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Wyoming ranks highly as one of the most entrepreneurial states

Nick Youngson
Alpha Stock Images CC BY-SA 3.0 

Wyoming ranks near the top of the most entrepreneurial states, according to project management experts at The Digital Project Manager. It ranked the Cowboy State in sixth place.

According to The Digital Project Manager’s findings, there are 12,357 small businesses/100,000 people and nearly a 120 percent increase in business applications from 2019 to 2022.

The Wyoming Secretary of State’s Office’s records reflect this trend. Just in this last fiscal year, the office says there was a 25 percent increase in revenue from business filings compared to last.

Though Wyoming has the country’s smallest population, Josh Dorrell, CEO of the Wyoming Business Council (WBC), said the high ranking is attributable to the emphasis state and local officials have placed on job growth and creation recently.

“We want to create great jobs for Wyoming, right? We want to make sure that communities are resilient and then we want to get rid of any barriers to economic growth,” he said. “Those are kind of the three things that we really focus on.”

WBC does that through a number of programs focused on small to medium and large-sized businesses. This includes the Small Business Development Center that helps with business planning, accounting, and other forms of assistance to ensure that businesses are successful. Grants for small business research are another way they help businesses looking to approach a market but who need some assistance in doing so. The WBC announced the launch of the Wyoming Venture Capital Fund (WYVC) and its first direct equity investment earlier this year in Language I/O, a Wyoming-created business that offers customer service language translation for many Fortune 500 companies such as Shutterstock and Rosetta Stone. Dorrell said that there is about $16 million that the WBC can use to make investments into companies that are high-growth, ones seeking to increase the number of employees, enter the global market, and improve technology and services, among others.

“We have one of the most business friendly environments in the country when it comes to no corporate tax, very low other taxes, and no personal income tax. We are a place that people want to come to start a business, so we're really, really business friendly,” he said. “Also, we're business friendly from an access to leadership. If you look at the legislature, the legislative process, and how citizens in Wyoming can play a part in it and really kind of make it pro-business. We have that where other states don't, so I think there are a number of factors that make Wyoming really, really attractive to entrepreneurs.”

Dorrell added that because Wyoming doesn’t have a corporate income tax, it’s difficult to know exactly how many companies are registering LLCs in the state.

Dorrell points to manufacturing companies that have relocated to Sheridan in the past several years as a sign of success in attracting businesses and integrating them into the local economy and community.

“Sheridan has a number of manufacturers who were already there but then over time, more have relocated or started there, and now you have like a manufacturing cluster where the community college is involved in training, the businesses are all in some way sharing employees, there's a, there's an ecosystem of where employees can move around. And that mobility is actually really important,” he said. “Ultimately, what you want to do is you want to bring more people to the party, so that people can your employees can share, and you can also really attract more of a workforce, because those individuals have the ability to move around, and they have some security…we're trying to develop those clusters [statewide].”

The WBC’s Business Ready Communities Program aims to gain an understanding of what a company needs to move to Wyoming but also what existing businesses need to grow and thrive, too.

Dorrell said that growing and attracting businesses won’t necessarily be an easy task in the coming years and will likely depend on which region of the state is being considered and marketed. The main objective is to invest in businesses that will be viable in the coming years and decades and what’s restricting or stopping businesses growth in the state currently.

“Some of the regions are facing a lot of pressure from external [sources], from federal legislation and from markets that are maybe choosing different products than they had in the past. And so what we're faced with is, we're going to be facing some pretty decent challenges,” he said. “[But] We've really kind of dug into the root cause of some of these challenges and we're addressing those. So, I actually think that the outlook is going to be really, really good but it's not going to be an easy path to get there.”

Hugh Cook is Wyoming Public Radio's Northeast Reporter, based in Gillette. A fourth-generation Northeast Wyoming native, Hugh joined Wyoming Public Media in October 2021 after studying and working abroad and in Washington, D.C. for the late Senator Mike Enzi.
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