Thoughts from Dale Steenbergen-
With negative temperatures outside, a blanket of snow that is light as a feather and lacking moisture, and the winter itch really starting to crank up in the northern tier states, it’s a great day to think about warmth, sun, water, beach, or about anything that reminds us of another season. I can think of no better way to shake off the winter doldrums than to crank up a Beach Boys tune. (My personal favorite is Kokomo.)
Our weather is certainly a consideration for economic development. Harsh climates tend to have fewer citizens and make it harder to recruit too. While I agree with the preceding sentiments, I believe that we overstate certain issues to give ourselves an excuse of why we are not competitive. What else could it be you ask? After all, we have the lowest taxes in the nation, cheap electricity, cheap land, and more! It must be the weather!
Poor Mother Nature! We even blame her for our failures in economic development. Sometimes, you just have to embrace the facts. Here is a fact: We spend millions at all levels of government and at the promise of some local group recruiting some kind of savior for our economy. It hasn’t happened, and, folks, it ain’t gonna. There is no godsend coming from outside our state to revolutionize our economy.
Some of you are taking this as bad news, but it’s not. We have a good thing going here, so we can grow our own success. What if we put as much effort and financial resources into our Wyoming companies as we did in looking outside the state for someone to save the economy? We might be surprised at the results. In fact, those results have already been demonstrated to us over the years.
While we have spent tremendous amounts of money and time to bring in the “one” , the fact is our largest employers have been here a long time. FE Warren AFB, Wyoming National Guard, and Cheyenne Regional Medical Center are three of the largest. We should continue building around them and what they can do in the future. How about industries? Energy, tourism, and agriculture lead the way, yet we do comparatively little to help these industries succeed. Look, the chamber is all about new opportunities for our state, but we also believe that our primary focus should be on our companies, our people, and our communities.
The chamber is committed to the 90% of business that is small business and homegrown. If Wyoming has victories with recruitment, so be it. Let’s not forget the folks who actually pay our bills. Thank you, small and existing businesses, you have worked hard, and we appreciate it.
Your Greater Cheyenne Chamber of Commerce was founded in 1907 and is more than 1,000 members strong. We advocate for business at all levels of government and promote our community to make the region a better place to live, work, and do business. Visit www.cheyennechamber.org/talent-development for more information about our work at your chamber.