Monday, March 25, 2013

Memo to Rep. Hunt: With more population comes more Liberals and inevitable change

The U.S. Census Bureau shows that Casper is the eighth fastest growing metro area in the U.S. while Cheyenne is number twenty. Some Natrona County businesses aren't so sure that the boom is here to stay. Stewart Moving & Storage reports that its ratio of move-ins to move-outs is about 50/50. This is probably due to the recent downturn in the energy biz since the Census numbers were tallied in mid-2012. Cheyenne, however, is a different story. This was in today's Casper Star-Trib:
People are moving to Cheyenne to cash in on the city’s transformation as a technology hub, economists and demographers say.

“I think the main reason is we had that super computer open last year,” said Wenlin Liu, a senior economist with the Wyoming Division of Economic Analysis, referring to the National Center for Atmospheric Research-Wyoming Supercomputing Center. “There’s also the plan to open the Microsoft data storage center. These created an image about Laramie County, I think that helped. People probably moved in.”
Before the supercomputer and Microsoft Corp. eyed Cheyenne, there were other high-tech companies doing business in the city. Those companies paved the way, said Randy Bruns, CEO of Cheyenne LEADS, the Cheyenne-Laramie County Corporation for Economic Development.

From Cheyenne, EchoStar Corp. flies satellites, has an uplink data center and a data storage center. Green House Data has a storage center. Aside from four outlet stores, Sierra Trading Post sells outdoor clothing and gear online. “The technology behind all of their Web work is right here,” Bruns said.

When high-tech companies observe other high-tech companies' success in a region, they consider it as a place to relocate, Bruns said.

John Shepard, a senior planner for Laramie County, knows firsthand about growth. He moved his wife and three children from Slayton, Minn., to Cheyenne for his new job in November. He believes the relatively low cost of doing business in Cheyenne is attracting people.

“People who would be priced out of the Denver market can have a small business or machine shop,” he said.
A few weeks ago, I was talking to Dean Dexter. He's the founder of Gizmojo, a company that builds "seriously cool exhibits and graphics," designer of the education exhibits at the new NCAR/UW Supercomputing Center east of Cheyenne. Gizmojo just merged with Warehouse 21. Warehouse 21/Gizmojo staffers work among the bare bricks and exposed pipes of a renovated warehouse on Snyder Avenue. Gizmojo is renovating the old garage space in the building as a place to design and assemble its displays.

Dean moved his company from Huntsville, Ala., a few years ago. He tells the same story that I heard from Microsoft's Gregg McKnight at the Wyoming Broadband Summit last fall. The city's business leaders welcomed him with open arms. "Western hospitality," you might say, although I'm not always clear on what that means. Cheyenne LEADS as put out the read carpet for the Wal-Mart and Lowe's distribution centers, as well as various data center and the NCAR/UW project. This sort of public/private partnership has helped spawn a boom in Laramie County, boosting our population 2 percent since 2011, making Laramie County the home to 16 percent of the state's population. Our population is nearing 95,000. Wonder if we'll throw a party when that reaches 100,000?

Some of us will. The Tea Party, anti-Agenda 21 crowd may hold a wake. To them, growth means change and the threat of more Liberals rolling in with the data centers and small businesses and an unreasonable expectation to fund the arts with public money. They will want change. You know, more coffee shops and brew pubs and public transportation and the filling in of the downtown hole. Heavens to Betsy! Just like Rep. Hans Hunt's response to a Cheyenne Liberal during the most recent legislative session. "If you don't like Wyoming the way it is, move back to the Liberal Shangri-la you came from." I'm paraphrasing here. I doubt if Rep. Hunt knows James Hilton's book wherein Shangri-la dwells. There you go again. Just like a know-it-all Liberal to think that a guy that represents rural constituencies in Weston/Niobrara/Crook counties doesn't (or can't) read.

OK, I'm guilty. Rep. Hunt's letter ticked me off. Talk about your conservative know-it-all.

But I digress. I bid welcome to all of you newcomers. I know that for every 10 Republicans that move into the county, there will be five others that are Democrats or have Democratic sympathies. That's the ratio of Ds to Rs in Laramie County. They may not arrive in the same truck or minivan (alas, some will drive a Prius), but come they will, followed by an inevitable push for change.

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