The partnership’s mission is to “unite the business community and government to create wealth, jobs and support the quality of life in a manner that is consistent with the current culture of the Powell Valley,” Shelby Wetzel said in a news release. Wetzel is a PEP steering committee member and co-owner of the Powell Tribune.
The envisioned organization would “lead efforts for long-term economic growth and help sustain Powell as a vibrant community,” the release said.
“It’s going to give existing businesses a place to go (for) resources to learn how to expand their businesses, and it will give them a resource for financial assistance, training, inventories of related business. It’s also going to give people outside our community a place to find us if they’re interested in coming here,” LeAnne Kindred, chairwoman of the partnership’s board, said Tuesday.
“Our first priority will be to facilitate opportunities for growth and development of existing businesses, and then recruit new, complementary businesses to Powell.”
The partnership consists of local business leaders and representatives from Northwest College and its foundation, the city of Powell, Park County and Powell Valley Healthcare.
Other board members are Paul Prestwich, Rick LaPlante, Trace Paul, Robin Roling, James Seckman and Kelly Spiering, and 27 other people are serving on the partnership’s steering committee.
The partnership element is critical to the group’s mission, said Dave Reetz, who formerly oversaw local economic development efforts through the Powell Valley Economic Development Alliance as an employee of First National Bank, now First Bank of Wyoming. That arrangement ended when the bank was sold and Reetz retired.
Reetz said economic development efforts he led were successful because the alliance worked as a partner with the Powell Valley Chamber of Commerce and the city of Powell.
“When we were able to put together our efforts, it was a true teamwork,” he said. “All the successes we had were due to the team effort. The Powell way is not to try to compete against each other, but to try to work together.”
Kindred said the $600,000 will employ a director and provide an operating budget for the partnership for three years.
Prestwich said, “Many good people have put energy into planning work for a new economic development organization, but we need a dedicated staff person whose job is to focus business development within our community.”
Kindred added, “We chose three years because it will give this organization a chance to succeed. In three years, our hope is to have the benefits of it obvious so that people can continue in their support.”
Reetz said the effort is needed.
“We certainly need to be in the game, and we need a dedicated individual to perform that role that I was fortunate enough to have in those years,” he said. “When prospects come to the state of Wyoming, normally the trips and all of the activities are centered around having the community prepared to solicit these businesses. If you don’t have someone dedicated to doing that, it becomes real difficult to compete for some of those types of businesses.”
He also stressed the importance of strengthening existing businesses.
“Statistics have proven that most job growth occurs through existing business when you diversify, expand or draw on supportive businesses. That’s why I always promoted the chamber connection.”
Kindred said the new partnership plans to do the same.
“I anticipate we will work hand in hand with the chamber,” she said. The chamber and the partnership “have different jobs to do, and both of them are big. They will work in harmony, and that is our goal.”
Kindred said it is time for a new group to step forward to lead and fund the economic development effort.
“There was a generation of people who led this community to its greatness, and those people are tired now. So it’s up to a new generation to keep it going and make it even better.”
Combined with leadership gifts from PEP Board and Steering Committee members, $247,000 or 41 percent of the funds have already been secured. Fundraising volunteers will begin contacting other local businesses and individuals in November.
To participate in the fund drive or learn more about the Powell Economic Partnership’s work, contact LeAnne Kindred at 754-4132.