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November 05, 2013 8:22 am

EDITORIAL: PEP now poised for progress — and you can help it happen

Written by Ilene Olson

It is refreshing to see progress in the Powell Economic Partnership Inc. After years of planning, visualizing and strategizing, the organization now is poised for forward movement.



The group’s most recent accomplishment is the formation of a steering committee comprising more than 60 community members from many professions and all walks of life. They range from a college president and administrators to high school and college students; from business owners to veterans; from artists to academics; from farmers to medical professionals; from local government representatives to service providers, and from retirees to young people starting their families and careers.

As a group, these volunteers will perform the service the committee’s name indicates: Steering the organization in positive directions that will benefit downtown businesses, the local economy and the community in general.

Committee members will serve as rudders and sounding boards, as voices of experience and as feet on the ground — all of which are needed to steer the organization forward and move it in a positive direction.

Powell once was considered Wyoming’s poster child for economic development. Despite its small size, the city often was at the forefront of technology and other changes that positioned it for growth and progress. One of the most notable examples was installing fiber-optic lines throughout the city to improve Internet accessibility — years before other communities and service providers in the state thought to do so.

With the demise of Target Powell Valley and the loss of the economic development office at the former First National Bank, those types of efforts stalled. The forward thinking that once was a community standard seemed to dwindle and evaporate.

But we believe that’s about to change, and you can be part of that important turnaround. The time to become involved is now.

“We’d love for everyone to be a part of the decision process, the preparation and the planting,” said PEP Chair Rick LaPlante. “Now is undoubtedly the best, cheapest and most effective way to have your voice heard on the direction of economic growth for the Powell Valley.”

LaPlante pleaded with people to make their desires and insights for the community known now, to help with the planning, rather than waiting until plans are put in action and then working to tear them down.

“Waiting for a year or two and then attempting to torpedo the work as the seedlings are emerging is exactly like putting the plow on the tractor and dragging it through the neighborhood garden. It is the most disruptive and ineffective time to do so, and it disrespects the hard work and dedication your neighbors put into it,” he said.

On Tuesday, the steering committee will meet at 9 a.m. to begin considering how to guide the organization. During strategic planning sessions, the committee will review key success factors, quality-of-life initiatives and community organization.

Questions the committee plans to answer include: What should we do? What can we do? When do we want to do it?

Community members are invited to join the discussion, particularly for the “Voice of the Community” meetings from 6-8 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday and noon Wednesday. All three will be held at The Commons, and lunch will be provided for the noon meeting.

At this point, PEP is like a train just pulling away from a station. Movement at the start is hard to detect; in fact, at first it seems the land and buildings are moving while the train stands still. But as the train’s forward momentum increases on a solid network of tracks, its power and progress can be astounding to behold.

Powell Economic Partnership Inc. leaders have put the train on the tracks. With the community’s help, the steering committee will identify the direction and the goal and lay more track. Then it’s up to us to provide the momentum to keep the train moving forward toward a strong local economy and a vibrant community.

Let’s start now to support that effort.

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