Economy

Location for Chokecherry and Sierra Madre wind project. Several in public comment spoke from the county, along with a project official
Power Company of Wyoming

The state legislature's Joint Revenue Committee set aside time during a recent meeting to learn how the wind industry is currently being taxed in the state; no bill on the subject was under discussion.

Catlin Mary Ann Miller via Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license


The pandemic has caused nationwide economic struggles, including here in Wyoming. You might be surprised to learn that it's also created a new wave of entrepreneurs.

Public Domain

The Legislature's Joint Revenue Committee has voted to recommend approval of a nine cent fuel tax increase to pay for highway maintenance. Wyoming Department of Transportation Director Luke Reiner said WYDOT faces a funding gap of $136 million and the tax increase would help chip away at that.

McFadden Wind Farm
Leigh Paterson

The Joint Corporations, Elections & Political Subdivisions Committee voted to sponsor and move forward with a bill that would effectively raise the tax on generating wind energy in Wyoming. The bill removes the three year tax exemption given to companies before a $1 per megawatt hour tax sets in.

In May of 2020, the Converse County trailer park quickly emptied out after the pandemic hit and oil and gas activity declined.
Cooper McKim

Gov. Mark Gordon will use $15 million in CARES Act funds to create the Energy Rebound Program, a program intended to boost oil and gas activity in Wyoming. At the moment, there are five active rigs in the state compared to 25 at the beginning of the year.

uwyo.edu

Over the past three years, the Wyoming legislature has passed laws to create a regulatory environment for blockchain application growth. Now, the new University of Wyoming Center for Blockchain and Digital Innovation hopes to help keep this new industry in the state.

Stevenson's Hyrail Services, LLC early on during the pandemic
Cooper McKim

Local businesses serving the energy industry in Wyoming are expressing anxiety over expected policy changes from President-elect Joe Biden.

Cevin Iemus, owner of Land Surveying, Incorporated in Gillette, said he expects his bottom line to be greatly impacted by this election. He's thinking about Biden's potential ban of oil and gas permits on federal land. For now, Iemus expects a surge of new permits and activity to outrun those changes, "but it's going to take a quick turn and go downhill."

Office of Refugee Resettlement

Since 1980, more than three million refugees from around the world have resettled in the United States. Wyoming is the only state in the country to not participate in a refugee resettlement program, meaning those seeking a new home cannot be directly settled in the state's borders.

Wyoming Public Radio's Catherine Wheeler spoke with University of Wyoming Assistant Law Professor Jerry Fowler, who is also the supervisor of the UW Law School's International Human Rights Clinic, about the impact this can have on our state.

Wyoming Legacy Meats

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted a problem that already existed in Wyoming—a lack of USDA meat processing facilities compared to the number of animals that need to be processed.

Producers need their meat to be USDA certified in order to sell across state lines and to grocery stores and restaurants. The narrowing bottleneck has put many in a financial bind.

Jeff Victor


Wyoming, like many states, has tried to strike a balance between letting businesses operate and slowing the spread of COVID-19. But businesses are struggling to keep their doors open amid a rapid rise in coronavirus cases.

The Crowbar and Grill in downtown Laramie had to radically alter its operations when COVID-19 hit Wyoming in March.

Wyoming Business Council

This week, Governor Mark Gordon unveiled some final CARES ACT aid. The money will be split between Wyoming businesses and the agriculture community.

The Wyoming Business Council will oversee the distribution and Wyoming Business Council CEO Josh Dorrell joins Wyoming Public Radio's Bob Beck to explain the funding, starting with the agriculture support.

justtrails.com

More than a million more people visited Wyoming state parks so far this year compared to last. The Wyoming Department of State Parks and Cultural Resources reports those record breaking numbers are continuing into the fall.

Amid the economic downturn, Idaho and Utah have some of the lowest unemployment rates in the country.

Tedweverka via Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

For the first time in nearly 50 years, there will be no winter lodging at Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park.

pxhere via CC0 Public Domain

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many have turned to the great outdoors in an effort to get out of their house but still stay away from people. And with more people out of work, it also helps to be able to fill the freezer. For some, stocking up on food during the pandemic means buying extra meat. For others, it means buying a hunting license and heading into the field. For Tylynn Smith from Laramie, it's her first time going hunting.

If this was a normal year, right now, thousands of people would be flocking to the middle of the northern Nevada desert to watch “The Man” burn. But it’s not a normal year, and this year’s Burning Man counterculture outdoor festival has been canceled along with many, many live events across the region. That’s taking its toll on the arts, the community and the economy. 

Downtown Laramie, Wyoming
Bob Beck


It was a rough spring for Wyoming's workforce. Unemployment skyrocketed with the closure of many businesses due to COVID-19. The federal government provided assistance, but it took awhile to get the roughly $336 million it paid out into people's hands. Robin Cooley is the director of Wyoming Department of Workforce Services. She told Wyoming Public Radio's Bob Beck that when the pandemic hit in Wyoming, things changed quickly.

picserver.org/e/economy.html

A new report from the Wyoming Department of Administration and Information shows that sales tax numbers last spring dropped dramatically in both mining and lodging.

money
CC0 Public Domain

This week, Gov. Mark Gordon started addressing Wyoming's $1.5 billion shortfalls with $250 million in budget cuts.

The cuts are due to the economic fallout from COVID-19 and a sudden drop in energy prices. Gordon has said he would like to see cuts, reserves, and some new revenue sources used together to address the shortfall, but that remains difficult.

President Donald Trump says an executive order he signed on Saturday funds a $400 weekly supplement to unemployment benefits. But it likely won't be as helpful as it seems.


This story was powered by America Amplified, a public radio initiative.

Tourism to Yellowstone and Glacier national parks is humming along this summer despite the pandemic, but it appears that out-of-staters are bringing more than just their money with them.

 


Navajo Transitional Energy Company

The Navajo Transitional Energy Company (NTEC) announced it will be hiring back 73 furloughed employees, who will be able to return to work at the Spring Creek Mine on August 3. The mine in southeastern Montana employs many Wyoming residents as well.

The economy may be on life support due to COVID-19, but housing sales across the nation soared in June, according to a report released Wednesday from the National Association of Realtors. It found that housing sales jumped about 20% nationwide compared to sales in May – the largest single-month recovery since the organization began collecting data. 

This story is part of a collaboration between the Mountain West News Bureau and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Read about how a U.S. border town is responding to the shutdown here.

Paul Samycia started his fly fishing company two decades ago and has grown it into the largest in Fernie, British Columbia. But these days, Samycia's Elk River Guiding Company is adrift. 

Traditionally more than two-thirds of the company's clients are Americans, and with the border closed, Samycia says the season is almost a write-off.

This story was powered by America Amplified, a public radio initiative.

The U.S.-Canada border crossing north of Eureka, Mont., is quiet these days. No buses or vans packed with mountain bikes and vacationing families. Just a single logging truck. 

"No traffic hardly at all," says David Clarke, owner of the First & Last Chance Bar and Duty Free Store.

Surgical Face Mask by NurseTogether is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

In the past month, Wyoming saw 700 new COVID-19 cases. At a press conference Gov. Mark Gordon said this is partly the result of people not following social distancing recommendations during the fourth of July holiday.

As the pandemic wears on, leaders across the country are looking at how to economically recover after the COVID-19 pandemic. Some in the Mountain West are calling for more outdoor recreation spending.

Sightline Institute

In early July, reports surfaced that Japan could shutter up to 100 of its oldest coal plants. Shortly after, Trade Minister Hiroshi Kajiyama confirmed that the country was in the process of developing a "concrete framework" for closing down inefficient plants — though he didn't mention a specific number.

After 27 months of continual decline, the number of Americans falling behind on their mortgage payments is on the rise.

Kamila Kudelska

In mid-March, right before the COVID-19 pandemic fully hit the United States, professional bullfighter Dusty Tuckness was at Rodeo Houston in Texas. He said it was going well, until soon, it got shut down.

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