In the first 100 days in his role as the president and CEO of the Laramie Chamber Business Alliance last fall, Brad Enzi said he completed an assessment of where the group was and where it needed to go, something he considered “fun and eye-opening.”
Now a full year into the role, Enzi said he’s just as excited as ever.
“This is a great first year, I think, in terms of some things we were able to accomplish but really in terms of being able to get in and get a feel for where we were at,” he told the Boomerang.
It’s been a busy year as well, with projects and ideas spanning a wide range of industries.
One ongoing project the LCBA and the Laramie Regional Airport Joint Powers Board have been continuing is their work recruiting and implementing Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, also called drones, at the airport. As major corporations like Amazon and Google start discussions on making deliveries via drone, Enzi said it’s “super cool” to see Laramie at the forefront of the movement.
“I’m still super energized about the opportunities there, and now I think we’re starting to get our arms around what are the challenges, what can we do, what are the partnerships?” he said. “I think that’s the really fun thing to see materializing.”
He added LCBA is just wrapping up a more long-term project to move Underwriters Laboratories, a global independent safety science company, into its new building in Cirrus Sky Technology Park. A collaborative effort between the city and the organization, a building that previously sat empty was finished once the Laramie City Council approved the final fund transfer earlier this spring.
“That’s something that as a town we can be really proud of because they drive so many significant functions right here in Laramie for a corporation that is 24 hours a day around the globe,” Enzi said. “That’s a really neat thing that we’re getting to be a part of as that starts up.”
Collaborative efforts are at the core of LCBA’s work, Enzi said. The organization frequently not only works with its members with various events each week, but it also works with the city and county and more to try to strategize and come up with new ideas and partnerships.
Enzi said the team has been working to be “corporate citizens beyond the borders of Laramie,” trying to find job opportunities for people out of work around the state after situations like the recent closure of Cody Laboratories or the recent coal mine closures in Carbon County.
“At the end of the day I’m also being a little bit selfish because I would like those people to move to Laramie,” Enzi said.
He considers himself a lifelong learner, unafraid to explore new ideas, challenges and potential solutions. That’s especially true when it comes to the various challenges to economic development in Laramie.
Affordable housing, Enzi said, has been one of the biggest challenges when trying to encourage businesses to relocate and grow in the city.
He said he could think of at least four instances where he was driving around town with a business owner interested in Laramie, only to have the owner concerned once he pulled up real estate listings on his phone.
“That’s a challenge that we’re really engaged with the city on; we talk about at every board meeting and the real estate partners that we have that are part of our organization are all talking about on an ongoing basis,” Enzi said. “Everybody is engaged at full speed, which is great.”
But the challenges are often more than meets the eye. For example, affordable housing could mean different things to a variety of people, both in Laramie and beyond. Enzi said with any challenge, including affordable housing, the LCBA tries to “dig in and understand what the problems are and how they play together.”
“One of the most enjoyable parts of the job is to figure out there never is just a simple answer to any question,” he said. “I really enjoy that our organization serves as a kind of a conduit between all the different parties that have to participate to make things happen. Some days it’s more challenging than others, but every day it’s rewarding.”
Even though he spends a lot of time trying to recruit new businesses, Enzi said he’s often more surprised to find out about new and exciting businesses that already exist in town.
“I’m lucky because I’m the guy that gets go to meet them and then see how we can help them grow and excel, so it’s a great place to be,” he said. “I’d be a liar if I was a complainer.”