Rep. Lockhart Believes Fine-tuning Needed on Business Ready

Casper, WY – A state lawmaker thinks the legislature might have tied the hands of the Wyoming Business Council, in terms of how it considers some economic development proposals. Representative Tom Lockhart is the Chairman of the House Minerals, Business, and Economic Development Committee, which is considering changes to the Business Ready Community program. Lockhart thinks the Business Council believes if a project merely meets the program's criteria, then it has to be approved. Lockhart says the intention was to utilize the expertise of the Business Council to evaluate projects. Whether those discussions actually showed up in the statute is what seems to be in question. Lockhart says the committee has directed the Legislative Service Office to review the statute. Then if they don't have it now, Lockhart wants to give the Business Council the ability to prioritize what projects can do the most for economic development. Lawmakers created the Business Ready Community Program in 2003, and the Business Council has already approved 45-million dollars worth of grants. Lockhart believes the program is providing communities with a tool they didn't have before, but he thinks some fine-tuning is now needed.