Gordon Attends Meeting to Discuss Innovation Partnership
At Casper College on Wednesday, Governor Mark Gordon attended a meeting along with over a dozen business and college leaders to discuss the future of business development in Wyoming.
The meeting centered on the Wyoming Innovation Partnership (WIP), which is using $27 million in funds from the American Rescue Plan to "support the state’s overall economic vision set forth by the Wyoming Business Council and support education attainment goals developed by the state."
Gordon said WIP will consist of three phases, with the next two phases yet to be funded and a timeline yet to be determined, as they figure out what their next steps for the program will be.
Susan Miller, a member of Casper College's board of trustees, said one of the ways to help retain workers in Wyoming is to pay them more money.
"I think that's really the elephant in the room. We have the environment that people want to live here, but sometimes they can't make enough money to stay here...we want you to train welders, so they'll graduate with their welding degree, and we'll pay them $15 an hour. They can get a job in Arizona for $25 an hour. Guess where they decided to go. And we forget that sometimes we need to be a little bit more forthcoming about what we're willing to pay people in Wyoming...Somehow we need to coordinate paying people a living wage for what they're doing."
Gordon said there are many different types of energy, like solar and wind, that Wyoming could do more to utilize while still balancing out wildlife concerns.
"What I'll say is Wyoming has energy out the wazoo. We have the best wind in the country, we have really pretty good solar. We have obviously potential for nuclear, we have some hydro...No matter what happens with the energy scenario, it's going to happen in Wyoming. We only tax fossil fuels, so whatever happens in the other energy sectors, doesn't help Wyoming, that probably will come with some change. The other issue is Wyoming has some of the best wildlife...so the challenge is how you balance all those to make sure you preserve wildlife habitats, allow for energy productions, diversify across all the energy spectrums. Those types of things are going to be interesting challenges to deal with."
While Wyoming doesn't currently tax solar, the state does levy a tax on wind farms to the tune of around $4 million a year.