Companies expanding into Wyoming are greeted with a “complex package” of incentives, according to Bob Jensen.
That package lands Wyoming among the most attractive states for business, the Wyoming Business Council chief executive officer said.
“From the standpoint of a business in general, the cost of doing business in Wyoming by and large is less than almost any other place in the country,” he said. “Wyoming, of course, has no income tax for either corporations or individuals. And because of our mineral industry in this state — the energy sector and the mineral sector — we have a very low personal tax rate. Sales and property taxes are relatively low and employment taxes are relatively low.”
“But the tax structure is one piece of a pretty complex package that has attractiveness for a lot of different companies based on what their business-needs are,” he added.
Wyoming placed fifth in the Pollina Corporate Top 10 Business Rankings released this month.
The annual rankings indicate “how well each state has positioned itself to retain and create jobs as well as sustain America’s middle class,” according to a news release.
The study ranks states based on 32 factors, such as taxes, human resources, education, right-to-work legislation, energy costs, economic incentive programs and state economic development efforts.
“The top 10 states exhibited leadership that truly understands the importance of producing the best business environment, and thus the best opportunities for job growth,” according to the release. “All 10 top-ranked states should be held up as models for the other 40 states and the federal government.”
Wyoming is able to keep taxes low because the cost of government is supplemented via taxation of the mineral and energy-production industries, Jensen said.
“The extractive industries in the state have for a long time carried the bulk of the tax burden for the state,” he said.
Lawmakers have struck a balance with the extractive industries, allowing such companies to make money while also reinforcing the tax base, Jensen said.
“We’re the nation’s leading producer of energy for the whole country,” he said. “Those are finite resources; once you pull them out you can’t go back and get them, generally speaking.
“So, I think our legislative and executive leadership have reached a very good balance when it comes to recognizing the finite nature of those resources — taxing them at a level that allows them to be economic, allowing companies to make a profit by extracting and selling them — and the state receives a nice benefit in terms of the tax rate to cover our cost of government.”
Companies also find Wyoming attractive because the state offers a number of incentives, Jensen said.
“We have incentives for sales tax, an abatement for the purchase of manufacturing equipment for manufacturing companies; we have an incentive for data-center companies to lower their cost of power and broadband; and we have a sales-tax incentive for data-center companies on high-value purchases of servers and related equipment when they’re over a certain dollar amount,” he said. “Those are just a few examples.”
In addition, Wyoming lawmakers have a track record for consistent legislation, Jensen said.
“Anytime you have a lot of uncertainty or regulatory risk, that adds to the cost of doing business, and it makes it riskier for a business to make a decision,” he said. “These are big decisions when you look at expansions or relocations, and so our governor and legislature have been very conservative when it comes to being consistent, and that makes a huge difference to businesses when they look at a location for expansion.”
Jensen said companies in Wyoming can expect access to decision-makers, such as mayors and state representatives.
“Having that access makes it easier and more expedient for them to get things done,” he said. “The way we implement our regulation is far more business-friendly than most other locations.”
Jensen said business-friendly regulations are part and parcel of the Wyoming way of life.
“It’s kind of our style here in Wyoming,” he said. “We know each other and like to treat each other the way we want to be treated. And, you know, there’s just fewer of us. So, it’s just easier to get in touch with these people.”
As a result, Jensen said more companies are looking to expand into the state.
“We have a lot of prospects that we’re talking to, and a lot of people are executing on decisions to move here — more so than in the past,” he said.