Economic development commission develops strategic plan

By Kayne Pyatt, Herald Reporter
Posted 4/10/24

EVANSTON — During the two separate meetings of the Uinta County Economic Development Commission (UCEDC) in February and March, a strategic plan for 2024 was developed with the leadership of …

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Economic development commission develops strategic plan


EVANSTON — During the two separate meetings of the Uinta County Economic Development Commission (UCEDC) in February and March, a strategic plan for 2024 was developed with the leadership of Kiley Ingersoll, regional director for the Wyoming Business Council. The commission needed to identify specific goals and create action steps to achieve them.

Ingersoll began the meeting on Feb. 28 by asking the members of the commission and guests in attendance to list the goals they had achieved in 2023. Responses from commission members included: money the commission had invested and was receiving interest on, work on possible uses for the 1,000 acres the county owns, conversations with Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT) concerning the use of the 1,000 acres, and the commission’s contribution to the Jumpstart Evanston program.

Other responses covered the many discussions held on the penny tax initiative, the market study that had been done, the 1,000 acres, the bid for the shooting complex, and the movement to save the historic Wyoming State Hospital buildings (WSH).

“Now, I want each of you to write down a goal on each of the three pieces of paper I’m handing you,” Ingersoll said. “The three goals should be something you want to see the commission work on this year.”

When everyone completed the task, Ingersoll collected them and pinned them up on a large board so all could see them. Together, after lots of discussion and thought, they organized the goals into four main categories: workforce development; promoting development; revenue and sustainable funding; and quality of life.

Ingersoll asked the group to list what “givens” would show victory/achievement of the goals. The list generated by the group included: development of private and public partnerships; a facility to train students; employers and industry leaders becoming active in UCEDC and in the community; the penny tax on the ballot; an increased number of businesses in the county and expansion of local businesses; a continuation of the Jumpstart program and a vibrant business incubator.

“Now, let’s list what strengths would come from the achievement of the goals, what weaknesses there would be, the benefits of achieving the goals and the dangers involved,” Ingersoll said.

Diversification, passion and influence were the strengths identified by the group. The weaknesses identified were that government moves slowly, regulations hold things up, public perception is not always positive and a lack of resources.

Benefits of achieving the goals would be community growth, an economy that keeps people living here and an increase in median household income level.

The group listed a lack of enough community services, an increase in cost of living and potential conflicts due to diversification as dangers to achieving the goals.

“Before we meet again in March, I want you each to review the goals which I will email to you and be thinking about action steps for each goal,” Ingersoll said.

The second meeting, on March 27, took place in the Lyman Town Hall. At this meeting, Ingersoll divided the group attending into four groups to work on the four main categories of goals. Each group was given one of the goals and instructed to brainstorm action steps for achievement of that goal.

Each group found a private space within the town hall to work on their assignment and after approximately an hour, Ingersoll brought the groups back together to review their findings. Each of the groups listed many action steps but chose key ones to begin to work on immediately.

The group that was assigned the goal of “Workforce Development” generated 13 action steps to be implemented this year. The first action was to set up a meeting with business leaders in May. On-going activities would be to provide career opportunities through education/training paths and gain industry support of workforce development programs. Victory for that group would be an active next-gen group led by business leaders in May. They would also ask the county commissioners for a budget of $5,000.

The “Promote Development” group listed an overarching goal of applying for grants for water tanks in the Valley from the Industrial Siting Fund and identifying land within the city and county that can be procured to offer to developers. By the end of April, they would apply for grants and reach out to multiple small developers to build 20 plus new homes in 2024.

Members in the “Revenue and Sustainable Funding” group identified specific action steps: draft contract for services on behalf of UCEDC for municipalities and county and present the half-cent tax resolution to municipalities to get on the ballot to have a new revenue source by the end of 2024.

The “Quality of Life” group identified available housing for all (workforce, seniors and low-income) as the main need to have a quality of life. Their action steps were to attend county and city meetings and have information available to developers on development standards and funding. They decided to develop a one-sheet contact and resource page to give to developers and estimated a need for $1,500 to make 1,500 copies.

It was determined that each member of UCEDC and the others involved in the strategic planning needed to commit to giving time, resources when available and communication for the plan to have success. Ingersoll appointed a point-of-contact leader for each team, who will report on the group’s activities and progress at each UCEDC meeting.

Eric Wyatt is the point of contact for the revenue and sustainable funding group; Kelly Bonner for the quality-of-life group; Clyde Kofoed for workforce development; and Bryan Ayres for the promote development group.

UCEDC chair Dan Wheeler thanked Ingersoll for her time and expertise.

“If we follow through with this it will be great,” he said. “This has been most helpful and has helped us define our direction. We need to make sure the whole county is involved. I look forward to seeing the ideas we’ve generated come to fruition.”

Rep. Jon Conrad gave a brief report on the status of the county’s bid for the shooting complex.  He said there are nine counties now in the running for it but he thinks Uinta County has a good chance because they own the land and the big challenge for some is they don’t own the land.  He said Uinta County is the only county that is shovel ready.

Evanston Community Development Director Rocco O’Neill reported on the progress of getting a half-cent tax initiative on the ballot this election year. He said the county commission had already approved a resolution for it and he would be meeting with the Evanston City Council, along with the Mountain View and Lyman town councils.

At the meeting on Feb. 28, an election of officers for UCEDC took place and Dan Wheeler was reelected as chair, Eric Wyatt as vice-chair, and Ben Bell reelected as secretary/treasurer. Jesse Lind’s term on the commission ended and he did not reapply. Eric Quinney was appointed to serve as a representative from Lyman.

At that same meeting, the commission approved writing a letter of support for the town of Mountain View on their submittal of a Business Ready Community Planning Grant application for economic development to the Wyoming Business Council. The town of Mountain View intends to develop a comprehensive master plan.