Manufacturers and producers in Wyoming will have new opportunities to expand their customer base thanks to developments with two Wyoming Business Council programs designed to brand and market locally grown and made products.
The Wyoming Business Council unveiled this week the Grown in Wyoming program, which promotes all types of agriculture, food and fiber raised and produced in the state. The program seeks to connect farmers and ranchers with wholesale and retail consumers.
Members will have full use of the program’s logo and promotional material, in addition to an online marketing tool, targeted toward consumers, that maps the location of local growers and the outlets selling those products.
Grown in Wyoming is still in the early stages. Business Council officials are currently identifying interested producers at events like farmers markets. Restaurants and retailers will be approached in later phases.
“People want to know where their food is coming from. Ag is a valuable part of Wyoming’s economy, and it’s an industry that can be responsive to national trends like sustainability sourced and ethically grown food.” said Briana Tanaka, agriculture and international trade coordinator for the Business Council. “With the education and awareness raised by this program, we expect to generate more demand for Wyoming-grown products.”
Grown in Wyoming is based in part on the successful, decades-old Made in Wyoming program, which is also being revamped this summer.
Chief among the program’s new features will be a website created to improve the membership experience. Members will be able to renew their membership, purchase new promotional materials and find retail locations with Wyoming-made products for sale. The new online presence will provide even greater exposure to potential retail and wholesale customers.
“This is going to make the program quicker and more convenient for our members, and we can’t wait to show off the new site,” said Terri Barr, Made in Wyoming program manager.
Made in Wyoming boasts about 300 members who also receive perks like selling their products at the Wyoming Mercantile during the Wyoming State Fair and Rodeo in Douglas and space in Denver Mart, the region’s premier wholesale marketing facility.
The Mercantile helps members generate an average of $20,000 in sales annually.
The Mercantile is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Aug. 14-19. The store closes at 6 p.m. on Aug. 20. The Mercantile is open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Aug. 21, its final day.
Everything from tack and food to jewelry and home décor from more than 60 members will be for sale.
“Without the Wyoming Business Council staff and the continued support of our legislators, Wyoming small manufacturing businesses would be out on the windy prairies alone,” said Jeff Sawyer, owner of Buffalo-based Wahoo Frontier Toppings and a Made in Wyoming member.
Both programs aim to open new markets for Wyoming small businesses not just regionally but internationally.
The Business Council recently received a $158,000 State Trade and Expansion Program (STEP) grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration. The federally-funded initiative aims to introduce business owners to exporting so they can expand into new markets and increase foreign direct investment in the state.
The money has been used to provide interested companies free webinars about exporting. The grant will also fund the International Trade Show Incentive Grant from the Business Council. This grant provides participating businesses up to $3,500 in reimbursements for travel to international expos where companies can increase their market exposure and boost sales.
Business Council officials have arranged trade missions to Mexico and Canada specifically to help company executives boost export sales by holding personal meetings with international buyers.
Wyoming businesses sold $1.1 billion in exports in 2016, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Exports feature prominently in the Business Council’s strategy to grow Wyoming’s economy. The agency intends to double foreign direct investment and increase the state’s exports by 50 percent by 2026.
The Business Council will accomplish those goals, in part, through small business assistance programs like Grown in Wyoming and Made in Wyoming, along with trade show incentive grants and foreign trade efforts like those planned under the STEP.
For more information about the STEP grant, visit http://www.wyomingbusiness.org/STEP.
Growers, producers, retailers and restaurateurs interested in the Grown in Wyoming program can call Tanaka at 307-777-6430 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Manufacturers interested in the Made in Wyoming program can call Barr at 307-777-2807, or email her at email@example.com.
About the Wyoming Business Council: Our mission is to increase Wyoming’s prosperity. We envision a Wyoming where industries are strong, diverse and expanding. Small business is a big deal. Communities have the highest quality of life. Wyoming is the technology center of the High Plains. Wyoming knows no boundaries. Please go to www.wyomingbusiness.org for more information.