A foreign trade zone, or FTZ, near the Casper International Airport will be expanded to cover most of Natrona County.
Glenn Januska at the Casper Natrona County International Airport consulting with Manufacturing Works at the University of Wyoming successfully applied to the federal government to expand the FTZ. They hope it will attract new companies, jobs and industries to Natrona County.
FTZs allow companies to avoid paying federal taxes on raw materials and components shipped from foreign countries. Taxes are only paid if the products are sold in the United States.
Many FTZs in the United States are underutilized, including the one in Natrona County.
Gustave Anderson, Assistant Director of Manufacturing Works, addressed this, saying, “There’s currently no one using it. We do hope and expect that there will be some companies that identify the upsides of that. Although I think there’s more work that needs to be done from the business standpoint of really understanding what the return on investment would be for a company that decides to utilize the FTZ.”
One criticism of FTZs is that they encourage manufacturers to import goods, but do not create more jobs. Proponents argue that FTZs create assembly jobs that would otherwise be outsourced.
“The entire role of an FTZ - it can’t work without creating some jobs. Does it bring all of the manufacturing back? No. But it really shouldn’t, we still need to let the market do what the market can do," said Anderson. "If the lens for a ski goggle can be made cheaper overseas than it can here, and we can bring it in and assemble it here instead of assembling it overseas, then we’ve made progress towards high paying jobs.”
The next step is for The Wyoming Business Council to recruit businesses to take advantage of the Foreign Trade Zone.