CHEYENNE — The number of out-of-state businesses looking at locating in Wyoming has doubled over the past two fiscal years, according to a report from the state’s economic development agency.
An annual Wyoming Business Council report noted 40 valid prospects from out-of-state businesses between July 1, 2011, and June 30, 2012. During the 2011 fiscal year there were 29 such inquiries, and in 2010 there were 20, according to the report sent to Gov. Matt Mead’s office last week.
“Part of the reason for that is because we have a good, stable business climate that has a lot more certainty to it than most other states in terms of cost of doing business, taxation on business, that kind of thing,” Robert Jensen, chief executive officer of the council, said.
Only three out-of-state firms ended up establishing a successful operation in Wyoming this past fiscal year, but 17 are still considering the state. In 2010, three business prospects came to the state while only four were still considering Wyoming.
“We have a larger pipeline of businesses interested in looking at a Wyoming location than we’ve had for a long time,” Jensen said.
Jensen said most interest from out-of-state companies involves the possibility of expanding into Wyoming. It’s very rare for a business to completely relocate its headquarters even in a good economy, he said.
“Just because we have a low cost of doing business doesn’t mean that it makes sense for them to locate here if it’s a long way from their market,” he said.
The report noted that Wyoming’s non-mineral industries are seeing good growth rates despite the struggling national economy.
“When you look at the growth rate of gross domestic product in non-mineral industries we continue to have a good, strong five-year growth rate in non-mineral industry GDP,” Jensen said. “And I think that speaks to the fact that Wyoming’s economy, while clearly dominated by the energy industry, still is diversifying although we probably aren’t getting off the bottom of the list when it comes to diversified economies comparatively speaking to other states.
“But that said, a lot of the other states that have well diversified economies have their economy in the dump. So diversification of your economy doesn’t automatically mean a healthy economy.”
Coal and natural gas — the two mainstays of Wyoming’s economy — have seen depressed prices recently and growth in those industries has been limited as a result.
Still, Jensen said his agency and others have been working on encouraging businesses related to the energy industry, such as companies that develop better ways to burn coal.
The report also noted that the state money invested through various Wyoming Business Council programs attracted more local and private investment this past fiscal year.
Jensen said that shows investment in infrastructure, such as business parks, that have been made throughout Wyoming in the last four years is paying off by attracting private investors to locate facilities in the state.
“The ability to be proactive and visionary, of the Legislature to spend money on this good, solid business related infrastructure is resulting in businesses taking advantage of it, investing far more than the state is in their investment,” he said. “And that’s what drives job creation.”