CHEYENNE – A new effort to better diversify and develop Wyoming’s economy and workforce will receive a major boost with the allocation of $ 27 million in federal funding by Governor Mark Gordon.
Funding from the US Rescue Plan (ARP) will help cover the first year of the New Wyoming Innovation Partnership (WIP). WIP is intended to support the overall economic vision for the state as defined by the Wyoming Business Council and to support the goals for academic success developed by the state.
“I believe there is an urgent need to launch the first phase of this initiative as a way to help Wyoming’s economy grow and prosper as we emerge from the COVID pandemic,” Governor Gordon said. “The projects supported by this funding build on the successes we’ve already seen in developing the necessary workforce and engaging Wyoming entrepreneurs so they can innovate and grow their businesses and technologies. “
“This investment will use our higher education institutions to help chart a course for a healthy future for Wyoming,” added the governor. “By working together, we can create more opportunities for people to live and work in our state, and ensure our workforce has the skills they need for today’s jobs and industries.” today and tomorrow. “
In the first phase of WIP, ARP funding will be allocated to both the University of Wyoming and community colleges for collaborative programs in entrepreneurship, energy, digital infrastructure, technology, tourism and hospitality. This is only the first phase of this partnership. Higher education institutions have committed to using these funds as ‘seed’ funds and plan to develop ways to find new efficiencies so that programs can be self-sustaining.
“We appreciate Governor Gordon’s commitment to this valuable federal funding to help state higher education institutions launch new initiatives that we are confident will bring strong returns to the long-term economic future.” state, ”said UW President Ed Seidel. “This collaboration will allow us to accomplish much more than if we had to act independently, and the opportunities available to us are exciting. “
Casper College President Darren Devine said the funding will help community colleges implement WIP and build on existing efforts that have been launched in recent years.
“The ARP funding will be used to build on the hard work already done in recent years,” Devine said on behalf of the community colleges and the college commission. “The Statewide Longitudinal Education Data System, the WyoTransfer process, Wyoming Works, and the fulfillment work have all established a solid foundation on which to work to enhance our economic development and innovation efforts.” . “
Among the educational programs that will be launched to serve Wyoming students and businesses is a new Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. This includes expanding UW’s IMPACT 307 business incubators – currently located in Laramie, Casper and Sheridan – to all college towns (adding Cheyenne, Gillette, Powell, Riverton, Rock Springs, Torrington) as well as Evanston and Rawlins.
The funds will also help start a statewide computer education program. This innovation includes a new computer science school at UW; launching a software development degree with the Northern Wyoming Community College District (NWCCD) taking the lead in the initial development and delivery of the program; and for the development and education of fintech and blockchain programs.
In tourism and hospitality, UW will launch its Wyoming Outdoor Recreation, Tourism and Hospitality Center. Casper College, Central Wyoming College, Northwest College, NWCCD and Laramie County Community College will receive program support in search and rescue, culinary training and hotel / restaurant / event management and outdoor recreation; and all institutions to establish training programs to meet the underserved needs in Industry No. 2 in the state.
In critical areas of energy and natural resources, funding is also provided for power line technology and low voltage fiber optic programs at community colleges. WIP is focusing on workforce development in high potential industrial sectors both statewide and regionally, including strengthening support for the Wyoming Works and Wyoming Investment faculty programs in Nursing. The WIP effort supports and trains entrepreneurs and new start-ups; a research and market analysis program aimed at technology transfer and commercialization; and develop external sources of income such as corporate partnerships to provide new opportunities for students. The intention is to better focus state resources to help both existing industries and areas identified as having significant growth potential. Additional industrial sectors such as healthcare, agriculture and manufacturing are part of WIP’s multi-year plan.