ENDOW Progress and Next Steps – Barb Sessions update
In November 2016 Governor Matt Mead created a task force to identify barriers to economic diversification in Wyoming. Silver Star’s Vice President and CFO Barb Sessions is one of 25 members of the Economically Needed Diversity Options for Wyoming (ENDOW) Executive Council, which submitted its preliminary findings and recommendations in December of 2017.
“It has been great to travel around the state and there has been good camaraderie on the council, It’s a good mix of people – entrepreneurs, lawyers, educators – and we have all wanted to produce something that results in action,” said Sessions.
The council identified barriers to economic diversification including “infrastructure bottlenecks, reliable wireless and internet service, access to healthcare, community amenities attractive to family and businesses and a healthy pipeline of highly educated and skilled workers.”*
The ENDOW council also identified five pillars, or economic engines, around which they believe a new, more diverse economy, can be built. The report is quick to explain that is ONLY IF there is a long-term, sustained commitment of state resources. New subcommittees are being formed around each of those economic engines:
• Advanced Manufacturing
• Agriculture/Food/Beverage/ Energy/Minerals
“Broadband has played into every topic explored by the committee,” Sessions reported.
ENDOW recommended the formation of a telecommunications advisory council and broadband coordinator to ensure follow-through on the report’s recommendations including mapping broadband facilities and available speeds, a one dig policy, and grant money to help defray the high cost of building communications facilities in rural areas. The one dig policy would require coordination between different utilities whenever anyone is digging in the public right of way, to minimize disruption in right of ways and to ensure all facilities are installed at the same time.
Broadband speed goals laid out by the ENDOW report:
• 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload to all residents in the state by 2020
• 1 Gbps to 50% of business corridors in the state by 2022
• 1 Gbps to all business corridors in the state by 2025
The council recommended that 10 million dollars be allocated to fund broadband efforts.
To follow the next steps of the ENDOW Executive Council, watch broadcasts of their meetings on Facebook Live: www.facebook.com/ENDOWyo
*ENDOW Preliminary Findings and Recommendations, December 31, 2017, Introduction Letter