Local regional economic strategy draft released

Nick Balatsos nick@glenrockind.com
A new draft copy of an economic strategy plan has seven suggestions to usher the region into the year 2021. 
Among them, the new report, penned by the North East Wyoming Economic Development Coalition, recommends promoting sustainable economic development, affordable housing, enhanced technical training, business retention and expansion, more robust infrastructure,  enhanced fiber optics and broader access to funding. 
Dell Atkinson, the executive director of the NEWEDC, stressed that the report is only a draft and said that the group is seeking comments from officials and members of the public before finalizing it.
Campbell, Converse, Crook, Niobrara and Weston counties comprise the region studied as part of the economic district. Natrona County joined the NEWEDC in December of 2001 but was excluded from the region in 2009, according to the report. 
Replacing an outdated document, the report is called the Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy and is required by the U.S. Economic Development Administration in order to receive grant funding for projects. 
As part of creating a more sustainable economy, the report suggests partnering with regional business leaders to develop a recruitment plan and exploring new areas of industry, such as advanced manufacturing, aerospace centers, cyber security, logistics and data centers. 
The report also suggests partnering with the University of Wyoming and other colleges to increase business diversity; finding and using new applications for carbon dioxide; preparing the region for growth; and targeting and approaching new businesses.
To maintain the availability of affordable housing, the report suggests creating a database for funding opportunities and developers and locating the need for affordable housing. The report also indicates a need to increase the skills of the labor force by providing technical training, and in doing so, suggests identifying what skills are in demand and a more aggressive campaign to inform the public of the available educational resources. 
The report suggests ways for providing businesses with greater assistance expanding, identifying the businesses that would make good candidates for that help and bolstering the state’s abysmal access to high speed internet and fiber optics. Atkinson said that his group will be accepting comments on the draft until the end of June, which is when they would like to finalize the report.


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