The Bison Business Park sits among sprawling land in the city of Cheyenne, complete with 500 acres of mix-use, commercial or light industrial land opportunities. The approval and annexation of the business park was an example of how business development requires collaboration between development-focused organizations and local leaders. Cheyenne LEADS/courtesy

CHEYENNE – HIPAA Vault CEO Gil Vidals first came to Wyoming on a trip with his son, and like many others, he was surprised at all Wyoming had to offer.

Given the legislation related to blockchain and digital assets that was passed in 2018, making way for Wyoming to house the nation’s first digital asset banks, Vidals also saw an opportunity for his company in the crypto world. And like many other business owners who have moved to Wyoming from places like Denver and California, he made the leap and relocated to the Cowboy State’s capital city.

Vidals is hiring a few folks locally for his secure web hosting company.

“If you see a wave coming, you’re on a surfboard – you start paddling a little bit, and if the wave is rising, you paddle like crazy because you don’t want to miss it,” Vidals said. “Well, that’s kind of what I did. I saw this wave called Wyoming coming. … I don’t know exactly what’s going to happen in Wyoming, but it’s exciting what I see so far.”

“So we’re positioning ourselves to catch the Wyoming wave and see where it goes.”

Vidals is not alone. Cheyenne LEADS – the development agency focused on recruiting and retaining primary jobs and attracting new capital investment – has already had nearly 40 new business prospects in 2021, in fields like manufacturing, technology, data centers and energy.

And as the team at LEADS will tell you, that success has come from the hard work of local and statewide leaders crafting regulations, organizations like the Wyoming Business Council offering incentives and the promotion of Laramie County as a destination location for all types of businesses – located near Denver, at the crossroads of Interstates 25 and 80 and near rail lines essential for certain types of commercial activities.

“The magic that LEADS has right now is tied to having the right people at the city and in the county, great elected officials, great staff,” LEADS CEO Betsey Hale said. “We have great partners in Black Hills Energy and the Board of Public Utilities. … We’ve also been very fortunate that we’ve got partners at UW and the Business Council and the Chamber and Visit Cheyenne and the DDA, and they’re just stepping up.”

The wave that Vidals was talking about is just what LEADS has been working toward.

“It really takes all of us,” Hale said.

Pointing to the new Bison Business Park south of town, Hale said city leaders were integral in getting that annexed and fully approved in less than a year, and that the accomplishment is something they should be proud of – especially since speed to market is so vital to businesses.

Paired with the Sweetgrass housing development in south Cheyenne, LEADS Director of Business Attraction Derrek Jerred said, in the near future, residents will live in Sweetgrass and work at the Bison Business Park, as quality of life is an important factor in business relocation and employee retention.

That’s also why they wanted to partner with the Laramie County Conservation District to build a series of trails and a conservation headquarters out at the Cheyenne Business Parkway. That outdoor recreation area will be utilized by both the public and businesses on the parkway, including Lowe’s Regional Distribution Center, Sierra Trading Post, Magpul Industries, Lunavi and, most recently, TBC Manufacturing, which is a family-owned business that moved up from Colorado.

“We really focused on making sure that the city of Cheyenne and Laramie County are a world-class environment to do business,” Hale added.

With Business Council grants, a new LEADS revolving loan fund, low tax rates and land availability, Wyoming offers great benefits to businesses looking to relocate, Hale said. For example, VMAccel’s cutting-edge data center was able to set up shop in town thanks to a $2.25 million Business Ready Community grant from the Wyoming Business Council and approval from the Laramie County Board of Commissioners.

With that investment, VMAccel committed to spending an additional $16.2 million on the project and at least $1.4 million on new employee wages in Laramie County over a five-year period.

But incentives and low taxes aren’t all the state has to offer.

Another trend LEADS has realized is that red companies in blue states are looking to move somewhere that emphasizes family values and where employees have strong work ethics.

“This is a one-of-a-kind town in the United States. This is a city that is like no other city in our history,” Hale said. “It’s something that we need to put our arms around and never forget – living the legend and protecting the legend, living legendary. That’s why we call Cheyenne your business’s next frontier.”

Margaret Austin is the Wyoming Tribune Eagle’s local government reporter. She can be reached at maustin@wyomingnews.com or 307-633-3152. Follow her on Twitter at @MargaretMAustin.

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