I have frequently referred to “Wonderful Wyoming.” It is my term of endearment for the place I love, the place I will always call home and the place that, for the last eight years, I have dedicated myself to through public service.
I want what every Wyoming parent wants. I want to see my children have the opportunity to raise their families here while pursuing careers that make them excited to get out of bed every morning. It was with that eye to the future and a humble prayer for Wyoming’s vibrant communities that I wholeheartedly backed the development of the Endow initiative.
Endow, which stands for Economically Needed Diversity Options for Wyoming, is a promising long-term initiative that is only beginning to execute on its potential. Endow advances a mission to move Wyoming beyond the boom-and-bust cycles that have driven our collective fate for too long.
Central to Endow is the premise that the private sector will be responsible for diversifying Wyoming’s economy and achieving Endow’s objectives. Businesses and their actions in the marketplace will define success, spur economic growth and create jobs. The government’s role is not to interfere with that process, but to foster, and where possible, accelerate it, particularly in terms of education, workforce training, infrastructure, and research and development.
After 18 months of incredible work by the Endow Executive Council, Rural Council and the Engage Council, Wyoming has an actionable economic diversification roadmap to set us on a path to prosperity. I am proud to say that the bold recommendations in the Endow 20-Year Economic Diversification Strategy will improve Wyoming for future generations AND positively impact our economic prospects today.
For example, at supper time this evening Wyoming beef will be served in hotels and fine dining establishments in Taipei, Taiwan. Meanwhile, Wyoming producers are experimenting with tracking their herds via the blockchain. That all happened in the span of this year.
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In education, the cornerstone for a tech-savvy workforce has been laid. Boot UP Wyoming 2022 was initiated in the last legislative session to roll out computer science standards for all Wyoming students. This expansive opportunity for Wyoming kids to gain proficiency in computer skills will equip future generations with the essential knowledge to flourish in the jobs of tomorrow.
To ensure that the entrepreneurial ecosystem succeeds, Wyoming must have the local talent to build great businesses. Reflecting Endow recommendations, I signed multiple executive orders empowering us to aim higher in our educational attainment goals. Those directives have positioned Wyoming to enhance its highly-skilled, well-educated workforce.
At Laramie County Community College, for example, the Rediscover LCCC pilot project is offering scholarships this year for adults who never completed a post-secondary degree program and are looking to gain a college degree or certification. This pilot project will serve up to 300 Wyoming adults and, with private funding from the Ellbogen Foundation, offers a great window into the innovative partnerships that Endow enables to allow Wyoming to achieve its ambitious goals for post-secondary educational attainment.
This year the Wyoming Broadband Enhancement Plan was also adopted. This bold plan lays out actionable steps to allow Wyoming people in rural areas, small towns and cities alike to have global connectivity while enjoying the Wyoming lifestyle that keeps us all rooted here.
Finally, by working proactively to secure the future of essential air service for Wyoming families and businesses, through the Wyoming Commercial Air Service Improvement Plan, the private sector is better positioned to take the reins and build successful businesses within the state while offering products and services that can reach far beyond our borders.
Through the work of Endow to date, and with the fresh input and steady guidance of the new administration, Wyoming can advance the building blocks of economic diversification. I look forward to seeing where Endow goes from here and I am tremendously grateful to the Executive Council, Rural Council, Engage Council, staff and private sector stakeholders who have driven this process out of a deep commitment to the future of our state.