Welcome to my first blog post on our new and vastly improved website that brings all of the entities that we house and work in under one umbrella. Our website has information for the traveler, for those looking to do business in Goshen County and information for locals such as community events. The site features a new and robust community events calendar where users are able to add their own events. The photography showcases the beauty of Goshen County. Please continue to check back from time to time as new blogs will be added periodically. I plan to do short blog posts about various topics, hopefully this a tool that can used to share and spread information about what we do and why we do it.
As Chief Executive Officer of Go Goshen, I reflect on some of the accomplishments of 2023. We had another successful Summer Concert Series. The weather was tricky, but we were able to successfully hold those events one way or another. I think of the Ag Breakfast that is held the morning of Goshen County Fair Day; yet another successful event. Community businesses and non-profits come together as sponsors to show support for the agriculture industry by providing a free breakfast for them to enjoy in the midst of a busy fair week. These Chamber and Main Street events along with Trunk-or-Treat and the Christmas festivities offer a sense of community; bringing people together, and that should be celebrated.
Quarter-penny sales tax for economic development continue to be utilized throughout the county. To date, approximately $1.5M have been awarded through Progress Program, those grant dollars have been matched to over $20M in investment in our municipalities, businesses, and non-profits throughout Goshen County.
Go Goshen has taken back over the administration of the Goshen County Tourism Promotion Joint Powers Board and Goshen County lodging tax funding. Soon after taking back over, the Wyoming Department of Tourism awarded an $80,000 grant to the Goshen County Tourism Promotion Joint Powers Board for uses outside of their normal annual expenditures. That money has been matched with economic development funds for the website buildout and will continue to be used for other things after the first of the year. The Goshen County Tourism Promotion Joint Powers Board uses local lodging tax funds to market Goshen County and its assets to potential travelers in the United States and internationally.
Looking onward, Wyoming and Goshen County have struggled to recruit new businesses and it frequently poses the question as to why that is. Wyoming has a low tax structure with no personal or corporate income tax, with Goshen County possessing one of the lower sales tax rates in the state at 5.25%. Why aren’t businesses flocking to Wyoming? I recently attended the Governor’s Business Forum and saw a slide during a presentation that I found informative. The top two issues in corporate site selection are labor costs and quality of life, respectively. Other issues were availability of skilled labor, energy availability, construction costs and broadband access. Taxes weren’t mentioned, I am sure they are somewhere on the list but not in the top few. Because a qualified workforce is needed throughout the economy, Go Goshen, in partnership with Eastern Wyoming College and the EWC Foundation funded a grant writer position to seek grant funding which will better enable EWC to build out programs for workforce development. Community colleges are at the forefront in Wyoming for generating a quality and qualified workforce for Wyoming industries. This venture is going to take time, but keep in mind economic development is a marathon, not a sprint.
This grant writer is also looking at other issues we have as a community to enhance our quality of life. Housing and recreation are two subjects that are being pursued to get an idea of the needs in the area; finding whether the economics match the incomes, and whether or not projects generate a positive return on investment. To best go after a solution, we must understand the problem from all sides.
Lastly, this next year you will be seeing a lot more of the Go Goshen staff out and about. We desire open lines of communication with the businesses and non-profit organizations in Goshen County. We want everyone to feel that if there is an issue that needs solved or a win that needs celebrated, Go Goshen is the first phone call. Local, small business is the lifeblood of Goshen County and if there are obstacles, we have the resources to help.
To end this blog post, I will say our New Year’s Resolution is to be a better entity than we have ever been before. We are going to be the friendly face that you know is working for the betterment of Goshen County citizens and businesses. The Go Goshen team and I wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!