Editorial: Community unites in Forward Greater Cheyenne initiative

By Mike Williams and Brian Heithoff

While Greater Cheyenne has many positives going for us, we can do better, making our area a more prosperous and vibrant place to live, work and do business.

That is why community leaders joined together in December 2017 to form Forward Greater Cheyenne, a strategic planning process that has involved more than 2,400 people. The effort was funded by various community stakeholders: Laramie County Economic Development Joint Powers Board, Downtown Development Authority, Greater Cheyenne Chamber of Commerce, Cheyenne LEADS, Visit Cheyenne and many other independent businesses.

The Forward Greater Cheyenne effort has allowed us to unite as a community like never before. People from various backgrounds have brought their expertise to the table, setting aside their differences to develop a consensus vision for the future.

We see Greater Cheyenne as an inviting and exciting community that works together to cultivate engagement and attachment. Our legacy as a cultural anchor of the Western frontier and our emergence as an economic and entrepreneurial engine of the Front Range reflect our identity as a community of pioneers.

Planning beyond the city and county of today will help ensure the success of tomorrow. If we want to attract and retain new generations of employers and employees, having an agreed upon set of strategies and goals is critical so that we can allocate resources to those projects that will have the most significant impact.

Forward Greater Cheyenne does this – it was a bottom-up process that led to eight great strategies that the entire region can get behind. Through a year-long process, we compiled public input, compared it to economic indicators and then identified powerful areas where we can strengthen as a community.

These forward-thinking strategic initiatives include:

  • Strategy 1 – Downtown Revitalization: Facilitate revitalization of downtown Cheyenne through a series of intentional investments, new incentives and redevelopment projects;

  • Strategy 2 – Cheyenne Greenway Transformation: Transform the Greater Cheyenne Greenway into a unique and differentiating amenity along the Front Range;

  • Strategy 3 – LCCC Expansion: Baccalaureate Degrees: Begin offering applied baccalaureate degrees at Laramie County Community College to support long-term economic and workforce competitiveness;

  • Strategy 4 – Cheyenne Center for Enterprise and Entrepreneurship (C2 E2): Develop an environment for entrepreneurship through purposeful investments, programs and policies that support and encourage small business formation and development;

  • Strategy 5 – Business Retention, Expansion and Attraction: Implement a targeted, proactive economic development program supporting the community’s economic diversification through business retention, expansion and attraction;

  • Strategy 6 – Community Beautification: Enhance community attractiveness and image through purposeful investments, programs and policies that support beautification and blight removal;

  • Strategy 7 – Pride, Engagement and Attachment: Enhance resident pride, engagement and attachment by expanding opportunities to positively influence and impact the community; and

  • Strategy 8 – Regional Assets and Infrastructure: Advocate for investments in high-priority transportation, economic and social infrastructure that is central to our economic prosperity and long-term vision.

Forward Greater Cheyenne is vital to the future because, without clarity and focus, our communities will continue to move forward in a disjointed and haphazard manner.

Just like with a business or nonprofit, the better we can move forward in a unified way, the better chance for success.

So why did we personally get involved? It’s gratifying to be involved in a strong, cohesive effort that moves Greater Cheyenne forward, making it the place to live, work and play for future generations. The amount of time and effort put into the visioning process, coupled with the time and effort many more people will put into the execution of the eight strategies over the next five years, is a testament of this region’s desire to reach for excellence.

The Greater Cheyenne area has a lot going for it, but we believe even greater things are on the horizon. As a community, we need to come together and support these eight strategies to ensure that in five years’ time we will see a remarkably more vibrant community.

The time to invest in our community’s future is now. We encourage you to reach out to the team leaders for the eight initiatives and volunteer to help implement these ideas. Visit forwardgreatercheyenne.org for more details.

Mike Williams and Brian Heithoff are co-chairs of Forward Greater Cheyenne.

Rachel Girt