economic development in Fremont County.
“What switches do we need to flip to see revolutionary growth in Wyoming?” Tyndall asked. “We need to create long-term job opportunities to not lose students to out of state colleges. The first step is creating healthy communities with vibrant economies,” stated Dr. Tyndall.
When County 10 asked him what businesses can do to ensure the succession of economic development to the next generation, Governor Gordon echoed the necessity of keeping skilled young workers in state.
“We’ve got to get all the parts working, and that means your Main Street has got to be vital, you’ve got to have good community services, good schools, good facilities, you have got to tune up all of that,” the Governor stated, referencing his earlier analogy about economic development being like a car that needs constant upkeep.
“It’s like my dad used to say; it’s not how much power you have, it’s about how well you know how to drive it, and Wyoming needs to learn how to drive this economic development.”
Dr. Tyndall then stressed the importance of adapting to technological growth through “up-teching via software engineering,” referencing a local rancher who showed him the amount of computer software needed to operate a piece of farm equipment.
Dr. Tyndall also cited collaborative business spaces and business incubators such as AtWork and Maker Space, as the types of models necessary that foster long-term partnerships capable of promoting regional growth.
Dr. Tyndall then discussed how these plans are currently being put into action with the many projects in development at CWC’s Rocky Mountain Complex, and its importance to the burgeoning meat industry.
According to Tyndall, people always ask what the next big export for the state is, but WIN aims to stress the need for in-state manufacturing and imports. “Meat could be a bigger job creator than coal or wind.”
University of Wyoming President and WIN committee chair Ed Seidel then took the stage to also discuss the importance of collaborative economic growth in the state.
“Wyoming’s institutions of higher education are excited to take our relationships to a higher level with a focus on helping propel the state’s economy,” Seidel says.
“Our discussions have identified some excellent opportunities for collaboration, and we’re committed to pursuing them for the benefit of our students and the people of Wyoming.”
“This is a county that has more promise than almost any other area. Is there any other better county to raise a family?” Governor Gordon stated. “Other than Johnson County,” he jokingly added, so as to not offend his home county.
County 10 then asked the Governor how the influx of out of state developers and entrepreneurs would affect the goals of WIN.
“We need to be able to attract people who are going to stay, build our communities, keep the people that we have first and foremost, and make sure that we have a vital economy,” Gordon replied.
“So I do think there are a lot of people that are moving out, migrating from New York and other states, going to the Western Republican states because they’re open. There will be some of those, but I want them to be participants in our economy, not just leeches.”