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Transforming Wyoming

January 7, 2019
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UW plays a key role in the state’s diversification strategy.

By Micaela Myers

Imagine Wyoming in the year 2038. If the state’s ENDOW—Economically Needed Diversity Options for Wyoming—initiative has anything to say about it, that future will include 100,000-plus new jobs, 35 percent of those in rural communities; 79 percent personal income growth; 82 percent gross domestic product growth; 108,000 new residents; and a 30 percent decrease in youth outmigration.

The initiative aims to coordinate and expand ongoing efforts across the state, as well as to produce measurable results expanding the Wyoming economy.

“We need to build on recent success in establishing technology as a fourth leg of Wyoming’s economic strength,” Gov. Matt Mead said when he announced the initiative in 2016. “We need to build on the efforts to add value to coal, minerals and natural resources. We need to build on our success in a growing manufacturing industry.”

Like most states, Wyoming’s governors serve for four years between elections. Past efforts to strengthen and diversify the state’s economy have been tied to those terms, lacking the long-term cohesion and vision for lasting change. That’s why ENDOW spans 20 years.

A partner in ENDOW, UW plays an important role in areas including the state’s educational attainment goal, new and expanded laboratories, energy research, agriculture, health care, entrepreneurship, and new degrees, certificates and online options.

“UW has a massive role—and arguably the biggest role—in creating the new economic future in Wyoming,” says ENDOW Chair Greg Hill, a UW distinguished alumnus who is president and chief operating officer of Hess Corp.  As part of that role, UW must produce students who will  help drive the economic engines of Wyoming, he says.

The five pillars of ENDOW are advanced manufacturing, agriculture, knowledge and creative, natural resources, and tourism and recreation.

“Within knowledge and creative is the whole notion of entrepreneurship,” Hill says.

“We saw what President Nichols is already doing in entrepreneurship at UW as absolutely critical and absolutely key. Similarly, the current efforts on the Science Initiative and the Tier-1 Engineering program are more important than ever and will need to be further enhanced and expanded to ensure advanced manufacturing can accelerate.” 

Finally, the university must connect with residents across the state, Hill says: “I think UW has to see themselves as one of the centers of the spider web, so people can get resources.”

College of Business Assistant Dean Steve Farkas serves as a support staff partner for ENDOW. He says: “The bottom line is that we want to ensure that everyone within the state of Wyoming—whether you’re in a populous area or a rural area—has access to UW’s resources to ensure that we have an educated workforce and that we retain our in-state talent.”

For example, the use of technology and partnerships with community colleges can help offer ongoing education to people throughout the state and also help connect UW’s Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship with those seeking assistance with developing and starting businesses  that contribute to Wyoming’s new diversified economy.

In August, ENDOW released its 20-year diversification strategy, stating: “The final report supports a shared mission to move Wyoming beyond the boom-and-bust cycles that have driven our collective fate for too long. The recommendations outlined support Wyoming’s natural resource, tourism and recreation, and agriculture industries while growing additional sectors alongside, not in lieu of them.”

UW’s role in the strategy includes the following goals:

  • Significantly expand UW’s footprint beyond Laramie to ensure Wyoming residents have physical and digital access to a wide range of bachelor’s and graduate degree programs.
  • Enable shared infrastructure—including federal and university laboratories—to facilitate productivity gains and enable companies to market new products.
  • Establish UW as a globally pre-eminent science, engineering and energy research university.
  • Establish a premier agriculture innovation and research/training center at UW.
  • Evaluate development of health care and telemedicine medical education facilities with a focus on developing providers with expertise in rural health care, primary care, elder care and telemedicine/telehealth.

You can read more about UW’s efforts to diversity and strengthen Wyoming’s economy throughout this issue of UWyo Magazine. To learn more about ENDOW, visit www.endowyo.biz.

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