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Visit Casper announces five finalists for business challenge

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People stick pins into a map showing where visitors traveled from during the Wyoming Eclipse Festival on Aug. 20, 2017 in downtown Casper. Visit Casper has announced finalists for a business challenge designed to boost local tourism.

Visit Casper has selected five finalists for its business challenge aimed at boosting local tourism.

The challenge, announced this summer, asks current or aspiring business owners in the hospitality and tourism industries to pitch plans to kick start or expand their businesses.

The winning proposal will be awarded $50,000 worth of seed money to help make those dreams a reality, as well as mentoring and financial support to launch a marketing campaign.

The goal is to help Casper’s tourism industry recover from economic strain brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

The cash prize draws from federal relief money awarded to Wyoming by the CARES Act. Visit Casper originally planned to award $25,000, but decided to sweeten the pot after receiving 27 applications, Visit Casper said in an Oct. 11 news release.

The five finalists and their businesses are:

  • Christy Martinez—“C Bracket Horse Barn”
  • Nicholas Johnson—“Turn on the Dark Entertainment”
  • Juliann Harvey—“Old Town Family Fun”
  • Russell Mason and Razi Saydjari—“Alcova Resort”
  • Jon and Gayle Ramsey—“Barbarian Roasters”

The businesses include family entertainment venues, outdoor attractions and a coffee roasting company.

The finalists will interview with a panel of judges Nov. 12, and money will be awarded by Dec. 20, Visit Casper said in the release.

Tourism in Wyoming suffered a major blow in 2020 as many Americans were forced to ride out the pandemic at home.

The hospitality and leisure sectors appear to have made a comeback this summer, however. In August, revenue from sales and use tax collections from those industries surpassed even pre-pandemic levels, according to fact sheets published by the Economic Analysis Division.

Meanwhile, Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks set records this summer and fall for visitation.


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