By Sarah Pridgeon
Crook County has a bright future if it continues down this path, says Secretary of State Ed Murray. Touring Wyoming to see the state’s money at work, what Murray noticed on his travels last week was the forward-thinking attitude in this area.
“I’m very impressed with the energy and positive attitudes that I’m experiencing up here in northeast Wyoming. I’ve had some very good meetings,” he says.
“There is a very positive, optimistic sentiment that I am sensing here.”
As Secretary of State, Murray says he takes his responsibilities of sitting on the State Loans and Investment Board (SLIB) and State Board of Land Commissioners (SBLC) seriously. In that light, he considers it important to visit the projects in which the two boards have an interest and intends to visit every county once per year to meet with its local government leaders.
“I do a lot of listening,” he smiles. “I also site tour the various projects.”
Murray visited the Moskee area as part of the loop, where SBLC has considered multiple land swaps recently, and made other stops throughout Crook and Weston Counties. He spent time with elected officials in Pine Haven and Moorcroft, he says, and even had the chance to spend an hour at the Tower around sunset, which he describes as a sacred and powerfully moving experience.
“My job is to listen and learn what is of importance in these communities so I can effectively advocate on behalf of these local governments. The state needs to recognize that local governments need a predictable and certain source of revenue and I know that there have been some challenging times that have triggered the scrutiny of local government funding,” Murray says.
“I’d like to visit and understand how the local governments are doing and discuss ideas and solutions that will provide for greater certainty and predictability for funding.”
Murray is hearing the same concerns throughout the state in terms of financial security, though he has also noticed that every community is unique in its desires, interests and needs. However, he says, he has high hopes for the future of Wyoming and believes the state is now heading into positive territory.
“It’s important to note that, just a year ago, there was, for example, only one drilling rig in Wyoming. The future is looking much, much brighter in terms of that bust having bottomed out with an upward projection on production and revenue,” he says.
“I think Wyoming has definitely weathered the storm and that our best days are ahead. However, we more than ever need to go forward boldly and creatively to start to provide strategies and implement plans that can take us into a diversified economy.”
Despite the downturn that Wyoming has been experiencing, Murray has noticed new businesses popping up here and there throughout the state.
“I’m seeing some real pockets of prosperity and positive economic growth and entrepreneurial spirit – and I’m seeing that here,” he says.
“The key is your leadership here in this community and the friendliness, and then the spirit of embracing and nurturing existing business to help them expand, as well as being open and ready to receive new business that may relocate here.”
Sundance is a great model for the Wyoming quality of life, he continues. In this area, you’ll find great schools, healthcare and a beautiful setting in close proximity to outdoor opportunities, all combined with an entrepreneurial ecosystem that embraces free enterprise.
“I’m very, very impressed with your leadership here and I think that they are very forward thinking and advocate very well for this area,” he says. “This is such a wonderful county and area of the state.”
As Wyoming moves out of the economic downturn, Murray encourages Crook County to continue following its path. Economic growth will be vital, he says.
“Let freedom ring in the sense of: encourage and nurture free enterprise. That’s the pathway to prosperity and, with my background in business and owning and operating business, I know first hand the importance of having a community that fosters opportunity rather than creates hurdles and roadblocks,” he says.
“This has to do with everything from housing to being business friendly and that’s what I advocate for because I know that, the more rules and regulations and obstacles there are to free enterprise, there is a corresponding decline in prosperity and growth and economic activity.”
On a statewide level, Murray hopes to see Wyoming become much bolder and more aggressive in marketing itself, reaching out to inform the nation and the world of all that this state has to offer.