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Mead wraps up forum with commitment for future

Mead wraps up forum with commitment for future

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Mead wraps up forum with commitment for future
A report by Wyoming PBS News partner, Wyoming Business Report

By Dennis E. Curran
CHEYENNE — Gov. Matt Mead wrapped up his Governor’s Business Forum on an optimistic note today, telling some 500 business leaders that he is committed to making Wyoming the best place to do business.

Two other speakers, both Wyoming residents with unique national perspectives, urged the business leaders to use their abilities and positions to move the state’s economy to higher levels to meet the challenges of the 21st century, while an energy leader warned that the state’s oil and gas industry faces a challenging future.

Mead said he wants “a better tomorrow for the next generation,” a “better future for our families” and to be able to say that Wyoming not only has the best quality of life, but is “the best place to do business.”

But just hoping for that will not make it happen, he said. “We as a state can’t just wish our way to a better future,” he said. “Each of us individually has to step up; the businesses have to be able to step up.”

The governor also said he thinks Wyoming residents sometimes lack confidence in their state, but he said his confidence increases with the more people he meets and the more success stories he sees.

“You need to believe in Wyoming; you need to believe in our future,” he said. “I have faith in Wyoming’s people; I have faith in Wyoming businesses, and I also have faith that if we set our bar high, it is not unrealistic that we can reach tremendous goals.”

Earlier Wednesday, Hank McKinnell, the retired CEO and chairman of Pfizer Inc., who lives in Jackson Hole, suggested that Wyoming should set BHAGs — Big Hairy, Audacious Goals — and then work hard to meet them.

McKinnell also offered 10 recommendations to the governor for improving the state’s capacity for competing in a global economy, and the top five were “education.” “I do believe that the elected official who moves education to truly world-class status will earn the gratitude of families everywhere,” he said.

Another Jackson Hole resident, Foster Friess, who founded the Brandywine Fund, urged business leaders to work together to move Wyoming forward in solving and resolving problems.
“I implore you, don’t give up,” he said. “We can change this nation.”

But a note of caution was sounded by John Schopp, vice president for the Northern Rockies and new ventures for Encana Oil and Gas (USA) Inc., who said the rapidly advancing technology is allowing oil and gas companies to produce oil and gas less expensively in other parts of the country.

Encana is Wyoming’s largest gas producer and is continually working to develop new properties in the state and Rocky Mountain Region, he said. “I want us to be successful — that’s my job — and you want us to be successful,” he said, “but there’s a lot of competition out there.”

The Wyoming Business Alliance and the Wyoming Heritage Foundation presented the forum.

Wyoming Business Report