"Our biggest success this past year," says Karl Hertz, member of The Enterprise Board of Directors, "was the blending together of entities — CANDO, the Chamber of Commerce, the visitors center and Main Street Douglas."
Karl says, "I think that was a bigger project than we originally envisioned, the combining of multiple boards and multiple budgets. Prior to the change there were a lot of parallel programs." At the time of the union Karl was serving on both the CANDO Board of Directors and the Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. The overarching objective — to improve Douglas — was replicated between entities in this scenario and others.
"It has come together nicely and it's serving as a model for other communities around the state," says Tim Pexton who was chair of CANDO and now chairs The Enterprise Board of Directors. For the year ahead Tim says his goals are to increase the membership, get all board members actively involved and review the funding structure behind The Enterprise, helping ensure it's viable long-term.
Shrinking budgets, says Executive Director Cindy Porter, resulted in the need to implement what had been a lingering idea to unify multiple entities in the community. "We've made our community more efficient and we're better able to serve our consumers."
CANDO's economic development goals, as one example, are very much in line with Douglas Main Street's efforts to continually improve the downtown area. "Show me your downtown," is something Cindy says is a frequent request from those considering to relocate a business to a community. "Your downtown is indicative of your overall economic health, your temperature if you will." That's why The Enterprise is part of efforts to develop a pocket park and to seek businesses to fill currently vacant buildings. Big picture, Cindy says the downtown area has seen the addition of many new businesses. It's a trend she hopes that The Enterprise team can help perpetuate.
Beyond economic development, The Enterprise is playing a leading role in the community's quest toward economic growth and citizen involvement. Cindy has been helping the local Rotary group develop a new strategic plan. Her office is a resource for entrepreneurs considering a business launch, or businesses in need of help with planning or a transition. From writing a business plan to funding models, The Enterprise has resources for local businesses and those considering a move to the area.
The Enterprise's 15-member board is currently full. Beyond serving on the main board, members are encouraged to serve on one of a variety of committees that meet monthly. It's also worth noting that you don't have to be a board member to serve on a committee. Several individuals from around the community are volunteering to serve on various committees on subjects where they have an interest.
"I think we'll now have a better organization," says Karl. With much of the organizational work behind them, Karl, Cindy and Tim say they can wholly focus on all that they believe The Enterprise can accomplish on the county's behalf.
When asked about The Enterprise's value to the community, Karl says, "Without The Enterprise, who would answer questions for small businesses, gather information on small business loans, pursue the Wyoming Business Council grants and offer other programs in our community. If The Enterprise isn't recruiting new businesses, bringing more people into our community for special events and carrying out beautification projects, I'm not sure who will."