Incentives, workforce options in economic development mix
Date posted: January 17, 2014
Incentives – the concept of using tax exception, grants or loans to enable a business to expand or relocate — are quickly coming to the forefront in Wyoming. Recently, Cheyenne Leads and the State of Wyoming provided a loan/grant package, reportedly around $13 million to gun manufacturer Magpul to relocate from Colorado to Cheyenne. Is this a good use of tax dollars? It is certainly a superior use when compared to unemployment costs and associated social expenditures resulting from unemployment.
In our business recruitment efforts, we are becoming more and more aware that companies, or their advocates, are asking for and expecting incentives. Interestingly, there is a business (real estate) that as a core practice, is clearly pervasive in the corporate relocation world.
In Sheridan, we have three specific items to address incentive options. First off, Wyoming has a favorable business tax environment which is coupled with a fiscally sound state government. In the long haul, no incentive can overcome consistently low business and private property taxes. Secondly, there are established workforce training options. When I say established, this is a program that offers financial support for new hires as well as continuing education. This program is used by many employers in Sheridan and continues to be used as a way to keep workforce effective and on the cutting edge. Other states have training programs available, but competitively, ours are more flexible and with Sheridan College here, very useable and useful. Thirdly, Wyoming Business Council Business Ready Grants give a leg up to our city and county for infrastructure. Our interaction with corporate business recruiters are no-nonsense. Businesses want to know if water, roads, sewer, power, and fiber optics are available and that permits to build are predictable in time frame and obligations. Uncertainty of infrastructure or permit schedules is an easy deal killer.
Sheridan can and is competing in a very severe arena. That is why we at Forward Sheridan continue to work to bring possible business leads here to interact in our community with people that have made the decision to live and work here.
Jay Stender is the Executive Director at Forward Sheridan