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ARCHIVED  August 27, 1999

Wyoming Business: Wyo. officials inaugurate new leadership program

Developing Wyoming’s business and political leaders for the 21st Century is the goal of a new statewide program called Leadership Wyoming.
Leadership Wyoming will gather 40 up-and-coming Wyoming residents for a year-long program that will not only teach them about Wyoming and the critical issues facing the state but also develop their leadership skills in helping find solutions to those issues.
The program, scheduled to start next June, is a partnership of the University of Wyoming and the state’s most influential business group, the Wyoming Business Alliance/Wyoming Heritage Foundation.
It is patterned after a number of successful local and state leadership development programs, including Leadership Colorado, but it will be unique, said UW president Philip Dubois and State Rep. Eli Bebout, the House speaker and president of the Wyoming Heritage Foundation.
“Leadership Wyoming is modeled after the best leadership programs in America and is the only one involving a full partnership between the state’s business community and its leading university,” Dubois and Bebout said in announcing the partnership.
Dubois has previously expressed a strong desire to help build future leadership in the state and has wanted the university to play a stronger role in unifying the state.
The program will consist of seven sessions to be held in different locations around Wyoming, including the UW campus, with the first session scheduled to begin in June of 2000.
Bebout is leading efforts to establish a $1 million endowment that will provide annual operating money for the program, and Bill Savage, vice president of PacifiCorp, is heading a drive to secure startup funds.Y2K help available
Wyoming businesses can turn to the Wyoming Small Business Development Center’s new Y2K Outreach Office to prepare for the year 2000.
The SBDC, a partnership of the University of Wyoming, U.S. Small Business Administration and the Wyoming Business Council, has selected Sally Benedict as Y2K coordinator. A small-business owner with 25 years’ business experience, Benedict is president of the consulting firm Benedict Whitney and Associates.
“Preparing for Y2K is a sound economic decision for any business,” Benedict said. “There is no Rright answer’ for any and all situations, but there are processes that guide small businesses to solutions.”
She will help make businesses aware of these solutions by providing reliable information through workshops, access to expertise such as Mid-America Manufacturing Technology Center fall programs, free Y2K jump-start kits, SBA loan information and helpful Web site directions.
“We encourage all small businesses to have a contingency plan (and) be ready for all possible scenarios,” Benedict said. “If nothing happens, that’s wonderful. But businesses need to be proactive leaders, not only for their own interests, but for their communities to be prepared for this as well.”
For more information, call the Y2K Outreach office weekdays from 1:30 to 5 p.m., at (307) 755-0865. Information is also available at SBDC regional offices in Powell, Rock Springs, Gillette, , Riverton and Casper.Wyo. Business Center opens
The Wyoming Women’s Business Center has moved from a dream to a reality as it opened in mid-August on the University of Wyoming campus.
The center will encourage entrepreneurship among women and provide training, business counseling and marketing assistance to women in business or women who want to be in business, said Ann McCullough, its director.
The final pieces for the center came together at a recent Wyoming Business Council meeting with announcement of a $150,000 grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration and announcement that McCullough would serve as director.
The center has a $225,000 total budget with earlier matching grants from the Business Council, the University of Wyoming, the Wyoming Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault and the Wyoming Small Business Development Center.
McCullough has served as project coordinator for the Wyoming Women’s Project for 2 1/2 years and wrote the grant applications to establish the center, which will be housed with the Small Business Development Center, the Mid-America Manufacturing Technology Center and the Research Products Center on the UW campus.
“I am excited about the challenges ahead and am very pleased with the cooperation among agencies for this project,” McCullough said.
“The Women’s Business Center is an important new resource in leveling the playing field for women with good ideas that want to start their own business but may feel intimated by the male-dominated business and financial community in Wyoming,´ said Steve Despain, SBA district director.
“As director of the center, Ann McCullough will bring to the program energy, enthusiasm, access to resources, and above all a sensitivity to the needs of the women who most need the center,” Despain added,
The center was hailed by Gov. Jim Geringer as a means of promoting economic independence for women. “The creative energy of Wyoming women is an untapped resource,” the governor said.State promoted to business execs
Wyoming’s state tourism promoters are inviting a very special type of tourist to the Cowboy State this summer — corporate executives.
They hope to show them that Wyoming is not only a great location for a family vacation but also perfect for a corporate business meeting or a company expansion or location as well.
John Reardon, chief executive officer of the Wyoming Business Council, said the council is inviting corporate executives to participate in executive familiarization tours similar to those tourism promoters have staged over the years for travel media and travel industry executives.
“The program is designed to have a double benefit to the State of Wyoming by building a tourism presence with national firms as a destination for business meetings, family visits and corporate locations,” Reardon said.
Gene Bryan, the council’s tourism director, said the executive “FAM” tours are “an appropriate opportunity to use the strength of Wyoming’s tourism resources to provide a jump-start for the state’s re-entry into actively recruiting new business to the state.”
The first executive FAM tour is set for Aug. 25-29 utilizing the Buffalo Bill Celebrity Shootout in Cody as a base event. So far, seven executives from national firms have signed on.Gov. backs off bond plan
At least for now, Gov. Jim Geringer has backed off a controversial plan to change state bond allocations, a move that many feared would limit a popular state program of providing low-interest mortgage loans for first-time homebuyers.
Geringer earlier this summer had proposed drafting new rules for state bonding authority in an apparent effort to free up more money to help meet a projected budget shortfall next year.
However, the governor’s proposal generated a storm of opposition from Realtors, who argued the bond reallocation would end up cutting off housing loans by the Wyoming Community Development Authority.
WCDA is a public entity that uses state bonding authority for low-interest mortgage loans to first-time homebuyers. WCDA said Geringer’s initial proposal would reduce the number of home loans from 1,900 this year to 500 next year.
Realtors claimed that any slowdown in WCDA activity would severely depress the state’s housing market overall and would be counterproductive to state economic-development goals.
The governor put his proposal on hold after returning from his European vacation and conferring by phone with fellow directors of the WCDA. The governor said part of his reasoning was the likelihood of passage of a federal bond allocation cap this fall that would actually increase Wyoming’s bond authorization from $150 million to $225 million.
However, Geringer said he remains committed to the need for broader community involvement in the bond allocation process, especially those pushing education, economic development and infrastructure in addition to housing.
“My long-term focus continues to be the development of a flexible program that can be used to address a variety of community needs,” Geringer said.
Meanwhile, the WCDA has gone ahead and issued $40 million in bonds for first-time home mortgages as the state began a new fiscal year. The authority said heavy demand for first-time mortgage funds prompted the action.Wheatland company set to grow
With a new merger nearly completed, Georgia Marble Co. hopes to continue to grow business out of its Wyoming marble operation near Wheatland.
“We are quite proud of the Wyoming operation, and we are looking forward to expanding its potential,´ said Howard Scotland, Georgia Marble’s plant manager at Wheatland.
Georgia Marble Co. has owned the marble quarry near the base of Laramie Peak and the crushing and processing plant just outside of Wheatland for more than a decade, but the firm is still known locally as “Basins Inc.”
Georgia marble, in turn, is owned by French conglomerate Imetal, which just purchased English China Clay (ECC), a large calcium carbonate producer with operations in Alabama, Maryland and Wisconsin.
“It brings additional resources, both human and capital resources, to the Georgia Marble operation in Wyoming, as it does for all of the Georgia Marble and ECC’s operations,” Scotland said, adding that he expects a number of positive effects from the merger, including continued increases in productivity and possibly another name change.
Georgia Marble’s Wheatland operation produces commercial crushed stone and materials used in concrete aggregate panels and an industrial line of crushed and fine-ground white marble that is primarily used in “cultured marble” products like sinks and countertops.
The Wheatland marble quarry dates back to the 1950s, when it was a three-man, one-dump-truck operation, but it has grown to about 35 employees under Georgia marble.Dennis E. Curran can be reached at (307) 778-3666 or via e-mail at denncurran@aol.com. His fax number is (307) 778-3600.

Developing Wyoming’s business and political leaders for the 21st Century is the goal of a new statewide program called Leadership Wyoming.
Leadership Wyoming will gather 40 up-and-coming Wyoming residents for a year-long program that will not only teach them about Wyoming and the critical issues facing the state but also develop their leadership skills in helping find solutions to those issues.
The program, scheduled to start next June, is a partnership of the University of Wyoming and the state’s most influential business group, the Wyoming Business Alliance/Wyoming Heritage Foundation.
It is patterned after a number of successful local and state…

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