Thoughts from Dale Steenbergen –
There is an old saying “ignorance is bliss” and I think it definitely applies to many folks among us. It seems to be especially prevalent among those who think they can solve our community, economic and societal development problems using 20 years out-of-date opinion-based solutions.
One of the concerning problems in our neck of Wyoming is that our average wage is below national average. Here in our budding metropolis average wage is around $22 which is below national average. This number is of little consequence but when you use it as a ratio compared to expenses it begins to paint a picture of a thriving or languishing economy. The problem for us pops up when you start to look at cost of living expenses. According to Best Places our cost of living index is 107. This is seven points higher than the US.
If you want, check out some more stats about Cheyenne.
All of this would indicate then that our tax structure, incentive packages, our development regulations and our economic strategy would be driven toward either lowering the cost of living (especially housing since it spikes our numbers significantly) or specifically targeting jobs that pay significantly above our average wage. Fixes like these would bump the average to a point satisfying our increased cost of living. So, are we doing that? I think I can make a strong argument we have not chosen the path to and in fact we still supply incentives for employment paying far below this average (several examples of $8 to $10 below). We continue to retain a regulatory and tax structure that is more related to the “golden age” of industry than the modern age of “new growth” economic development theory. The result, the average job we bring to the state does not sustain the cost of the citizen and the gap is picked up by the rest of the citizenry or in our case by increased burden on the energy industry and our rainy day fund that’s been created by energy’s success in our state.
The time has come to make changes. The Greater Cheyenne Chamber is attacking this problem from multiple fronts. Talent Pipeline management to improve workforce skills, infrastructure funding like rail, road and military projects, entrepreneurial development to create better jobs and inspire growth among our existing businesses. We are advocating to change regulatory, tax and incentive policies that hamper our economy. The time is now to choose a better Cheyenne and Wyoming. Success is not a secret it is an informed choice and its time to make it.
“It’s the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine.” The title can be interpreted two ways, either we read it as the world is changing and we are just fine that it is and we are willing able and excited to respond. Or, it can be interpreted as “ignorance is bliss” as we sit back and watch the rest of the world pass us by. The choice is ours. We know what the Chamber thinks. What about you?
Join in on our initiatives, governmental affairs and committees. Be a part of the solution and let’s be more than FINE. Let’s be extraordinary!
The Greater Cheyenne Chamber of Commerce was founded in 1907 and is more than 1,000 members strong. Using guiding core competencies, the Greater Cheyenne Chamber of Commerce demonstrates leadership by advocating for business at all levels of government and promoting our community to make the region a better place to live, work, and do business. The Greater Cheyenne Chamber of Commerce is also active in the Wyoming Business & Industry Federation, Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Visit cheyennechamber.org for more information.