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Food for Thought

February 13, 2012 in News

There is a resource which is virtually untapped here in Wyoming. This formidable resource that resides here …….if developed and pursued has the potential to enhance Wyoming’s tax bases across the state, create needed jobs, and strengthen our communities. Sounds too good to be true doesn’t it?

Some of its attributes are;

  • A Wyoming resource –already here. We don’t have to spend new $ to get it to relocate here.
  • Has potential to create jobs through first and second stage business growth and expansion.
  • Ability to enhance Wyoming’s tax base, therefore strengthen local communities.
  • Can raise local property values both residential and commercial.
  • Posses a very powerful multiplier effect.

My research shows some interesting facts about Wyoming. 21/23 counties in Wyoming are located within 100 miles of its border and 4/5 Wyoming residents live in these counties. Wyoming is a state with long roads and small towns. Modes of travel have improved and we are willing to drive 50 miles for an ice cream cone! Because of these facts it has created a challenging dilemma. This problem has a name it is called “Out of State Sales Leakage”. How do we turn a negative into a positive? We look at it as an opportunity and turn it into a formidable resource and we go after it! As a retailer I have been champion a Shop@Home Concept for a few years. The purpose is to tap this Wyoming resource that is all around us – but not highly prized.

It is real, and it would surprise most of how large this number really is. Because the numbers have not been quantified state wide most acknowledge its presence but don’t give it any real attention. The numbers show for every $1 spent at a local business ¢.45 is reinvested locally. For every $1 spent out of state the local/state economy loses $1.45 this is a Wyoming resource that we are allowing to leave our state with no real resistance. In other words; buy a fridge from a Wyoming appliance dealer for $1,000 dollars and an additional $450 dollars is realized locally. Buy a $1000 fridge out of state and our area loses a $1450 community investment. Most do not understand the community benefit factor. This 45% community factor far outweighs any assumed savings. Why invest in someone else’s backyard or in another’s states economy? “Putting your money where your house is – makes the most ¢ents!”

How much leakage does Wyoming have? With aggressive economic forces in Utah and Idaho on the West, Montana and its “no sales tax” on the North, and Colorado’s proximity to the South and East Wyoming is a dam with leaks on all sides. The research shows; areas that take action and adopt “buy independent/buy local” campaigns have reported a 2.1 % sales increase – seven times the increase (0.3%) reported by independents in other locations not implementing such.

This number is a start but what if we were to add two additional game changers to the mix? Create a high quality statewide educational “ShopinWyoming” Campaign and provide a financial incentive – in the form of a “Bucking Horse Rewards Card”. With the proper education and a tangible incentive it will begin the process to transfer spending back to our state where it would personally help our residents, our communities and our state.

Normally economic development is attracting new dollars to our state but in this case it is a matter of retaining exiting dollars and then reaping the rewards.

Mark Hunter Afton, Wyoming

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