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THEM ON US: 1.22.14
JACKSON, WYO – Prudent Wyoming ranks high again
Wyoming once again ranked high in the list of fiscally healthy states. The survey, conducted by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University and released last week, placed Wyoming fifth in a list of states measured by their economies.
“States that are doing well have sound fiscal practices, balanced budgets and strategies to manage their long-term liabilities,” the report’s author, Sarah Arnett, stated. “Well-off states are benefitting from increased revenues due to natural resource extraction of natural gas, oil and coal and benefiting from the current higher oil prices.”
Alaska (ranked No. 1) is a perennial chart-topper due to its tax royalty revenue from oil and natural gas extraction. North and South Dakota (ranked No. 3 and No. 4, respectively) are also enjoying an oil boom. Wyoming’s prudent approach to a balanced budget is a major factor in the state’s inclusion in this and similar lists.
Nebraska came in fourth. The bottom feeders included New Jersey (worst), Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts and California.
Additional news from The Trib’s Ben Neary and carried in the Miami Herald stated: “Wyoming capitalized on last year’s record-breaking year on Wall Street to bank hundreds of millions in profits on state investments. The earnings will help lawmakers as they meet next month to start crafting a new state budget.”
State investments topped out at $17.6 billion at the end of 2013, according to Neary’s story.
The Pinedale Roundup reported JC Penney is closing 33 underperforming stores across the country in an effort to focus its resources on what’s left. The move is expected to save the struggling retail giant approximately $65 million.
None of the store closings are in Wyoming, where the original store opened in Kemmerer in 1902.
Leadership change for annual fall event
While the Western Design Conference is still a long way away (Sept. 4-7, 2014), the annual Jackson Hole event has been in the news of late.
Jackson resident Allison Merritt made headlines last week when she purchased the conference from Powder Mountain Press/News&Guide. The show was founded in Cody 22 years ago and moved to Jackson in 2007. Merritt was the events manager for every Jackson Hole show.
As the new WDC executive director, Merritt says she plans to expand the show to include “every facet of design in the West, and to appeal to markets ranging from young, new customers to established collectors.”
Courthouse closure spurs bill
Several national and regional news outlets reported on the bill proposed by U.S. Sens. John Barrasso and Mike Enzi that would allow the transfer of ownership of the courthouse in Jackson from the federal government to Teton County.
The feds are in the process of disposing of the courthouse and property and without the conveyance they would either sell it to the county or to a private developer at auction. The county gave the .14 acre lot on East Simpson to the federal government in 1986 to build the Clifford Hansen Federal Courthouse.
The two Republican senators from Wyoming also co-sponsored a 52-page bill with a bipartisan group of 57 fellow legislators that would introduce tougher sanctions on Iran as a penalty for that country’s continued nuclear ambitions. Obama said he would veto the bill if it makes it to his desk, calling it nothing more than a “march to war.”
Longmire re-ups in Land of Enchantment
The good news is Longmire will return for a third season on A&E. The bad news is it will once again shoot in New Mexico.
The popular crime drama starring Robert Taylor as the grizzled Wyoming sheriff from Craig Johnson’s novels series, will begin production in and around Santa Fe and at Garson Studios at Santa Fe University of Art and Design, according to sources at the New Mexico Film Office.
The series has been a sleeper hit for A&E, pulling in more than four million viewers per episode through the first two seasons. Insiders credit benefits from New Mexico’s revised state tax incentives, which offer a 30 percent rebate to a series that films more than six episodes.
Stories were published in the Albuquerque Journal and Santa Fe Mexican.
Spark is lit
Spark, Jackson’s shared workspace, opened Monday. The second floor space offers a mix of private office, dedicated and shared desk space.
Mark Wilcox previewed the concept in a Wyoming Business Report story. He called it a possible first-of-its-kind venture.
Megan Beck (Vittana) co-founded Spark along with Jim Fini (Enservio), Bradley Krugh (SeeYourImpact Technologies Inc.), and Jeremy Hopple (Visible Measures). For $190 a month, users have full-time access to the shared workspace, with $275 a month securing a desk. Day rates are also available.