Achy Breaky Heart: Sometimes the truth hurts!
6 min. read
If you missed this viral little song from Billy Ray Cyrus in the 80s, you are either lucky or cheated depending on your perspective. Wyoming can break your heart at times. This week the weather broke a lot of people’s hearts by going from 60 degrees to blowing snow and 8 degrees in one day! Valentine’s Day also broke a few hearts this week, but I am not sure bad decisions in a partner really have anything to do with business and Wyoming.
I have been watching the legislature the last few weeks, and have been particularly interested in discussions regarding economic development and business. What I am convinced of is that very few politicians, or citizens for that matter, understand what drives a positive business climate and economy (and that is truly a heartbreaker.) So, in hopes that even one human can be reached, I am highlighting a few of the misconceptions I have heard in the last couple of weeks.
1. “We are the most business friendly state in the union”
Hmm really? US News and World Report doesn’t place us in the top 10; CNBC ranks us as 32nd; and Forbes also ranks us in the 30s. While it is true we come out on the top of the heap for everyone as tax friendly, tax friendly and low cost are two different things. We have work to do to be a state of choice for business.
2. Our kids are leaving because there is not enough entertainment in our communities.
Liquor has been a central talking point regarding this item. Factually, we are definitely getting alcohol sold in this state. In fact, we drink half a gallon more per year per person than the average American. Our kids leave this state for jobs and opportunity. Salary and advancement opportunities are top of mind for young workers in their 20s. While quality of life was the “decider” 20 years ago, it is not primary in today’s much more demanding economic climate.
3. We need more trade workers, that’s the problem.
Well, yes and no. We do need more skilled trade workers, but, statistically, our lack of workers with a college degree is our gap. Statistically speaking, we actually do better than average for certificates and associate’s degrees that work in the trades. This is certainly due in no small part to the excellent work that LCCC does in this sector. It is great that we are excelling with this segment, but our deficit of degreed citizens is almost 10%. This is an economic problem that we have to work to solve.
4. We are a low regulatory burden state, and that’s good for business.
This one is hard to address with hard numbers, but we did focus on this a few years back and found that Wyoming is generally ranked from 28th to 48th considering the regulatory environment. Something like restrictive worker’s comp that is very expensive is an example of how our regulatory environment has a negative impact on business.
Wyoming is a great state and I believe Cheyenne has been an exceptional city within the state, but times are changing regarding business climate and where and how business operates. We certainly can make our future bright by embracing facts and going to work on our shortcomings; or we can continue to believe that our opinions are more important than the numbers. The heart of Wyoming will certainly be broken in the process.