Shawn Reese announced his resignation today as Wyoming Business Council (WBC) chief executive officer. Reese did not set a specific date for the end of his tenure as head of the state of Wyoming’s economic development agency but said it will be by the end of the year.
The Cheyenne native and University of Wyoming graduate plans to prioritize time with his family, who has recently moved to Laramie. His wife, Amiee, is newly employed with the UW Foundation as a director of development.
Reese rejoined the WBC in June 2014 as CEO after serving as former Governor Matt Mead’s policy director for 3 ½ years. He said this is the opportune time for change personally, and at the agency’s CEO level.
“The Wyoming Business Council has never been more ready to take it to the next level,” he said.
"Shawn and I have worked together since my time as treasurer and I have always appreciated his steadfast leadership," Governor Mark Gordon said. The Governor is a non-voting co-chairman of the Board. "His work at the Business Council, particularly in reforming the Industrial Development Bonds program and establishing the Economic Development Large Project Program, has been terrific. We appreciate his contributions to Wyoming and eagerly await his next step."
“Wyoming’s greatest resource in economic development may be our people,” WBC Board Co-Chairwoman Megan Goetz, of Laramie, said. “Shawn has been the ultimate model of this resource through his steadfast consistency, loyalty and dedication to the Wyoming Business Council for 15 years. We are so appreciative of the efforts led by Shawn at the WBC and wish him all the best in his new ventures.
“The future is very bright, thanks to Shawn.”
Reese twice held leadership roles during critical moments in the WBC’s 21-year history.
From 2003-11, Reese managed the WBC’s Investment Ready Communities Division. In 2003, he developed the Business Ready Community Grant and Loan program for publicly owned infrastructure in response to feedback from existing Wyoming businesses and potential business recruitment targets that the state lacked the infrastructure necessary for expansion and recruitment.
The program made possible projects that created business parks, expanded rail access, enhanced quality of life in communities across the state, and laid the infrastructure for growth in the data center and technology industries – including the NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputer and Microsoft data center campus in Cheyenne, and the UL software development and support services campus in Laramie’s WBC-funded Cirrus Sky Technology Park.
The correlation between Reese’s work during his first and second tenures with the WBC may be best typified by the burgeoning technology and manufacturing industries in Sheridan.
In 2010, the WBC awarded the city of Sheridan a $2,589,913 Business Ready Community grant toward construction of the 38-acre Sheridan Hi Tech Park. The project included $1,537,111 in local matching funds.
In January 2018, on a WBC Facebook Live broadcast from the SHOT Show in Las Vegas, iconic firearms manufacturer Weatherby, Inc., announced the relocation of its headquarters and manufacturing/distribution from Paso Robles, California, to the Hi Tech Park.
This past spring, Weatherby joined industrial vacuum manufacturer Vacutech and Ptolemy Data Systems in the park. Sheridan-based high-value equipment protection manufacturing company Kennon Products will soon accompany them.
Sheridan is also a member of the Wyoming Main Street program, which is housed in the WBC and is a critical component of the agency’s community development and workforce attraction efforts. In 2015, Rawlins became the first community in the northern Rocky Mountain region to win the National Main Street Center’s (NMSC) Great American Main Street Award. Rock Springs followed suit in 2018. Evanston was a semifinalist this year. In 2016, Laramie Main Street won a NMSC Innovator award for its mural project.
“Shawn has done a great job in leading the WBC since 2014 with continued focus on organizational improvement and building a great team to serve the needs of Wyoming’s economic development community,” WBC Board Vice-Chairman Mike Easley, of Sundance, said. “The WBC team is highly committed and very competent, a true testament to Shawn’s leadership.
“We will miss Shawn while at the same time we look forward to building on his legacy to take the WBC to the next level.”
In recent months, Reese collaborated with the WBC staff and Board, stakeholders and industry to develop a strategic refresh designed to add value to Wyoming’s core industries (energy, agriculture and tourism/outdoor recreation) and activate new industries.
“I offer my sincerest thanks to the wonderful, hardest-working, and most dedicated staff I could ever have hoped for,” Reese said. “I am grateful to Governors Mead and Gordon and the Wyoming Business Council Board of Directors for allowing me to steer this big and important ship. We have done great things. Thank you to all the friends and partners from across the state who have guided me along the way.”
Board Co-Chair Goetz said she has talked with Governor Gordon and the two will work with the Board to develop a process for hiring a new CEO, including the establishment of a search committee.