A decade of success

Former CCEDC Director Cindy Wallace reflects on accomplishments, prepares for time with family

 

October 23, 2019



Cindy Wallace has been the Carbon County Economic Corporation Director for over a decade. Although she is sad to be leaving Carbon County, she is moving to Kanas to be closer to her family.

“I was raised near the town of Larned in south central Kansas on a farm,” Wallace said. “I was in 4-H and showed horses and raised beef like any good farm girl.”

Wallace finished high school and went to Ft. Hayes State University at first, but switched to Kansas State University where she graduated with a B.S. degree in human ecology/fashion marketing.

“I thought at one time I wanted to own a clothing store,” Wallace laughed. “I worked in various retail establishments for a little bit and then got married.”

She had two sons and while raising them, she went into travel consulting for a number of years.

“That is what they called it back in the 80’s” Wallace said. “I did travel arrangements for a lot of corporate clients and found myself being asked if I wanted to help start up a travel/ tourism department at the business college in Hutchinson.”


“We had sessions on cruises and how to book them, airline computers, travel industry, hotel management and even how to get jobs,” Wallace explained.

From this experience, she got a job back in Larned where the town was combining an economic development department with the chamber of commerce. Wallace became director and stayed there for 14 years.

“I ran the chamber of commerce for Larned and Pawnee County Economic Development as well running the tourism bureau for the area,” Wallace said. “I would not have left, but divorce had me have to look for another place. I moved back to Hutchison and became the city’s convention/tourism director.”

Wallace said although she liked tourism, she missed economic development, so she first took the job of economic development director in Trego County and later Russell County in Kansas.

“My contract was for two years and I found myself looking for a place a little different to consider,” Wallace said. “My brother lived in Casper and I had been in Wyoming to visit him, so I just took a look around on what was available around the state.”

She saw a job for Carbon County Economic Development Corporation Director and decided to apply. This was 2009.

“I came out and they took me on a tour for the day,” Wallace said. “The next day they gave me a call and said I was hired and I have been here for 10 years.”

Wallace said after 20 years of doing economic development, she isn’t tired of it. However, her grandson was born with an extremely rare autoimmune disease and she wanted to be near him.

“My grandson Landon has Spinal Muscular Atrophy with Respiratory Distress (SMARD),” Wallace said. “There are less than a 100 children in the world that have this.”

She said her grandson, who is a little over a year, has been in and out of hospitals since he was born.

“I just want to be closer to my children and Landon,” Wallace said about her decision to leave.

While making plans to move from Carbon County, she found a job near her son’s family in Liberal, Kansas.

“It is a little over 20,000 and is the county seat of Seward,” Wallace said.

Wallace is proud of being involved in getting the saw mill in Saratoga reopened.

“That has created about 150 jobs,” Wallace said.

The wind projects that came to Carbon County in the past decade also took a lot of her time.

“There were many, many meetings with different parties,” Wallace said. “I became very vested and knowledgeable on wind energy during my years here.”

Wallace wrote the grant for Little Rascals pre-school in Baggs.

“That community needed pre-school and day care and we helped it happen,” Wallace said. “Before the building got built they were operating out of a trailer. I was really impressed by the community around Baggs. People matched the money and it was from folks around the town, not just the town.”

She has also worked with hotels that came to the county.

“I wrote one grant to get the street in there so the hotel (Fairfield Inn) could go in there,” Wallace said. “I also talked to the Walmart people when I found out they owned the land they did. The person I talked to was looking at two places to put a smaller Walmart and you can see we have one here.”

Wallace said she was the facilitator in the beginning, but then Walmart went to the City of Rawlins for negotiations. She has many success stories that give her pride.

“A lot of time, it is me connecting people to right businesses,” Wallace explained. “We don’t have money to give out, but we can help make sure the right people and institutions are put in contact.”

Wallace was instrumental in founding Leadership Carbon County, is a development program designed to cultivate community leaders for the benefit of Carbon County’s future.

Wallace said there have been some near misses of companies coming to Carbon County. Usually the county is up against Cheyenne and Laramie.

“I get everybody together to talk to them,” Wallace said. “One of them was Microsoft,”

She said tourism is economic development and that is why she was the Carbon County representative to the Carbon County Visitor Council.

“Carbon County is blessed with so many tourist attractions. We have some gems in this county to be proud of,” Wallace said.

Her concern as she leaves, are politicians that are trying to tax the wind.

“I cannot tell you how many meetings I have had to go to the legislative committees to oppose any increase in the wind production tax, to give the wind industry a fair shot in the state,” Wallace said.

Wallace said she will miss Carbon County, the people and helping the area with its economic development, but she feels her grandson needs her more.

 

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