Laramie could be riding through Wyoming’s economic downturn on the back of recent economic development efforts, Laramie City Councilor Dave Paulekas said.
“Laramie has diversified enough to weather this downturn,” Paulekas said during the City Council work session Tuesday. “And, I believe that has a lot to do with our eco dev efforts.”
With economic development being the topic of the work session, the council reviewed a city staff presentation about the building blocks of creating a thriving economy.
“Each state and community has their own idea of what the most important economic development building block is,” Laramie Grants Analyst Sarah Reese said. “In Wyoming, we emphasize the block of civic development and leadership. Civic leadership and investment in private infrastructure has a direct impact on job creation.”
Reese said the city’s economic development fund, investment in Cirrus Sky Technology Park and strategic planning efforts were examples of the city emphasizing civic development and leadership.
Community building and quality of life was another block she said Laramie used to form its economy.
“I think this is where we really shine brightly in Laramie,” Reese said. “In addition to traditional quality-of-life indicators, we’ve got a thriving art community. We have 13 museums, 75 locally owned restaurants, five breweries. We’ve got 10 ski areas within 150 miles of Laramie. We’ve got a lot to brag about here.”
In addition to Laramie’s numerous amenities, she said a diverse workforce helped attract businesses from around the nation.
“We think that brainpower is to Laramie what coal is to Gillette,” Reese said.
Crediting the University of Wyoming for providing a pool of innovative and well-educated employees, she said companies such as HIVIZ Shooting Systems and UL selected Laramie instead of other communities in part because of its workforce.
Laramie City Manager Janine Jordan said the city owed its economy to more than just the large corporations.
“We have a really solid core of existing businesses here that employ a large local work force,” Jordan said. “Our smaller mom and pop’s are really important as to what makes our downtown unique.”
The key to building a small-business economy was providing leadership to young entrepreneurs, she said.
“In my humble opinion, this is the building block that has the most potential for our community,” Jordan said. “In general, I think our community is rich with entrepreneurs.”