Wyoming’s economy is the most sluggish in the nation, according to a report released by Bloomberg in December. That ranking came from analysis of employment, income, stock and home prices, as well as late mortgage payments around the nation. Bloomberg analysts attributed the state’s poor score to the recent energy downturn, as well as the fact that Wyoming has no urban center, where job growth tends to accelerate.
Randy Bruns is CEO of Cheyenne LEADS, an organization geared towards economic development. He says for communities to be attractive to businesses, they should have a strong transportation system, a close proximity to consumers, and a large workforce. Cheyenne has some of these assets, but its low? population is still a deterrent for some companies. Bruns says Wyoming just doesn’t have enough people to fill the jobs that would support rapid urbanization.
“We’re going to work with any and every company that’s even remotely interested or looking,” Bruns said. “But the fact is our growth is going to be not [for] those companies that are looking for 500 employees, but those that are looking for 25 and 50 and 100.”
Bruns cites Cheyenne’s Microsoft data center as an example of a business that has quietly flourished, from only 35 jobs to about 200 in just a few years.
Cheyenne LEADS Director of Business Development Anja Bendel adds that growth is gradual when a company is looking for people with particular experience.
“When you don’t have a specific industry cluster, starting something new is challenging,” Bendel said, “because you’re only going to have a very limited number of people with the skills needed for that job-set.”
In a time when many people are looking for jobs in places where they want to live, Bendel says it’s yet another challenge to attract a younger workforce to Wyoming’s communities, especially those who are looking for an urban lifestyle.