Green River Star -

Our View: New plan needed for economy

 


If Wyoming wants to break out of its boom and bust economy, the state has to liberate itself from worshiping the minerals and energy industries.

In Sweetwater County, many of us know all too well the cycles of the boom and bust economies. When times are good, money is everywhere, from the state’s coffers to the wallets of residents working in those booming industries. When times are bad, all one needs to do is look at the stories we’ve published about funding woes local governments face to see the impact.

The problem is, the cycle will likely continue as long as the influential players in the state continue to place all their bets on energy and minerals. Without working to diversify the economy, we’re stuck.

One thing we probably can dismiss at this point is the so-called industrial mega-complex politicians throughout the state have been keen on talking up in the last couple of years. While some counties, including Sweetwater, have gone as far as to create presentations and information sheets about resources available within various regions, that plan was always meant for a long-term goal. It was never something that could be built over the course of a few years, or even a decade. With current downturns in both oil and coal industries, it’s safe to say that the idea will end up collecting dust for the next few years, if it’s ever revisited.

Beyond energy, Wyoming needs to develop a Plan B that can sustain the state and local economies and at least ease these downturns we experience. Tourism is an obvious answer, but the problem is Sweetwater County often is only an area to travel through, not to.

Other tourism-based ideas, speaking of Green River specifically, have included a freshwater fish aquarium, spaceport and riverboat, but aren’t terribly grounded to begin with.

What Green River needs, as well as the rest of the county, is a new form of industry to take root. It needs an industry that takes advantage of the technical skills possessed by workers throughout the county, as well as the training offered at Western Wyoming Community College. While the Rock Springs Chamber of Commerce is spearheading efforts at economic development, we think concentrated efforts should be made with heavy industrial corporations in an attempt to sell both Wyoming and Sweetwater County’s workers to a company looking to expand.

Without that, Sweetwater County can expect to remain on the economic roller coaster it has ridden for the past century.

 

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