Monday, June 1, 2009

WBC on the road - Day 1

Matt and I left bright and early this morning for our week-long trip around the state. Two interviews, three towns, and lots of miles later we have landed in Sundance, Wyo. for the night.

We've decided to work the blog this week by documenting each day from both of our perspectives.

We've also decided to have a little extra fun by seeing how well folks out there know the state. Each day we'll have a "Where in Wyoming is Matt and Kim" photo. Unfortunately, we can't give away any awesome prizes like a community development grant or something, but we're hoping to spur some conversation and show people some cool/interesting/off-the-beaten path stuff in Wyoming.

So...without further ado, today's "WWMK" photo is below. Do you know where we are?

Matt's Day
Today Kim and I hit the road bright and early and headed out for Day 1 of our seven-day trek around the state to secure photos and videos of folks who have used Business Council programs to help improve their businesses.

Our first stop was Ron Richner's outfit near Alcova, Wyo.

We pulled up to find Ron waiting for us on his porch ready to show us what his business is all about. Richner runs summer drift boat tours down the Platte River.

He invited us to take the three-mile jaunt down the river through a portion of his property, but our tight schedule required us to very reluctantly decline such a gracious offer.

After visiting with Ron for an hour or so, we tore down the gear and packed up for our drive to Glenrock to meet with the mayor and other city officials about how a BRC grant has literally transformed the landscape of Glenrock's downtown.

The Commerce Block Building - the historic building improved through BRC funding- is one of those iconic small-town, downtown structures that fell victim to time and neglect.

According to the mayor, the building sat empty and ugly for more than 30 years.
It was hard to believe considering how gorgeous and period correct the building is now.

It is pure how proud the residents of Glenrock are about their past, present and future, and the mayor made no bones about how valuable the Business Council has been as a partner in Glenrock's evolution.
I'm looking forward to tomorrow's leg of the trip...It's sure to be as fast and furious as Day 1.

Kim's Day:
Matt and I hit the road fairly early this morning with a loaded down Dodge Avenger (dubbed the U.S.S. Avenger early on because Matt kept replying to me with pirate-like responses), and loaded up on coffee from Little America resort.

Our agenda this week is driven primarily by requests from our Investment Ready Communities and Agribusiness divisions, with some catch-it-if-you-can requests from Wyoming Tourism, Wyoming Main Street, and the Business and Industries division.

As we drove, I realized it's a little overwhelming to be on the look out for photos and video that depict ag, tourism, entrepreneurship, and the quintessential where you want to "live, work and play," photos we all desperately need. I told Matt we should just take photos of everything and keep the video camera running!

That is indeed what we did at both of our stops today. Our first interview was with a rancher outside Alcova, Wyo., who will be featured in an upcoming Agtivities magazine and who is using the resources he has on hand to diversify his operation. He eagerly showed us the drift boats he rents to anglers on the North Platte - just a few hundred feet from his front door - and the contraption he put together to bale small bales of hay for crafters and small pet owners.

We then made our way to Glenrock (or, as Matt kept calling it, Newcastle or Castle Rock, which, um, is in a totally different state! He'll also be participating in the "where in Wyoming" we are photo contest...) for our next interview, which was after a very tasty lunch at the unexpectedly delightful Paisley Shawl, a place definitely worth getting off the interstate for!

We interviewed the mayor who gave us a personal tour of a couple WBC projects in town: the Community Block Building, an historic building they used some WBC grant money to help restore and turn into commercial rental space, and a rifle manufacturing business that will bring jobs to town.

What stood out about our interviews is how talkative these folks were and how eager to share their story, proud of the work done, and excited about their community they are. And for me personally, it's also nice to see the real effect of where our dollars go. It's one thing to write press releases about projects and grant funding, but quite another to see the work done and the impact it's had.

And this is only day one.

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