Community Assessment: Business Expansion and Retention

The Community Assessment is a critical step in understanding the Cheyenne area’s position and the issues that it faces in an increasingly competitive environment for new jobs, talent, and corporate investment. Below is just a segment from the full Community Assessment report.

Economic Composition in Greater Cheyenne

Self-employment, an indicator of the community’s entrepreneurial spirit and potential, in Greater Cheyenne is comparatively low. Just over six percent of all jobs in Greater Cheyenne are occupied by those who are self-employed, lagging behind all comparison geographies except Minnehaha County. Self-employment rates and entrepreneurship are often considerably higher in more well-educated communities, particularly those that are home to major research universities (for example, the rate of self-employment in Boulder, Colorado is roughly 8 percent).

Recall that stakeholders identified a more “innovative” economy among the desired attributes that comprised their vision for Greater Cheyenne. Cultivating entrepreneurship is a difficult but sensible strategy for communities; a wealth of evidence illustrates that entrepreneurs and existing businesses are the overwhelming sources of new job creation in this country and its communities as opposed to corporate relocation projects. Stakeholders commented that the community is generally lacking in terms of support services for small businesses, and particularly, technology-oriented entrepreneurs. Multiple stakeholders suggested that the community’s dichotomy with respect to preferred identity and image could potentially be addressed through agricultural technology and innovation, blending the community’s roots and heritage with its modern economic vision. Others have suggested that this vision for a more entrepreneurial community be supported by place-based investments in downtown that help attract and retain the “best and brightest.” Regardless of whether its future growth and prosperity emerges from entrepreneurship, existing business expansions, or continued success with certain corporate relocation projects, the community will need to ensure that it maintains an attractive climate for business and proactively invests in an asset base and policies that support diversified, innovative economic growth consistent with the community’s vision.

Rachel Girt