- Associated Press - Saturday, July 2, 2016

LARAMIE, Wyo. (AP) - University of Wyoming administrators and board of trustees members are meeting with the Wyoming Business Council to begin creating a plan for economic diversification in an effort to help the state wean itself from its dependence on energy income.

Gov. Matt Mead said collaboration between UW and state organizations could eventually lead the state away from dependence on the energy sector.

Planners are trying to determine what role the university will have in promoting economic changes. One area the state is hoping to expand is the state’s technology sector.

Shawn Reese, CEO of the council, said the state wants to tap into ideas from educators and students to find ways to improve the economy.

“It’s also about how we can make this plan actionable and performance-based that transcends any governor’s administration. This has to have a life of its own, setting itself apart from past economic development efforts and creating a plan for 20 years of diversification,” he said.

Trustee President John MacPherson said students will be central to the plan, the Laramie Boomerang reported (http://bit.ly/294KmlA ).

“We’ll get a plan in writing, have the trustees and their board look at it, then do a focus group with students,” MacPherson said. “They’re the ones who are going to get involved more so than anyone else involved. We want some of their perspectives and ideas.”

Anne Alexander, professor of economics and associate vice president for undergraduate education, said the university already participates in some of the programs that it considers business incubators.

“One of the highlights of Laramie’s development over the past 10-15 years is the technology sector has gone from about 6 firms to 60 firms,” she said. “That’s been kind of a result from spinoffs from UW as well as business council and State Loan and Investment Board investment in some of the infrastructure and backbone support, like business-ready grants.”

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Information from: Laramie Boomerang, http://www.laramieboomerang.com

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