Green River Star -

Our View: Don't make it SWEDA

 

April 25, 2019



We have some concerns about the proposal to form a Sweetwater Economic Development Coalition board.

Last week, Sweetwater County Commissioner Randy Wendling spoke about an idea to form an SEDC board to separate the organization’s activities from of the Rock Springs Chamber of Commerce. As was noted by Sweetwater County Commissioner Wally Johnson, this is essentially what the Sweetwater Economic Development Agency (SWEDA) was. That organization no longer exists.

SWEDA was a county-wide organization geared toward economic development during 2000s and was instrumental in bringing workers from Michigan to the area during the oil and gas boom in southwestern Wyoming. After a change in leadership, the organization slowly fell apart and became defunct. Its end was punctuated by a lawsuit.

For Green River, one of greatest criticisms that could be levied against SWEDA was its apparent focus on Rock Springs over anything else. A grocery store study conducted by the organization claimed the city has multiple grocery stores within its limits and several more than anyone would have guessed within the county. This study was used as proof for why Green River could not support a second grocery store. However, the study considered convenience stores the same as a full grocery store. For some, the idea that SWEDA focused more on Rock Springs is shown in how much Rock Springs grew in during the 2000s compared to Green River, despite the county seat only being 15 miles from Rock Springs.

Of course, Green River being landlocked is offered as part of the reason for this, but there were several areas where development could occur.

We’re not too concerned with the SEDC’s current form and we understand the current philosophy of any economic development in Sweetwater County is development everyone will benefit from. We also realize economic development isn’t a simple activity, but a long-term idea needing to be continually addressed and supported. However, vacant spaces along Flaming Gorge Way and other areas of Green River need to be filled.

Should this idea come to fruition, we hope the SEDC avoids SWEDA’s fate. Part of SWEDA’s downfall was due to its leadership at the end and we believe the SEDC has leadership committed to the cause and to supporting economic development throughout the county, including Green River. But, that always can change and a changed focus for SEDC could negatively impact Green River in the future.

 

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