Business leaders examined key community issues in a meeting with a D.C. staffer from the office of Senator John Barrasso (WY) on Monday morning to follow up on topics discussed during the Chamber D.C. Fly-in. Your Cheyenne Chamber represented you, your businesses, and your community by addressing the challenges facing our region, including EUL military housing, the Sentinel Missile Program, workforce, immigration, construction permitting, Front Range Rail, and bipartisan collaboration in Washington D.C.
Workforce and Immigration
“Only one potential employee is available for every two job openings in our nation,” according to reports presented by Jack Howard, Senior VP of Strategic Advocacy at the US Chamber.
Among the most heavily affected industries in Cheyenne are construction companies that desperately need skilled workers. Without improved visa processes, Cheyenne and the surrounding region will be unable to meet rising workforce demands.
“Wyoming’s businesses are struggling to fill job positions in all sectors, from licensed professionals to skilled trades. Despite ongoing efforts to grow within and recruit new talent, our industries require additional workforce sources to keep up with community needs. Political gridlock inhibits policy that would encourage workforce migration and is a direct blow to our workforce needs and ability to perform critical work,” said Cailey Reiman, third generation business owner and Cheyenne Chamber Board Member who was in attendance during Monday’s meeting.
Businesses were encouraged to seek H2B visas for incoming workforce, though business leaders reminded those present that this process must be streamlined and have an improved success rate in order to be viable as an option to bring in sufficient workforce.
Our broken permitting system freezes projects that build the infrastructure needed for the future. Projects to address critical needs for transportation, energy, water, broadband, and other priorities find themselves mired in regulatory and legal delays caused by an antiquated permitting process, threatening the U.S. economy and the business community.
Senator Barrasso introduced the SPUR Act in early May. This bill would improve the permitting process, and was a key topic of discussion during Monday’s meeting. However, obstacles within Congress are slowing passage of this essential legislation. Your Cheyenne Chamber agreed to continue to work with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Chamber Partners from around the nation to raise awareness of this legislation.
EUL Military Housing
The EUL Military Housing Project continues to move forward. This project is designed to offer a low-cost housing alternative for local men and women in uniform. Currently, many of these folks traipse off to the northern front range for a place to live; which is truly a disservice to those who serve in our military, and truly a financial loss for our community.
Housing, in general, is a significant issue for our community. Your Chamber continues to believe that our ongoing housing issue is one of the most important economic development priorities we can tackle if we want Cheyenne and Laramie County to have a successful financial future.
“Our community has been advocating with the Air Force and communicating to them that we want to build the housing our airmen need, but bureaucratic delays are steadily sapping interest in this development. This development has been part of the Chamber Mission since 2014, and it is time for a decision to be made,” explained Dale Steenbergen, President and CEO of the Greater Cheyenne Chamber of Commerce.
Sentinel Missile Program
The Sentinel Missile Program took a front seat in discussions this monday. Business leaders vocalized the need to ensure we maintain momentum for this integral program as well as the needed facilities and infrastructure. Your Cheyenne Chamber spends $200k annually to support and advocate for Cheyenne and Wyoming’s Military.
Officials were pleased to hear that your Cheyenne Chamber has been in close contact with Northrop Grumman, FE Warren AFB, and other key stakeholders in the Sentinel Missile Project over the last 18 months. This natural continuation of support traces back to 2010 when your Cheyenne Chamber began advocating for a modernized missile system.
Front Range Passenger Rail
Your Cheyenne Chamber is deeply involved in the Front Range Passenger Rail (FRPR) project as a member of the Front Range Passenger Rail District Board. The FRPR project will be an important building block for Cheyenne as part of a transportation strategy that builds our economy, supports our people’s needs, and modernizes our community. Your Cheyenne Chamber will continue to work diligently to push this project down the track for our people.
Dramatic increases in political polarity have voters fed-up and disillusioned, and is causing increasing gridlock for legislators as they try to serve the American people. As elected officials rapidly polarize and demonstrate an inability to compromise, research shows 48 percent of voters identify as independent.
Regular meetings with our congressional delegation keep issues important to Cheyenne business in front of our legislators and help them understand our needs when representing the interests of Cheyenne and Wyoming. Your Cheyenne Chamber prioritizes this mission every day as we build our region’s future.
How To Change The World
Learn more about your Cheyenne Chamber at CheyenneChamber.org, or call 307-638-3388 to find out how you can support our mission and protect Wyoming’s future.
Story by J. Elizabeth Bennett
Elizabeth Bennett serves the Greater Cheyenne Chamber of Commerce as the Director of Marketing and Communications. She is passionate about working with the diverse communities in Cheyenne and creating accessible communications material that engages our chamber members.