Wyoming: A Business-Friendly, Enduring Frontier

-¨As the millions of people who visit Wyoming every year on vacation know, this is a rural state of great beauty and bounty. We have working cowboys, productive ranches, vast open spaces, small friendly towns, and wraparound views of the night sky. We have world-class recreational opportunities for hunting, fishing, skiing, and hiking, to name a few. Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks beckon in the northwest part of the state. Devil’s Tower is a majestic, welcoming feature in our state’s northeast corner. Historic trails used in settling the West crisscross Wyoming.

Our history is rich. We were the first state to elect a woman as governor, the first state where women voted; we have the first National Park, first National Forest and first National Monument. -¨This is just a sampling of the tantalizing attributes that await visitors, and it is easy to understand why throngs of tourists visit.

Our natural resources and vibrant communities are also why those of us who call Wyoming home would never want to leave. The quality of life we enjoy is attracting more and more people who want well-funded schools for their children, no state income tax, and an outdoors to be savored every day of the year. What visitors to Wyoming may not know is that our state continues to receive acclaim for how we treat businesses. Wyoming was named the Best Run State in the country for 2011.

Last year, Wyoming also received Standard and Poor’s highest credit rating – putting us among only a handful of other states with such a rating. We have recently been named by The Tax Foundation as number one in its index of states with good tax climates. Forbes ranks Wyoming in the upper echelon for business friendliness.-¨We are not resting on our laurels and strive to make Wyoming an even friendlier place to do business. One of my goals as governor is to build up broadband infrastructure statewide. Such infrastructure enables people to work from wherever they want, allows students to have additional options in school through distance learning, and gives patients another way to connect with health care professionals.

In these ways and more, broadband connectivity is an equalizer. When Wyoming citizens and businesses have access to the same Internet speed as people in California and New York, then Wyoming is on an equal footing. We see that innovative businesses around Wyoming increasingly have a global footprint through the technologies available here. Tele-health and tele-education initiatives are expanding steadily. The University of Wyoming-NCAR supercomputer will soon be installed near Cheyenne and it will be one of the fastest computers in the world. Wyoming fits hand in glove with technology-related businesses, such as data centers, because of our abundant, affordable energy and naturally cool weather, which keep costs down. Wyoming is also a perfect fit for other businesses, manufacturing for example, because of major interstate routes and intersections as well as east-west, north-south railroads.

Wyoming’s leading industry is energy. We export more energy in the form of British Thermal Units than any other state in America. Wyoming is a leader in the production of coal, natural gas, uranium and oil. We have some of the best potential for wind power in the nation. We support our energy industry and will continue to find ways to be an attractive place for this sector to do business. We also support our No.2 and No. 3 industries, tourism and agriculture, as well as our many small businesses. We encourage enterprising entrepreneurs and proudly trumpet their accomplishments. -¨The revenue from the energy sector has allowed Wyoming to save over $14 billion.

However, we not do take things for granted and remain fiscally disciplined. Our careful stewardship of revenue allows Wyoming to maintain a favorable tax structure – for example, we have no corporate or individual income taxes. We continue to save wisely but we also invest wisely for the future – in our communities, our schools, our infrastructure. We have one of the best-funded school systems in the nation. Wyoming also provides generous scholarships to our college students. We know jobs and businesses blossom on Main Street in our cities and towns, not in the Capitol building. We provide incentives through the Wyoming Business Council, as well as local economic development groups, that allow our communities to grow and thrive. We are a state with stability, rich history and tradition, and western hospitality that is hard to beat.

As I write this article, we are looking forward to all the activities that spring and summer in Wyoming will bring our way this year – county fairs, the 100th anniversary of our state fair, community festivals, outdoor art and music events, and rodeos – lots of rodeos.

On April 9, 2012, I was proud to announce that Microsoft has chosen to build a large new data center near Cheyenne. This decision by Microsoft shows we have the right stuff to compete with any state for data centers, technology-related companies, and other businesses. Admitted as the 44th state on July 10, 1890, Wyoming is part of the frontier that lured settlers west in the 19th and early 20th century. Wyoming is an enduring frontier, too, attracting people through today and providing exciting opportunities into the future.

Wyoming Gov. Matthew H. Mead can be reached at www.wyoming.gov or governor.wy.gov/Pages/default.aspx.

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Richard Blanchard
Rick is the Managing Editor of Corp! magazine. He has worked in reporting and editing roles at the Port Huron Times Herald, Lansing State Journal and The Detroit News, where he was most recently assistant business editor. A native of Michigan, Richard also worked in Washington state as a reporter, photographer and editor at the Anacortes American. He received a bachelor of arts from the University of Michigan and a master’s in accountancy from the University of Phoenix.