Glenrock Reclamation

Gov. Matt Mead looks out the window of Glenrock Coal Company’s former office after a press conference in July in Glenrock.

File, Star-Tribune

Gov. Matt Mead and other Wyoming political leaders said Tuesday they believe the state’s latest effort to diversify its economy, known as ENDOW, would be successful.

Mead, Senate President Eli Bebout, House Speaker Steve Harshman and ENDOW co-chair Greg Hill spoke after the group’s advisory council held a day-long workshop in Jackson.

While diversification has long been a stated goal of Wyoming’s elected officials, Mead said that he has heard several new ideas since he created ENDOW last year.

One of those ideas was starting a pre-approval process for industrial parks that could house facilities like power plants. While the state has long worked on receiving pre-approval from the federal government for pipelines, Mead said that streamlining could apply to more sectors.

Another was simply the need to promote Wyoming as a place to do business.

“We really are a great place to do business, but a lot of people outside just look at us as a place for fun,” Mead said. “How do we let the outside world know?”

Bebout, who has served in the Legislature for decades, said that ENDOW strikes him as more promising than previous efforts to diversity Wyoming’s economy not so much because it is raising different issues as because of the people involved.

“What was lacking then — and I really don’t see that now — was a commitment,” Bebout said. “They really believe in Wyoming.”

ENDOW, which stands for Economically Needed Diversity Options for Wyoming, was funded with $2.5 million and a mandate to develop a comprehensive plan for diversifying the state’s economy. Ideas mentioned at the press conference included improving transportation and water infrastructure, leveraging the state’s broadband connection and ensuring that any improvements seen in added-value efforts in the energy industry carry over to the higher education system.

Harshman echoed Bebout’s enthusiasm. He said that ENDOW could harness the attractive draws that Wyoming already has and convert that into economic growth.

“Capitalism and opportunity and freedom and just this whole ‘anything is possible’,” Harshman said. “That’s really ‘Why Wyoming.’”

Harshman said it was not clear exactly what ENDOW would result in but that it was bound to pay dividends for the state.

“We’re not just going to wait and print one more sticker: ‘Lord, give us one more boom and I promise not to waste it,’” he said.

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Star-Tribune reporter Arno Rosenfeld covers local government, with a focus on Casper and Natrona County.

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