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Monday, January 15, 2018

Wyo. Business Council hopes lawmakers don't lose sight of its mission

The opportunities and challenges of economic diversification make 2018 perhaps the most exciting year to date for Wyoming Business Council CEO Shawn Reese.

With consequential decisions in the first few weeks of 2018, Reese and his associates will be watching decision-makers closely.

The upcoming year will see the Wyoming Business Council - the state agency tasked with making strides in economic diversity - mark its 20th anniversary. And it's a critical time for the agency's existence.

ENDOW - which stands for Economically Needed Diversity Options for Wyoming - is Gov. Matt Mead's initiative to diversify the economy through the next 20 years.

It comes at a time when the state is leveling off from a devastating economic bust that resulted in two years of cuts to state agencies across the board.

With the 2018 legislative session approaching, lawmakers are still grappling with a more than $700 million budget deficit. In the past, Wyoming's economic downturns have been reversed when prices in the state's breadbasket mineral commodities have gone back up. Revenue estimates improved in late 2017, and lawmakers are hoping for an even better outlook when an updated report is released in January. However, Mead, legislative leadership and economists believe the situation is different this time around.

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