In the middle of the geographic center of the country.
Land Area: 97,000 square miles
Tax Relief: Wyoming has no personal state income taxes, no corporate state income taxes, no inventory taxes and low property taxes.
Into The Wild: The state boasts seven national forests and two national recreation areas.
Tell anyone you run a food manufacturing, processing or distribution operation in Wyoming and they might raise an eyebrow and then try to dismiss you. After all, it’s not exactly the region that pops into mind as a hot business and logistics hub, is it?
Just ask Tucker Fagan, who knows this scenario all too well. "We meet people at trade shows all the time who tell us they come here for our great fishing or for family vacations," says Fagan, CEO of the Wyoming Business Council in Cheyenne. "But they never think about Wyoming as a place to do business. We are working hard to change that."
Head just 40 miles south of Cheyenne to Fort Collins and Greeley, CO, and it’s more or less the same story. "These are two very vibrant towns so close to us," continues Fagan. "We talk to businesses there and tell them we have a very low--tax environment with no corporate income tax, no income tax and only a 4 percent sales tax. We also have a sales use tax abatement of 4 percent on manufacturing equipment."
These facts are a revelation to them and others across the country, who are beginning to listen a lot more closely to Wyoming’s story.
Wyoming is well known for its clean air and water and has a population of only 500,000 in a 97,000--square--mile area. Cheyenne is an interstate highway and rail hub, with I--80 being the major east--west continental highway. "During the winter, I--80 is the preferred east--west route for truckers because I--90 is too far north with too much snow and ice," Fagan says. "And traveling I--70 means you have to go through more high--mountain passes in Colorado than you do in Wyoming. Essentially, I--80 generally follows the Oregon Trail the pioneers followed to get around the big mountain passes."
For north--south highway movement there is I--25, starting in Cheyenne and traveling north to Montana. The Union Pacific and Burlington Northern Santa Fe railways intersect in Cheyenne, offering excellent nationwide north--south and east--west service.
Wyoming’s three core industries throughout its history have been the mineral industry (coal, oil and gas); tourism (Yellowstone National Park, Grand Teton Park, Devil’s Tower and the Red Desert); and agriculture (cattle and row crops such as sugar beet, alfalfa and barley). In fact, Wyoming is the eighth--largest sugar beet producer in the country, so there are excellent opportunities to expand beyond refined sugar production into areas such as candy manufacturing, says Cindy Garetson Wibo, director of agri--business marketing.
As for food research and development, the University of Wyoming is a land--grant institution with county extension agents present in every county of the state. Several university research stations set up around the state offer excellent resource opportunities for food companies to tap into.
"Because we are a mineral state, the mineral industry sustained us very well throughout our history," Fagan says. "In fact, in 2003 Wyoming had $1 billion over the state’s operating expenses budget and in 2004 we had a surplus of about $900 million, which brings us close to over $2 billion."
This surplus generates more than $300 million annually in interest, which flows directly into the state’s general fund.
"We are investing these monies in business parks and community infrastructure networks," says Fagan.
Wyoming boasts a vital fiber optics network crisscrossing the state, and every high school even has a T--1 line. "We believe part of the success of our future means having an excellent communications network to facilitate and grow our businesses."