Celebrating Economic Development in Goshen County

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Polls have shown the majority of people have a hard time defining economic development. The phrase brings business recruitment to mind. But attracting businesses is only one aspect of the complex process of building a sustainable economy.

Jeff Finkle, President and CEO of the International Economic Development Council (IEDC), says, “economic development is about creating places where people want to invest, work and live. It’s about making connections between people, companies, institutions, and communities.”

Communities across the country are gearing up for National Economic Development Week, an IEDC event that helps elevate the profile of economic development efforts. This year's celebration takes place from May 7-12. For the second year in a row, Goshen County is participating.

“It’s a great opportunity because usually we’re focusing on promoting the assets of our community. But we never really promote what we do,” says Goshen County Economic Development Corporation (GCEDC) CEO Ashley Harpstreith. “It’s a time to get the word out about how important economic development is and to take a look back at our accomplishments.”

The Goshen County Commissioner’s office has issued an official proclamation recognizing the week locally. “Economic development is vital for Goshen County to be successful,” says Wally Wolski, Goshen County Commissioner. “It’s important for our community — not just for Torrington, our county seat — it affects smaller municipalities as well.”

GCEDC is planning a number of events to commemorate the week. On May 4, a membership partnership breakfast where business owners will have a chance to share news about their companies happens at the Cottonwood Country Club. The economic development activities of each of Goshen County’s five communities will be featured on live radio remotes throughout the week.

Wolski notes that Goshen County is the only county in Wyoming that has been taking advantage of a unique opportunity presented by the state legislature to impose a tax for economic development projects via the quarter-cent economic development sales tax.

Some of the funding collected from the quarter-cent tax goes toward GCEDC’s Progress Program, which has awarded more than $673,000 to organizations, municipalities and businesses since it began in 2011. Grants are made through three programs: the Community Enhancement Fund, Capital Matching Fund and Infrastructure Investment Fund.

Among the many projects funded, the Town of LaGrange received $69,757 for infrastructure projects, including water and sewer improvements as well as street repair.

Pleasant Valley Greenhouse and Mini Golf received capital matching funds to develop two additional bowling lanes and pay for specialized equipment and machinery. Matching funds enabled AJ’s Soda Shop to complete concrete work for sidewalks and a parking lot.

Community enhancement grant funds were awarded to the Homesteader’s Museum to finalize the Baggage Room restoration and to the Goshen County Sportsman’s Club for an airsoft and paintball course.

Wolski points out that the tax provides many benefits for Goshen County residents. “We leverage that money to get matches on grants for the county and for programs that put money back into the community,” he says. “It’s used not only to attract businesses and expand economic growth but also to improve life for citizens.”

Find out more by following GCEDC’s Facebook page.

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