CHEYENNE – After finding success in partnerships like Summertime on the Streets and the Old West Holiday, the county’s four economic development agencies have decided to come together and create a more consolidated vision for the tourism industry in Cheyenne and Laramie County.
During a meeting Tuesday afternoon, stakeholders from the community, as well as former Visit Cheyenne CEO Darren Rudloff, came together to kick off the Laramie County Tourism Master Plan. Through his new company, Rudloff Solutions, Rudloff will be leading the charge through Phase 1 of the plan, which is slated to end in early May.
Visit Cheyenne CEO Domenic Bravo said the groups hope to have the plan finalized by the first week in June.
“This will allow us to know what the priorities are for the community for the next 10 years, and will help keep moving us forward, all under that tourism umbrella,” Bravo said. “This isn’t one of those things where the plan just sits on a shelf.”
Instead of “reinventing the wheel,” as Bravo said, Rudloff will gather information from each agency’s strategic plan, which includes Visit Cheyenne, the Cheyenne Downtown Development Authority, the Greater Cheyenne Chamber of Commerce and Cheyenne LEADS. Rudloff will also take a range of other plans into account, including the Belvoir Ranch and Big Hole master plan, the Cheyenne annual business plan, the Pine Bluffs Rural Development Council plan and the Reed Avenue Corridor master plan.
“A lot of people have put a lot of horsepower behind all these plans,” Bravo said. “It’d be crazy of us to go through a whole new planning process, because a lot of the things already in there just need to be honed in on and have some meat put on the bones, so we can start making them more actionable.”
To help determine those actionable items, the project team will also dive into visitor data collected by Visit Cheyenne, and University of Wyoming students in the Recreation and Tourism degree program will help Rudloff decipher what that information really means. Additionally, a steering committee was put together with stakeholders who Bravo said “aren’t always in the room together,” but who will work together to oversee the development of the master plan.
The hope is that the work done bringing the plans and data together will pay off in the long run for building a more vibrant tourism industry in town.
“A master plan for a community is kind of like a strategic plan on steroids,” Rudloff said. “It’s not for an organization, it’s not for a Visit Cheyenne; it’s for all of Laramie County. The goal is to create a shared vision and some strategic objectives that the community feels are important for the development of the travel and tourism industry.”
During Phase 1, Rudloff and the UW students will identify the common themes and strategic issues that the tourism industry is facing. Those topics could be obstacles for the industry, major issues it faces or any opportunities for improvement, and the students will help identify the top eight to 10 strategic problems. Dozens of interviews with stakeholders will also be carried out in the research process.
Phase 2 involves identifying the major pillars or themes the economic development agencies need to work on improving, which will be summed up in the final plan and presented to the “steering committee.”
“We’re trying to create a framework for future cooperation with the public and private sectors, a framework for future development (and) a framework for future promotions,” Rudloff said.