Economic Diversification: Lessons from Wyoming

We spend much of our consulting work focused on helping communities diversify after they’ve faced some economic shock, such as loss of a major industry (coal or manufacturing), a natural disaster, or a more general economic downturn.  We’ve learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t, but a few important lessons jump out from this experience.  Transforming one’s economy is hard, and if you attempt it, you need committed high-level leadership and you need to be in it for the long haul, not just until the next election.   That’s why I’ve been so impressed with the preliminary work of Wyoming’s ENDOW (Economically Needed Diversity Options for Wyoming) Initiative.  Started by Governor Matt Mead in late 2016, ENDOW is focused on helping Wyoming develop new economic engines to replace lost jobs in the state’s large coal industry.  ENDOW has just released its preliminary recommendations, and they contain a host of good ideas.   They offer a mix of strategies that are relevant beyond Wyoming too—such as attracting Bitcoin focused companies, strengthening the state’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, and beefing up workforce offerings.  As always, the devil is in the details and execution of these ideas is still in the future.  But, ENDOW is off to a good start and its ideas and progress are worth rooting for and following in the future.