Winners of 2019 Cybersecurity Competition for Small Businesses announced at recent symposium

Top winners of the 2019 Cybersecurity Competition for Small Businesses were announced at the Wyoming Cybersecurity Symposium in Cheyenne on Oct. 23.

The competition was developed to encourage Wyoming small businesses to meet best practices in cybersecurity through a homegrown program called Made Safe in Wyoming. The competition was the brain child of CyberWyoming and came into being through a partnership with the Wyoming Business Report. The competition, to date, has gained national and international attention being the only of its kind.

The participating companies were judged on five general categories: Presentation, thoroughness, technical expertise, planning and “Look How Far They Have Come.” The company reports submitted to the judges were anonymous, and there was a strict separation of duties from CyberWyoming, which ran the companies through the process and the judging committee.

First place winner was First Northern Bank of Wyoming, headquartered in Buffalo. Second place was deemed a tie by the judges, and both companies happened to reside in Laramie and be nonprofit organizations. The second place tie was awarded to the Laramie Historic Railroad Depot and Laramie Reproductive Health Clinic.

Other companies that committed to the competition process were Peregrine Academics of Gillette, Craftco Manufacturing of Sheridan, Wyoming Wind Counseling of Torrington, Cottonwood Kitchen of Sheridan and Double D Realty of Torrington. To date, 23 companies have participated in the Made Safe in Wyoming checklist process in some form, whether in the competition or separately.

“We were excited to help highlight the great work being done by small Wyoming businesses to become more cyber-secure,” said Roger Plothow, president of APG Signature Events, which produced the conference for the Wyoming Business Report. APG-SE is owned by the Adams Publishing Group, which also owns daily newspapers in Cheyenne, Laramie, Rawlins and Rock Springs.

Federal funding announced for Sheridan-based Ramaco Carbon to advance “coal to products”

The U.S. Department of Energy recently announced Sheridan-based Ramaco Carbon is the recipient of millions in new federal grants to support the creation of high-value alternative uses for coal in developing both advanced carbon products and advanced materials.

Ramaco Carbon is the recipient or a sub-recipient on four cost-shared research and development grants from the DOE, totaling more than $5 million. These include two grants on which Ramaco is the recipient – with total funding of more than $2 million – and two on which it has partnered with outside organizations and is the sub-recipient.

“We are excited about the transformative potential of these projects. Advancing this coal R&D is paving the way for future technology innovation and integration,” Steven Winberg, Department of Energy Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy, said in a news release.

“This research has potentially far-reaching national economic and strategic implications. We are deeply appreciative of both the Department of Energy and the participating National Laboratories for the vote of confidence in our contributions to these research efforts,” Ramaco Carbon’s Chairman and CEO Randall Atkins said in the release.

Atkins continued, “In the end, the goal is to focus federally-funded research toward creating both new advanced carbon products and advanced materials which can all be developed from our nation’s most abundant natural resource: coal. We hope that this can lead to both a brighter future for the wider coal industry and perhaps even help establish Sheridan, Wyoming, as the Carbon Valley nexus for this cutting-edge research.”

On its lead grants, Ramaco is partnered with TerraPower – a nuclear innovation company based in Bellevue, Washington, whose chairman is Microsoft founder Bill Gates – on a grant to create a manufacturing process for transforming coal to carbon fiber. Ramaco is also partnered with Axens of Princeton, New Jersey – a global provider of refining technology – on a grant for producing pitch from coal for production of carbon fibers.

The company is also in its second year as the coal industry partner on a separate $5 million DOE-funded grant project, led by Wyoming’s Western Research Institute nicknamed “Coal to Cars.” The project is aimed at using coal as a precursor to lower the cost of manufacturing carbon fiber for use in the automotive industry.

Powell Economic Partnership funded to expand AmeriCorps VISTA Program to help nonprofits

Powell Economic Partnership (PEP) was awarded a grant to continue and expand its current AmeriCorps VISTA Program to help nonprofits in the area increase their capacity to serve their communities.

The grant award has a value of approximately $240,000 for one year starting September 2019. The grant expands PEP’s role in the program from a single site supervising two VISTA members to an intermediary supervisory role coordinating the recruitment and management of up to nine VISTA members and one VISTA leader position among eight sub-sites in Park and Big Horn counties.

The VISTA, or Volunteers in Service to America Program, was modeled after the Peace Corps Program in 1962 by President John F. Kennedy in an effort to assist Americans living in poverty. Since 1965, more than 220,000 VISTA members have served at sites in all 50 states, in tribal, rural, urban and suburban contexts, supporting activities to eliminate poverty.

The main tenants of the VISTA Program focus on supporting both current and new programs that address poverty at the local level, by increasing the capacity of organizations and communities. The AmeriCorps VISTA grant supports one of PEP’s strategic priorities to champion community vibrancy and the foundations for progress, especially by elevating the capacity of its partners.

BBB announces 14 candidates from NoCo and Wyoming for 2020 BBB Torch Awards for Ethics

Eleven businesses and three nonprofits from Northern Colorado and Wyoming have been named candidates for the 2020 Better Business Bureau Torch Awards for Ethics, presented for the 22nd year locally by the BBB Serving Northern Colorado and Wyoming Foundation.

The two business nominees from Wyoming are Handel Information Technologies and Tough Guy’s Lawn Care, both from Laramie.

Organizations were nominated by peers, colleagues and customers during the spring and summer of 2019. Interested nominees then completed a short candidate questionnaire to gather background information on the business and their commitment to ethics. Nominees who submitted questionnaires were then vetted by the BBB staff to determine eligibility for the Torch Award for Ethics.

Eligible organizations were then reviewed by an independent selection committee, which evaluated the candidate questionnaires and selected this year’s class of Torch Award for Ethics candidates. Selected organizations were then offered the opportunity to move on to the next, more rigorous phase of the competition.

Award winners will be selected in December by an independent panel of judges comprised of BBB board members, past Torch Award winners and community leaders. Winning organizations will receive their award at the 2020 BBB Torch Awards for Ethics celebration, a luncheon event will be from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday, April 23, at the Embassy Suites in Loveland, Colorado.

Corporate sponsorship opportunities including table sponsorships are available. If you are interested in supporting one of Northern Colorado and Wyoming’s premier business ethics awards, contact Jami Jonckowski-Wiens at 970-488-2048 or

Kemmerer receives federal grant to assist with economic diversification efforts

Gov. Mark Gordon announced recently that the U.S. Economic Development Administration has awarded the city of Kemmerer $138,950 in grant funding to support redevelopment and revitalization.

The grant will pay half the cost of developing a detailed economic diversification strategy and hiring an impact manager for a two-year period to implement the plan, according to a news release from the governor’s office. It will help Kemmerer and Lincoln County prepare, strengthen and diversify its economy in anticipation of the likely upcoming retirement of the Naughton No. 1 and No. 2 coal-fired power plants.

Kemmerer partnered with Rocky Mountain Power, the Wyoming Business Council, the South Lincoln Economic Development Corporation, the Lincoln County Economic Development Joint Powers Board and Lincoln County to provide the match for the grant.

The diversification study will explore target industries, tourism opportunities and quality-of-life initiatives to identify specific tasks and achievable goals for Kemmerer to pursue. After the study is complete, Kemmerer will hire an impact manager to carry out the plan.

UW’s Wyoming SBDC Network receives full accreditation through December 2024

After a rigorous review process, the Wyoming Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Network, based at the University of Wyoming, has received national accreditation through December 2024.

The America’s SBDC Accreditation Committee voted to fully accredit the Wyoming SBDC Network with commendation and no conditions during a semiannual meeting in Long Beach, California. The committee also granted technology accreditation to the Wyoming SBDC Network, recognizing the assistance provided to Wyoming entrepreneurs who are researching, developing and selling technology-related products or services. Only a handful of the nearly 1,000 SBDC locations nationwide are credentialed in technology, according to a news release from UW.

The extensive accreditation process is one of the reasons why the U.S. Government Accountability Office recently named the national SBDC program as the best practice among all 52 federal entrepreneurial assistance programs.

“I am thrilled that our organization has once again been fully accredited in both business services and technology assistance,” Jill Kline, state director for the Wyoming SBDC Network, said in the release. “This reaffirms our staff’s advanced knowledge, relevant experience and commitment to helping Wyoming’s entrepreneurs succeed.”

Entrepreneurs anywhere in Wyoming who are looking to start, grow or exit their businesses can receive no-cost assistance with marketing, bookkeeping, obtaining funding, product development, government contracting, international trade, pitch development and management strategies. For more information, go to

U.S. Small Business Admin. lending surpasses $46M in Wyo., 28% hike from FY18

U.S. Small Business Administration lending, both nationally and in Wyoming, continued to gain momentum during fiscal year 2019 – the period from Oct. 1, 2018, to Sept. 30, 2019.

Nationally, the agency approved 63,539 7(a), 504 and microloans loans worth $31.3 billion. In Wyoming, the SBA approved 101 loans worth $46.82 million – a 28.6% increase in dollar amount from FY18.

A strong economy is powering America’s 30 million small businesses, and the SBA’s FY 19 numbers bear that out, according to a news release. When the economy is doing well, 7(a) lenders are more willing to provide capital without the need for a federal loan guarantee. SBA’s 504 and microloan programs continued to grow from last year, as all of these loans are designed to create jobs and grow all small businesses in communities across the country.

The 504 program – the SBA’s largest loan program, with loan amounts up to $5.5 million – saw an increase of 70% in loan volume (from 10 to 17) and a 132.2% increase in dollar amount (from $4.14 million to $9.6 million) in Wyoming.

UW’s Wyoming Supplier Fair draws more than 30 suppliers representing nine industries

More than 30 suppliers representing nine different industries connected with units of the University of Wyoming during UW’s inaugural Wyoming Supplier Fair on Oct. 15.

The event is part of UW’s BUY-WY initiative, which formalizes the university’s commitment to support Wyoming’s economy by encouraging university employees to purchase from Wyoming suppliers.

Companies and other entities participating came from fields ranging from information technology and engineering to printing, screen printing, advertising and employment services. Several suppliers reconnected with existing customers on campus while, at the same time, making new connections with campus departments that may not have been aware of their products and services.

UW plans to make the Wyoming Supplier Fair an annual event.

Recipients selected for this year’s Wyoming Business Hall of Fame Award during governor’s forum

Neil A. “Mick” McMurry, Howard Woody and Kelly Lockhart were inducted into the Wyoming Business Hall of Fame during a Nov. 13 banquet at the 2019 Governor’s Business Forum.

Created in 2013, the Wyoming Business Hall of Fame recognizes business and industry leaders who have demonstrated substantial business merit while making a virtuous impact on their community. The Wyoming Business Hall of Fame is a cooperative project of the Wyoming Business Alliance/Wyoming Heritage Foundation, the Daniels Fund, the University of Wyoming College of Business and the Wyoming Business Council.

The late McMurry of Casper, and Woody of Mountain View, were selected for the Legacy category, which recognizes individuals for making historic and significant long-term contributions to the business community. Lockhart of Jackson, was selected for the Contemporary/Visionary category, which recognizes an individual who is an up-and-coming emerging businessperson or entrepreneur who has a vision for Wyoming’s future.

“The 2019 Hall of Fame inductees truly embody business excellence in financial, telecommunications, agriculture and mining industries in Wyoming,” said Gov. Mark Gordon. “They also stand out for their unwavering dedication to improving the lives of others.”

The two-day Governor’s Business Forum was held at Little America Hotel and Resort in Cheyenne.

Jackson Hole Airport awarded Large Business of the Year by Chamber of Commerce

The Jackson Hole Airport was awarded the Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce’s Large Business of the Year Award on Oct. 25 at the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar.

Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce recognized individuals and businesses in the community that contributed leadership and vision in 2019 and made a lasting impact on Jackson Hole.

The Jackson Hole Airport and the Airport Board have taken significant steps to be leaders in the community in environmental stewardship, and providing exceptional customer service to locals and visitors traveling through the airport, according to a news release.

Some of their accomplishments this year have included a commitment to 100% green energy through Energy Conservation Works; receiving BEST Certification through the River Wind Foundation; completion of a stormwater filtration system; and being recognized as the Best Tiny Airport in the world by Fodor’s.

Three Wyoming Technology Business Center Sheridan Start-Up Challenge winners announced

Three businesses were named winners of the 2019 Sheridan Start-Up Challenge on Oct. 29.

Sheridan’s Wyoming Technology Business Center (WTBC) received 39 applications for this year’s Start-Up Challenge. The WTBC is administered by the University of Wyoming Office of Research and Economic Development. It is a not-for-profit business incubator system that provides startup and early-stage companies with the expertise, networks and tools necessary for the development of successful businesses.

Five finalists for this year’s challenge pitched their business ideas before a judging panel and the community at the WYO Theater in Sheridan. The three winners were announced at a reception following the presentations.

Winning proposals, listed by owners and hometowns, are:

MuscleShok, founded by Lisa Durgin amd Sharon Jones of Gillette, is a professionally designed line of muscle pain relief gels and bath soak solutions developed for performance athletes.

Piney Island Native Plants, founded by Alisha Bretzman from Story, will be a nursery providing locally adapted native plant material for use in Wyoming reclamation and habitat restoration projects.

Purpose Physical Therapy, founded by Marta Ostler of Dayton, will be a mobile delivery of physical therapy and skin rehabilitation services to underserved rural patients in the Sheridan region.

Each of the winners will receive $5,000 and pro bono legal advice from Davis & Cannon of Sheridan. The three winning companies also will be eligible to apply for additional funding through a $50,000 seed fund established for the event. Piney Island Native Plants was named the winner of the $1,000 audience choice award.


n The Wyoming Business Council has hired Marcio Paes-Barreto as its new South-Central Regional Director. Paes-Barreto lives in Lander. He has a background in industrial engineering and is originally from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He started a mountain bike manufacturing business while in college. After a successful spinoff, he founded one of the first computer graphics companies in Brazil, Pixel Computer Graphics. His clients included L’Oreal, Texaco, Nabisco, Fleischmann Royal, Sony Music, Rio de Janeiro State Government, Brazil Federal Government and Bowne & Co. He is an accomplished entrepreneur in both the United States and Brazil, with 11 years of experience as an instructor and program coordinator for the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS). For the last three years, he has served as the school’s business operations manager, developing the organization’s growth strategy and managing relationships with more than 300 business partners worldwide. Previously, Paes-Barreto was responsible for business development and consulting services for Bowne Global Solutions, as well as advertising and e-commerce sales as a regional director for Terra Networks. Paes-Barreto will deliver the Business Council’s suite of services to companies in Fremont and Sweetwater counties.

n The Wyoming Small Business Development Center Network named Steen Stovall as the new regional director for Converse, Natrona, Niobrara and Platte counties. Stovall will assist entrepreneurs in his region with all aspects of starting, growing or even selling a business. He also offers his advanced expertise in second-stage business strategies, capital acquisition and business operations/development to entrepreneurs throughout the state. The Wyoming SBDC Network, located at the University of Wyoming, offers no-cost, confidential advising and technical assistance to small businesses in every industry throughout the entire state.

n Wyoming Food Bank of the Rockies, based in Casper, recently announced the hiring of Tony Woodell as its new director. Woodell, raised in Casper, brings more than 30 years of experience in nonprofit management. He is transitioning back to Casper from Cheyenne after many years in Arkansas. Woodell will be directing development, operations, programs and administration. In addition, he will be working with communities throughout the state to determine the best way to address hunger and food insecurity, and represent Wyoming Food Bank of the Rockies across the state.

n National States Geographic Information Council (NSGIC) recently announced that Wyoming’s Karen Rogers is moving from president-elect to the new president of NSGIC. Rogers is a habitat protection analyst for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. She got her start in GIS as an archaeologist with the Pinedale BLM 20 years ago. As a certified GIS professional, she currently serves as the president of WyGEO and has been on the Board of Directors of NSGIC for the last five years.

n Arete Design Group was recently recognized as one of the “Best Entrepreneurial Companies in America” by Entrepreneur magazine’s Entrepreneur360 ranking. The Sheridan-based architecture firm was recognized as a well-rounded company that has mastered a balance of impact, innovation, growth leadership and value. Arete Design Group, formerly Dale Buckingham Architects, strives to create trust and build relationships with clients, design professionals and builders to provide quality, no-nonsense architectural solutions through honest communication and hard work, according to a news release.

n A Cheyenne auto dealer has been nominated for the 2020 TIME Dealer of the Year award, a prestigious national award for auto dealers who stand out in their community, according to a news release. This nomination recognizes Brian Tyrrell, president of Tyrrell Chevrolet Company in Cheyenne, as one of the nation’s most successful auto dealers, who also demonstrates a long-standing commitment to community service. Tyrrell is one of 49 dealer nominees from across the country who will be honored at the 103rd annual National Automobile Dealers Association Show on Feb. 15 in Las Vegas. The TIME Dealer of the Year award is one of the automobile industry’s most prestigious and highly coveted honors. Tyrrell was chosen to represent the Wyoming Automobile Dealers Association in the national competition – one of only 49 auto dealers nominated for the 51st annual award from more than 16,000 nationwide. The award is presented by TIME in partnership with Ally Financial.

n Greater Cheyenne Chamber of Commerce Vice President Stephanie Meisner-Maggard completed the national Talent Pipeline Management certification on Oct. 25 in Washington, D.C. The certification identifies Meisner-Maggard as a U.S. Chamber of Commerce TPM Practitioner, which allows the Cheyenne Chamber to administer the program across Wyoming. TPM practitioners introduce workforce solutions to assist businesses facing labor market challenges. The TPM program was piloted in Laramie County, and, after Meisner-Maggard’s recent certification, can now be expanded across the state. Wyoming is just one of 28 states containing a certified TPM practitioner. Each practitioner utilizes the program’s data-driven process to centralize resources and align labor market efforts. Information gathered is then used to examine areas of improvement and develop long-term workforce solutions. The program requires participation by policymakers, employers, government entities and educational institutions.

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