The core strategic initiatives identified for Economic Development included four primary areas:
- Community Development
- Expansion and retention of existing businesses
- New business attraction
- Entrepreneurial and early stage development
To achieve our strategic objectives a work plan will be developed to assist Dave and the board to focus the available time and resources, and effectively measure progress.
Outlined below is the strategic direction for these four primary areas:
We have a responsibility to promote the standard of living and economic health of our communities. An attractive, viable and safe community is the base of economic development in our area. Following are areas we identified to support this strategy:
- We have a very loyal and caring group of citizens. We will provide opportunities for citizens to better understand the efforts of the JOCO First ED and the value economic development will personally bring to them and their family. This can be achieved by Dave’s visibility in the community through formal presentations and informal interaction; along with a clear and congruent message communicated by the board through their interaction in the community.
- Support the implementation of the priorities identified for Kaycee through the Wyoming Rural Development Council resource Team assessment.
- Further develop our relationship with Sheridan College and develop programs to educate and prepare our workforce for greater employment opportunities with a specific focus on entrepreneurial and Tech/data training.
- Continue to provide opportunity to hold recreation for youth, educational opportunities and public meetings at the CCES.
- Long term vision: Develop a Convention Center to provide the community a place to hold large events and activities and to provide additional space for business and educational needs to meet the growing needs CCES will not be able to meet and support the development of the hospitality industry.
- Build support and awareness for economic development and related JOCO First activities through the implementation of the JOCO First Marketing Plan.
To ensure our economic growth we need to continue our focus on the health and wellbeing of our existing business community. This is an area that was identified in our planning session as needing increased attention.
- Create a plan for the renovation of the second floor of the CCES supporting the goal of increasing the inventory of office space, classrooms and meeting rooms.
- Expand workforce training opportunities including technical/vocational training through our partnership with Sheridan College.
- Identify and support the organic growth of our existing businesses. Implement a business retention and expansion survey evaluating the current state of each business; ability/need to expand; willingness/capacity for risk; assistance we can provide. In addition, this survey will address continuity/sunset planning and how we can play a role in the success of this transition for our local business owners.
- In partnership with the Chamber of Commerce increase development of the tourism industry through the promotion of the Big Horn Mountains and rich history of the region. This is a broad based effort that will impact economic growth across our business sectors. This also ties into the long-term vision of convention services.
- Identify ways to further collaborate with the Chambers and DBA and create a common message and direction for economic development.
Success in new business attraction creates new employment opportunities, new tax base and a variety of positive related economic impacts. Seeking to identify companies that have a potential interest in expanding their business operations and could consider a rural location in Wyoming is the most expensive component of economic development, however, this business attraction can also have the greatest return on investment. Target Industry Analysis needs to be completed to narrow the search parameters and help reduce the cost of the initiative. The identified industries should be selected based on the specific development assets present in the Johnson County region.
The availability of workforce and having available building stock is going to be important to the business attraction effort. The first step is acquiring a sizable piece of property, then developing that property into a build ready site, then building a speculative building on the property and then attracting a business to fill the building or locate in another privately held facility within the community is the final step.
- Continue developing the CCES to provide office/training space and through the creation/implementation of educational programs and continued partnering with Sheridan College to train qualified workers.
- Further evaluate and create a plan on how to develop and promote our current assets:
- Cooling capacity, availability of three transmission lines and 180 megawatts to attract Data Centers.
- Benefit of I-25 and I-90 to attract warehousing/distribution
- Create a virtual spec building during the development period of an actual speculative building. This will provide businesses confidence in the ability to be site ready within 90 days.
- Facilitate and bridge the gap between private owners and JOCO First ED to further develop land. JOCO First ED JPB will serve as an intermediary with private landowners providing marketing to help the private sector.
- Implementation of a plan to address the City’s inventory of undeveloped land.
- Identify the untapped workforce and current skill level to provide prospective businesses knowledge of available talent along with assessing the ability to attract qualified workers to our area.
- Identify potential Site Selectors. Develop shovel ready property based on site selector criteria and provide the necessary infrastructure to address areas of concern to encourage site selectors to actively promote our area.
- Explore the regional marketing concept with Sheridan and Gillette. Develop a plan that will bring benefit to Johnson County.
Working with entrepreneurs to help establish new businesses and assist existing small businesses is an undertaking that involves the investment of not only money but also time. The return on investment regarding fostering entrepreneurship is generally well into the future. However, such assistance is one economic development strategy that is becoming increasingly important to the economic vitality of rural areas. Some of the challenges of an entrepreneurial development program involve both identifying the entrepreneurs and having the resources available to assist them in their businesses. Cultivating and growing partnerships, and developing financial tools to assist entrepreneurs will need to be addressed to increase the potential of success for area entrepreneurs.
- Participate on the development and implementation of Leadership Johnson County to provide a pipeline for future leaders to enhance economic development and forward thinking in our community.
- Offer services for market analysis and business planning to assist start-up organizations to determine risk and viability. This may delivered through JOCO First ED or referred to a partner organization.
- Formulate and implement an Entrepreneurial Club to provide training and hands-on work opportunities to develop our next generation of innovators. Sheridan College and The Boys and Girls club may be good partners to develop this program.
- Assess the viability of creating an investors club or micro loan program to provide low rate financing through for start-ups unable to secure funding through financial institutions. JOCO First JPB investment properties could fund seed money for revolving loans.
Key areas of focus that will have the greatest impact on moving the core strategic initiatives identified above:
- Secure funding through Evaluation and identification Identify and through a potential combination of sources including 1% fund, City, County, grants, or the creation of a nonprofit organization to develop membership and/or fundraising opportunities.
- Implementation of the JOCO First ED Marketing Plan.
- Identify and prioritize the development needs of Clear Creek Elementary School.
- Evaluate the need for an additional staff person and how the role would be funded.
Direction for the Joint Powers Board of Directors
Board members need to be ready to support Dave in the promotion of the JOCO First economic development efforts. These efforts include providing mentoring to existing businesses to support expansion, marketing the area, participating in presentations for visiting companies, being the ears of the organization, and assisting with projects as needed.