Gordon Announces New Head of the Wyoming Innovation Partnership
Governor Mark Gordon announced in a press release that Lauren Schoenfeld will serve as the Executive Director of the Wyoming Innovation Partnership (WIP).
Gordon launched WIP last Novemeber as a way to "diversify and grow Wyoming’s economy and workforce," and used $27 million in initial funding from the American Rescue Plan to get off the ground.
According to WIPs website, while the ARPA money was used as its seed funding to start with, it will be "exploring alternative funding sources as part of its sustainability planning," though it is unclear at this time where that funding will come from.
WIP is split into three phases, with the first one going from now until June 2023, the second phase going from July 2023 to June 2024, and final phase going from July 2024 to 'beyond.'
The WIP includes various colleges across the state, the Department of Workforce Services, the Wyoming Business Council, and the Governor’s Office.
Gordon said in the release:
"I am pleased to have Lauren join our staff as the Executive Direct for the WIP initiative," Gordon said. "Her experience in organizational management and knowledge of Wyoming are assets that will help her skillfully coordinate a wide array of stakeholders and move the state ahead."
Steve Farkas, Assistant Dean at the University of Wyoming's College of Business MBA Program, originally served as executive director for the WIP
The Wyoming Legislature created and funded the position for two years, and in an executive summary of the WIP, phases two and three of the project will require an estimated $100 million.
That money will be spent on a variety of iniatives including $16 million for workforce development, $27 million for activating new economic sectors, and $14 million to the University of Wyoming's Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (CEI).
Over the summer, the CEI offered an Entrepreneur Essentials course, as part of the WIP, which helped students "to effectively launch or grow their businesses," though it is unclear how many students participated or how successful the most recent course was.
Schoenfeld has served as the executive director for the YMCA of Sweetwater County, the Organizational Change Management Lead for J.R. Simplot, and has been on the Sweetwater County Board of Commissioners since 2019.
Schoenfeld said in the release:
"I am very excited to join Governor Gordon’s team and look forward to collaborating across the state to continue to develop and support Wyoming’s workforce and economy."