EDITORIAL: A new chapter for economic development

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After operating as close partners for several years, the Powell Valley Chamber of Commerce and Powell Economic Partnership joined forces in a new model this week. The two organizations will now operate under one roof, though they are remaining separate entities.

PEP started managing the chamber’s operations this week. We’re glad this decision was based on public input and work sessions.

The consolidation of PEP and chamber services is a new model for Powell, and we’re hopeful it will benefit the community, both by attracting new ventures to our area and keeping existing businesses strong.

With the addition of a visitor center coordinator at the chamber, the goal is to attract more folks to Powell — to shop at our stores, eat at local restaurants and stay overnight here. With Yellowstone National Park to the west, the Big Horns to the east and other beautiful sites in every direction, Powell is poised to draw more visitors to our town.

We know firsthand that it’s not an easy time to be a local business on Main Street in a rural town.

With the ever-increasing competition of online companies, local retailers struggle to attract customers to their stores. The simplicity of shopping online has caused major headaches for small-town business owners. In addition, Wyoming has faced an economic downturn, adding to the struggles for locally owned businesses.

Unfortunately, several local shops have closed their doors in recent years, leaving empty storefronts dotting our downtown.

But rather than just bemoaning the economic climate or worrying about the threat of giant online retailers, Powell must find a way to keep our business community vibrant and healthy.

That’s the charge given to the Powell Economic Partnership and Powell Valley Chamber of Commerce. While it’s certainly not an easy task, we know work is underway to encourage more economic development here. We also encourage local leaders to continue looking for ways to help existing businesses thrive.

In order for our local economy to truly succeed, it’s not just up to PEP or the chamber — it’s up to each of us who live here.

By going to local businesses when you buy your groceries, shop for birthday gifts, upgrade your vehicle or get a dental check-up, you’re supporting Powell. If you have other ideas for making our community a better place, now is as good a time as any to speak up. Share your ideas, concerns and hopes with PEP and chamber leaders as they move forward.

If we want to see a bustling downtown, healthy businesses and a growing local economy, we must all do our part.

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