From our bustling main streets to our remote country homesteads, Wyoming is well-known for its fresh air, outdoor recreation opportunities and fantastic quality of life. Ours is a culture built on independence, tireless work ethic and fearless innovation – three qualities that have shaped Wyoming’s heritage and will see it into a prosperous future.
As Wyoming’s banner industry – mineral extraction – faces a challenging outlook, state leaders and residents have approached the state’s need to diversify with urgency and enthusiasm, and Wyoming is well on its way to making a name for itself in some unexpected ways.
The University of Wyoming’s Sports Complex in Laramie played host to a new type of competition this September: a blockchain-based hackathon.
WyoHackathon 2018 attracted about 400 software developers from as nearby as the UW Computer Science Department and as far away as Kenya, China, Egypt, Slovakia, Switzerland and Canada.
Developers worked day and night to win more than $100,000 in cash and prizes for the most innovative blockchain-based software solutions that would benefit Wyoming. Such an event wouldn’t have been successful – or even possible – without bold moves made by the 2018 Wyoming Legislature to create a blockchain- and crypto-friendly business environment in Wyoming.
The Legislature passed five bills, the first of their kind in the world, that not only made it legal for blockchain and cryptocurrency companies to operate in Wyoming but also made it easier for them to earn capital and grow in the state.
“Wyoming is interested in economic diversification, and the blockchain industry can provide it,” said Caitlin Long, a founding member of the Wyoming Blockchain Coalition. “We are attracting serious software entrepreneurs, and unlike the dot-com boom – where most software companies were in Silicon Valley – today’s software companies can be located anywhere. The industry is highly global and highly mobile, and it will congregate where it’s wanted. Wyoming is one of the places welcoming it.”
At the Hackathon, Blockchain company ActiveAether announced it will donate $20,000 in computing capacity to the University of Wyoming Computer Science Department and relocate its headquarters from New York to Jackson, Wyoming, and Overstock.com CEO Patrick Byrne said his company will open a development office in Wyoming.
Wyoming public officials recognize fast, reliable internet is critical to modern business. So, the 2018 Wyoming Legislature created the Broadband Advisory Council and allocated $10 million to create public-private partnerships to improve broadband coverage in the state.
With even faster and more reliable broadband, Wyoming’s wide-open spaces become less of a challenge and more of an opportunity. Companies can hire skilled employees who can work remotely from anywhere in the world. At the same time, employees can locate themselves in Wyoming’s fresh air and safe neighborhoods while working remotely in the skilled, high-tech jobs that have typically required city living.
Four Wyoming agriculture companies met potential buyers and explored market opportunities in Taiwan this fall as part of the Wyoming Business Council’s ongoing international trade mission efforts.
The trade mission was part of an international strategy set in motion by the Wyoming Legislature this spring, which included hiring international trade representative Chester Chu and establishing the Wyoming-Asia Pacific Trade Office in Taiwan. Chu’s presence in Taiwan will help Wyoming raise the profile of its products – including agriculture, minerals and manufactured goods – to the 23.5 million people in Taiwan.
Wyoming ranchers are poised to benefit from increased Asian demand for beef. U.S. beef sales in the region have increased from $128 million to $410 million in the last decade.
In addition, Wyoming has expanded its Foreign Trade Zone to cover almost the entirety of Natrona County in central Wyoming. Within this zone, companies can defer, reduce or avoid paying federal duties (taxes) they would otherwise have to pay on raw materials or components shipped in from foreign countries.
For companies heavily involved in importing and exporting, the savings from operating in this zone add up quickly.
While the coal industry finds itself in the crosshairs of conversations on climate change, it continues to pay a large percentage of tax revenue coming into Wyoming. The livelihoods of thousands of Wyoming citizens are intricately woven into the industry.
In 2014, the state and private industry worked together to fund the design, construction and operation of the Integrated Test Center (ITC) at the Dry Fork Station, located seven miles north of Gillette. It was created with the goal of striking a balance between environment and economy. Researchers will capture and repurpose emissions, turning them into profitable commodities like construction materials, alternative fuels and other everyday products. This year, teams from all over the world are competing at the facility for the XPrize, a $20 million incentive for the development of carbon-capture technologies.
Welcome to Wyoming
This year, Wyoming welcomed several relocations and facilitated several large expansions in the state. One of the largest and most notable was the relocation of firearms manufacturer Weatherby’s corporate headquarters from California to Sheridan, Wyoming.
“We wanted a place where we could retain a great workforce, and where our employees could live an outdoor lifestyle,” said Adam Weatherby, chief executive officer. “We wanted to move to a state where we can grow into our brand. Wyoming means new opportunities. We are not interested in maintaining; we are growing.”
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