Gov. Matt Mead likes to joke the two historical certainties in every Wyoming governor’s annual State of the State speech are the phrases “good morning” and “economic diversity.”
The methods of breaking Wyoming’s dependence on natural resource extraction have varied in the last half century, he explained, but each plan had a key flaw.
“We continue to look in four- or eight-year cycles,” Mead said during a recent meeting of the Wyoming Business Council Board of Directors. “Well, we aren’t going to get there in four years or eight years. We need a long-range plan. That’s where ENDOW comes in.”
ENDOW, or Economically Needed Diversity Options for Wyoming, is a 20-year strategic plan to bolster the Cowboy State’s economy and provide a cushion against the inevitable ebbs and flows of the energy markets.
The governor proposed $2.5 million in his supplemental budget request to fund the initiative.
ENDOW aims to coordinate and expand ongoing economic development efforts across the state.
“We need immediate and measurable results now,” Mead said. “We need to build on recent success in establishing technology as a fourth leg of Wyoming’s economic strength. We need to build on the efforts to add value to coal, minerals and natural resources. We need to build on our success in a growing manufacturing industry.”
Governor Mead cited several decades of economic studies and plans – some dating to the period when his grandfather, Cliff Hansen, was Wyoming’s governor. Many of these reports recommended addressing issues still pressing in 2017.
“For decades we have wanted to grow opportunities that keep our young people in Wyoming,” Mead said. “We have known for more than 50 years that it is important to add value to our natural resources, to improve air service and to expand research.”
Governor Mead and Greg Hill will co-chair an executive steering committee to establish a vision and action plan. Hill is a senior executive with the Hess Corporation and a Business Council board member. As a graduate of the University of Wyoming’s College of Engineering, he has been active in multiple efforts to improve programs at UW and across the state.
The effort will include multiple state agencies, the Wyoming Business Council, the University of Wyoming, the state’s community colleges and other economic development partners.
Jerimiah Rieman of Governor Mead’s staff will serve as the coordinator of the ENDOW initiative.
ENDOW will include current economic development efforts, including research into the creation of one or more industrial parks in Wyoming.