Wyoming is not a state many people think of when it comes to economic development, nor is it a state that performs well with the current growing generation. According to Wyoming Governor Matt Mead “year in and year out we lose about 60 percent of our young people between the ages of 18 and 25.”
In an effort to change the narrative of the state, Gov. Mead has introduced the Economically Needed Diversity Options for Wyoming (ENDOW) program. The ENDOW program is designed “to incorporate everything from energy to tourism to ag(riculture) to technology, which I think should be our next emerging sector, to everything including the taxes situation.”
The $2.5 million initiative will make $1.5 million “available to community colleges for training programs targeted to incoming industries.” The remaining $1 million “will be defined as the program takes shape. For instance, it could go toward assisting communities with planning and development.”
Although the current attempt at state diversification is noble, Wyoming has tried similar programs before. Since 1962 economic diversification plans have been presented and promoted and ultimately failed. The newest effort is thought to be a 20 year project that will help create jobs and develop an interest from younger Americans.
The truth is, even with these efforts, it will still be a struggle for the state. To date, Wyoming is the least populated of the 50 American states. It’s located between Montana, Idaho, Utah, the Dakotas, Nebraska and Colorado. In competing with other states for corporate locations, Wyoming isn’t a top choice. In order for the state to generate growth, it will have to promote a small business friendly landscape along with a diversified business and social environment. Cities such as Salt Lake, Denver, and Austin, have all figured out how to grow themselves by promoting diversity in business and population and I believe Wyoming can as well.
It is up to the state to select a city open enough to do this and look to grow it as their “anchor” city. Because as of right now….let’s be honest….can anyone name a city in Wyoming, let alone point out the state on a map?