By Josh Dorrell, CEO, Wyoming Business Council
Resilience is a trait of success.
The pandemic may have temporarily knocked down Wyoming, but we have an opportunity to take the lessons learned and come back stronger, more resilient. We can thrive, not just survive.
Challenges and adversity always push creativity. We’ve gone through boom-and-bust cycles in the state many, many times, but the hardships wrought by the recent pandemic have the potential to be transformative.
Many of our industries were hit pretty hard, and they’re going to continue to suffer. We know that we’re not out of the woods yet, and we’re going to have to come together to leverage what we have learned.
Historically, we’ve hunkered down and survived until the next boom, but I hope this latest bust, plus a global pandemic, will show us that our communities and businesses have the creativity and ingenuity to do things differently and experience growth, not just survive. Looking at new businesses and ways to keep our communities thriving doesn’t mean abandoning what got us here. Rather, it means adding capabilities so that as things improve, we’ll be in a much better position as our core industries regain traction. Those new things will provide resiliency and continuity for future generations.
I’m proud of the Business Council team for quickly cranking out the COVID-19 Business Relief Program to infuse almost half a billion dollars into the Wyoming economy through aid packages in just a few short months. Those dollars have helped keep many doors open.
As we head into 2021, the Business Council plans to shift from recovery relief and focus on resilience, innovation and creativity. We are not seeking big home runs, but instead looking to play small ball, get that bunt or a single, and make sure that we can score runs in maybe untraditional ways.
Throughout this crisis, Wyoming businesses have epitomized resilience. While COVID shut some doors, it also accelerated other opportunities, and visionary individuals, businesses and communities were poised and ready to take advantage of them.
Early innovators, the state’s distilleries, pivoted immediately from making the things that we enjoy on the weekends to manufacturing hand sanitizer to address community shortages.
The Business Council was pleased to help financially support the distilleries’ efforts. BPI Labs in Evanston, a cosmetics compounder, developed a production line for hand sanitizer, and they’re going to continue to make it.
Enviremedial Services in Pinedale started constructing mobile hospital units, and Kennon Products in Sheridan began making PPE for the Sheridan hospitals, just to name a few.
Additionally, many partnerships coalesced to address issues or gaps in services caused by the pandemic, and likely will evolve to address future needs.
The combined efforts of Wyoming Main Street, Wyoming State Chamber of Commerce and Wyoming Economic Development Association rallied communities around shopping local and ordering carryout to keep restaurants open.
The Shop Smart Shop Safe campaign has helped us focus on how to aid business recovery in a post-pandemic world.
The Wyoming Technology Coronavirus Coalition came out of the woodwork, uniting smart people around the state to build PPE and develop technology to support the business community.
Communities around the state have seen new interest in Wyoming’s business friendly environment this year, and that will only continue.
Whether it is the beautiful scenery and easy access to recreation or the safety and quality of life in our communities, Wyoming has what people crave.
With the rise in remote working, people throughout the state can truly have the best of both worlds. We’ve also seen companies move to our state, bringing new opportunities and filling gaps.
But it isn’t just about the “shiny new objects.” It is about our tried-and-true businesses creating new opportunities, as well.
Even in the face of headwinds, there are companies growing and forming in our communities. While it seems counterintuitive, tough times tend to spawn new business growth. As these companies thrive, our communities thrive.
To see people rally together, come up with creative solutions, and look out for their neighbors gives me a great sense of pride and excitement for Wyoming’s future. We now know what we’re capable of and what difference we can make if we rally together.
We’re not going to stumble; instead, we’ll use this as a springboard to propel us forward.
We’ve already heard success stories from every corner of the state, and I’m sure you have, too. We’d like you to share these stories with us and others, not just to uplift, but to spawn ideas and make sure our fellow Wyomingites have access to the tools they need to win. I invite you to share and learn at thrivewyoming.org.
Josh Dorrell is chief executive officer of the Wyoming Business Council.