Wyoming Business Alliance History: 1979-2012
History: Founded in 1979 as Wyoming Heritage Society and Wyoming Heritage Foundation; original Steering Committee of 15; first staff director Harry Roberts, former State Superintendent of Public Instruction: 198-1986; second president Bill Schilling: 1986-present. Organization began with an advertising campaign to promote multiple use and serve as an alternative voice coal industry development.
First logo/branding included oil and gas, mining, tourism and ranching symbols; mission statement added in 1991: “Working Together for a Better Wyoming.” New logo/branding in 1998 with Wyoming Heritage Society name changed to Wyoming Business Alliance. Heritage Foundation name unchanged: Mission--“A Strong, Diverse and Sustained Economy Benefits Wyoming.” New branding in 2012: Mission--“Leadership, education, advocacy. Build your success.”
Steering Committee meets quarterly. Beginning in 1987 one Steering Committee a year was held outside of Casper. Jackson was the first. First Steering Committee meeting was held in Cheyenne in 1991. In 1999 the February Steering Committee in Cheyenne was held in conjunction with the first Business Alliance Legislative Dinner. The Steering Committee was expanded to thirty in 1987 and to forty-two in 1991. With the Associations Partnership the Steering Committee today has sixty-four members—forty-five three year terms; nineteen associations which can change yearly.
Ad Campaign: Radio and TV on Wyoming’s basic economic strengths: 1980-1988. Several received production awards. Sponsorship of Report to Wyoming—1983-1990.
Annual Public Opinion Survey: 1981-1997; Wyoming Business Indicator Survey/Secretary of State’s Office: 1998-2002
Public Forums: First Public Forum in 1982. First “national speaker” in 1986—Carl Bagge, President of the National Coal Association. From 1982 to 2009 forums held in Casper; switched to Cheyenne in 2010. Forum White Papers: 1986-2011; insert in Wyoming Business Report 2002-2011. Attendance by Wyoming Governors and Wyoming Congressional Delegation frequent. Day and a half event largest of its kind in the nation. More than 15,000 people have attended the yearly event.
Special Interest Forums: Five between1992 and1999: MRS, health care, telecommunications, state budget; replaced by Economic Outlook forums
White Papers: First White Paper published in 1982; eleven published to date. First one on “Wyoming Revenue Projections;” Last two: Wyoming Oil and Gas Economic Contributions” (2008) and “Wyoming State and Local Government Spending” (2010).
Legislative Lobbying: Proactive and vital business community legislative leadership , beginning with Kern River in 1988 through the creation of the Wyoming Business Council, Hathaway Plan, Energy Commission, Federal Land Management, and Education Accountability. In 2004 Wyoming Prosperity Project became operational—establishing a platform to assess and prioritize legislative positions: Economic Strength, Quality of Life, Infrastructure Development, Government Spending and Taxes, and Public Lands.
Associations Partnership: This was organized in 1989 and includes 17 trade associations plus Wyoming Chamber of Commerce Executives and Wyoming Economic Development Association. Reports are made from these various entities at each quarterly Steering Committee meeting to provide information sharing from many different business interest perspectives.
Economic Outlook Forums: The first Economic Outlook forum held in 1996 at a time when Wyoming’s economy was struggling. Howard Benson from Atlanta and the featured speaker challenged the audience by saying “Wyoming you aren’t hungry enough for economic development.” Forty-three to date have been held to date—from one in 1996 in Casper to twelve in 2012 (Casper, Cheyenne, Cody, Gillette, Jackson, Laramie, Pinedale, Riverton, Rock Springs, Saratoga, Sheridan, and Worland) . Utilization of national economists at each plus Wyoming speakers and panelists. Economic analyses by region/county prepared by Business Alliance.
Annual Legislative Dinner: First Legislative Dinner in 1999; yearly event in February ever since. Standard attendance—fifty or so legislators. One of the premier legislative receptions/dinners during the legislative session.
Leadership Wyoming: A partnership between the Wyoming Heritage Foundation and University of Wyoming, Leadership Wyoming was established in 1999.. Graduation of first class was in 2001; 487 graduates to date, including Governor Matt Mead, Federal Judge Nancy Freudenthal, and Senator John Barrasso as well as 19 state legislators. First program of 1500 nationally to have: 1.) an endowment over $1 million and 2.) incorporation of the Integrated Work of Leadership (InnerWork) curriculum. Each year a class of forty-five meet in eight different locations around Wyoming.
Kern River Natural Gas Pipeline: The Business Alliance led this legislative initiative in 1988. It was passed by a one vote margin in the legislature. In the following two years Bill Schilling coordinated and led marketing efforts in California on behalf of Governor Sullivan and the Wyoming Oil and Gas Commission. The pipeline to California was completed several years later. In 1998-99 Jonah II took off, with the Business Alliance being the first state group to endorse this economic development effort. In 1997 the Alliance was active with Cave Gulch and in 2000 was one of the first supporters of coalbed methane in NE Wyoming. In November, 2000 the Alliance analyzed and announced to policy leaders and the public that “Wyoming is the btu capitol of the Western Hemisphere.” In the following legislative session a Business Alliance effort to create the Wyoming Energy Commission was approved—a pathway which led to such state initiatives as the Pipeline Authority, Infrastructure Authority, School of Energy Resources, CO2 Sequestration, and the Western States Energy Symposium.
Wyoming Business Council: The Business Alliance first began talking about sustained and more proactive economic development at a Wyoming Forum in 1988 featuring Robert Holland, Committee for Economic Development. Over the next ten years via forums and the annual survey the Alliance actively promoted a new state effort and partnership with business. The 1996 economic outlook forum—our first—led to the Retreat at UCross organized by Bill Schilling with Governor Geringer and forty business and political leaders, followed by state and private sector funding for planning legislation in 1997 and passage of the Business Council legislation in 1998. At passage in the Senate, a standing room gallery stood and applauded, signaling an important and new commitment in Wyoming for sustained and meaningful economic development. In 2000 the Alliance organized and managed a retreat in Casper to resolve internal Business Council upheaval. Were it not for the intervention, the Business Council in all likelihood would have been eliminated. This was relayed to Alliance President Bill Schilling in as conference call by the President of the Senate and Speaker of the House.
Education: The Business Alliance’s first formal entry into education was in 1989 via a forum which featured Governors Lamar Alexander and Tom Kean. Our Blueprint for Business report published in 1990 addressed the need for endowed chairs at the University of Wyoming and areas of national excellence. Subsequent forums on education were held in 1996, 2004, 2005 and 2008. The 2004 forum led directly to the creation of the $400 million endowed Hathaway Plan for college tuition assistance with legislation in 2005 and 2006. Governor Dave Freudenthal invited James Caillier, Patrick F. Taylor Foundation in New Orleans, to Cheyenne at which point Bill Schilling steered business community leadership and presentations to education and appropriation committees. Legislators credit the Business Alliance as the driving force behind the Hathaway Plan’s passage. The 2007 forum led to legislative initiatives regarding education accountability in 2011 and 2012, with Alliance President Bill Schilling appointed by the Governor and Legislature to chair the Education Accountability Advisory Committee.
Federal Lands: The Alliance has done research, white papers, public comment and legislative work regarding federal lands since 1982. The Office of Federal Land Management created in 1992 began a course of action for the Business Alliance that includes leadership on, and legislation for: Kern River, Infrastructure and Pipeline Authorities, Energy Commission, School of Energy Resources, CO2 Sequestration, Western States Energy Conference, and Federal Lands Economic Analysis. Energy/natural resource speakers had lead roles in the 1986, 1988, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1999, 2000, 2003, 2008, and 2009 annual forums.
National Speakers. National speakers at forums have included the following: Paul Volcker, Former Chairman of the Federal Reserve-1987
Federal Judge Robert Bork-1988
Governors Tom Kean and Lamar Alexander-1989; Susan Merrow, President of the Sierra Club-1990; US Senator Jim Jeffords-1991; General Dick Lawson of the National Coal Association and Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney-1992; Jerry Swanson author on debt and US Senator Warren Rudman of the Concord Coalition-1993; Don Kendall, retired Chairman of PepsiCo-1994; Grover Norquist, Americans for Tax Reform and Utah Governor Mike Leavitt-1995; Dave Pelzer, the author of “A Child Called It”-1998; Victor Hanson the author of “The Survival of Democracy” and Daniel Goldin, NASA Adm,inistrator-1999; Michael Economidies, author of “The Color of Oil”-2000; Joe Sipia, President of FMC, Rulon Gardner, Olympic Gold Medalist, and Murray Smith, Alberta’s Minister of Energy-2001; Scott Serota, President of Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Richard Corlin, President of the American Medical Association, and Jack Farris, President of NFIB-2002; Gale Norton, Secretary of Department of Interior-2003; James Caillier, Taylor Foundation and author Sylvia Ann Hewlett-2004; Patricia Mulroy, Southern Nevada water Authority, and Governor James Hunt, North Carolina-2005; Mary Bomar, National Park Service Director, Fred Kleisner, Chair of NOLS, and Tom Bodett, Motel 6 etc-2006; Governor Bob Wise, West Virginia and Chester Finn, Fordham Foundation-2007; Bjorn Lomborg, Denmark author on climate change-2008; Governor George Allen, Virginia and Amity Shales, expert on economic depression-2009; Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, the Debt Commission and David Walker, Peterson Foundation and US Comptroller-2010; and James Wolfensohn, World Bank, Foster Friess, Brandywine Fund, Hank McKinnell, Pfizer, and Herb Allen, Allen and Company.
October 3, 2012