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Gordon unveils ‘Wyoming Innovation Network’ effort to bolster education and diversify economy

Wyomings Governor Mark Gordon (YouTube, Wyoming PBS)

CASPER, Wyo. — Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon announced a new proposal aiming to modernize Wyoming’s higher education system and bolster and diversify the state’s economy on Monday, Jan. 25.

The “Wyoming Innovation Network (WIN)” initiative involves collaboration between the University of Wyoming and the seven community colleges across the state.

Some efforts under the vision of the initiative are already underway, including “WyoTransfer,” a common transcript effort aimed to make it easier for students to transfer credits between community colleges and UW.

Other efforts already in the works include a software engineering program that involves a partnership between UW and Cardiff University in the United Kingdom. UW says that partnership aims to make an applied software engineering degree available to students as early as fall 2021.

The partnership may also provide opportunities to students at community colleges in Wyoming.

Other efforts in development include tourism and hospitality programs to bolster tourism, Wyoming’s second largest industry, and entrepreneurship training programs aimed at giving people the tools to start-up new businesses in the state.

“Given the challenges facing our state, I’m committed to ensuring that our higher education institutions work together more effectively,” Gordon said. “Together, we are going to develop and deploy innovative solutions that will provide more and better opportunities to our workers, giving them the tools to compete in a rapidly evolving workplace and helping to strengthen Wyoming’s economy.”

Gordon’s office says the initiative asks higher education institutions to find ways to emphasize:

  • “workforce development on high-potential areas”
  • “supporting and training entrepreneurs and new business startups”
  • “a research and market analysis agenda aimed at technology transfer and commercialization”
  • “developing outside revenue sources such as corporate partnerships to provide new opportunities for students”

UW President Ed Seidel will serve as chair of a task force comprised of educational leaders from around the state who will work toward the goal’s of the WIN initiative.

“Wyoming’s institutions of higher education are excited to take our relationships to a higher level with a focus on helping propel the state’s economy,” Seidel said in Monday’s release from the governor’s office. “Our discussions have identified some excellent opportunities for collaboration, and we’re committed to pursuing them for the benefit of our students and the people of Wyoming.”

The WIN initiative aims to bolster the Wyoming Business Council’s economic vision for the state. Gordon says the approach will help Wyoming find ways to align education in a way that supports both existing industries and the development of new industries.

“Our goal is a unified effort that will help catalyze economic development, strengthen our workforce, support Wyoming businesses and enhance our ability to attract businesses from outside the state,” Gordon said.

Casper College President Dr. Darren Divine said community colleges support the initiative.

“While they have different and distinct missions, complementary and synergistic efforts are already underway between the community colleges and university,” Divine said. “This new effort will enhance Wyoming’s ability to meet the challenges created by our current economic environment.”

Gordon’s office says the governor will announce initiatives related to the new WIN effort “in the near future.”

“In addition to revitalizing higher education, these initiatives will include recovering and enhancing the pillars of Wyoming’s economy (energy, tourism and agriculture), promoting economic diversification, and simplifying the state’s budget process and ensuring Wyoming continues to live within its means,” the governor’s office says.