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wyoming economy

Buffalo To Be Featured On HGTV Show

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By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily

Buffalo is in the spotlight for a new HGTV show that intends to give parts of the town a makeover.

But some residents fear the attention might backfire for the community with a population of 4,593 nestled at the foot of the Bighorn Mountains in northern Wyoming, best known for its annual “Longmire Days” festival.

The “Home Town Kickstart Presented by PEOPLE” program has three goals for each community it visits, according to HGTV. 

First, refresh the home of a local hero; second, give a small business a beautiful upgrade; and third, reinvigorate a public space.

“I think it is a great thing for Buffalo and the people and small businesses,” said Krista Palmer, who has lived in Buffalo her entire life. “It will let people know how special a place Buffalo really is.”

Staff at Buffalo City Hall agree, according to City Clerk/Treasurer Julie Silbernagel.

“It all started with someone nominating Buffalo,” she told Cowboy State Daily. “I  have no idea who nominated us, but production company representatives visited Buffalo this summer and determined that our town would be a good fit for the show.”

Buffalo is one of six communities selected from thousands of submissions to HGTV to receive this “kickstart.” Others selected for the show were Cornwall, New York, Winslow, Arizona, LaGrange, Kentucky, Thomaston, Georgia, and Minden, Louisiana.

According to the network, each communities will benefit from the expertise of the popular network stars used to lead the makeovers and added visibility from an appearance the popular magazine “People.”

“We are thrilled to highlight stories about everyday heroes working towards positive change in their communities,” commented Dan Wakeford, People magazine’s editor-in-chief.

But not everyone is excited about the attention. Comments on Sheridan Media’s story about the selection revealed concern by some residents.

“This a terribly sad thing,” said one commenter, who said he grew up in western Wyoming and watched his community be destroyed by development and media exposure. “Rural gentrification rips apart long standing communities and upends the values that make small towns special.”

On the other hand, some residents see this as an opportunity to breathe life into what is primarily a tourist town.

“Buffalo needs something that caters more to its locals,” said Penny Corbett, who has lived in Buffalo her entire life. “I, for one, am someone who shops out of town, shops on Amazon, because I don’t want to buy my kids and grandkids birthday presents at Family Dollar, nor do I want to buy a $55 blouse for my 5-year-old granddaughter at a downtown store.”

Corbett pointed out that since Shopko closed down a few years ago, the town doesn’t have any sort of department store that provides essentials for residents.

“When I was growing up, we had The Cobbler (shoe store),” she explained. “We had the New York Store and the Pants and Tops Shop. We had places in town where you could go and get what you needed.”

But because of the town’s small size, Corbett said residents pay more for services and goods in Buffalo than they might in nearby Sheridan (with more than three times Buffalo’s population), even though both towns are on interstate highways. 

“One of the things that I’ve learned about Buffalo as an adult is that we pay higher shipping rates,” she said. “Nobody has an explanation for it. Two major interstates go through here — the gas truck has to drive right by Buffalo to get Sheridan, and yet (Sheridan’s) gas prices are lower than ours. Makes no sense.”

So from Corbett’s perspective, a little “revitalization” might go a long way towards giving the town a much-needed economic boost. 

“To have somebody come in here, like HGTV, to help revitalize a downtown business and help maybe a couple of other stores that are trying to cater more towards locals, with a flair to attract tourists as well, it could show Buffalo in a different light.”

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Buford, Wyoming: Smallest Town in the U.S., Cheapest Gas in Wyoming

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

Last week the tiny town of Buford, Wyoming, was a buzzing topic on a Cheyenne Facebook news group.

Cheap gas was what the members of the page were talking about and many claimed that the four-pump gas station in the middle of a windswept prairie on Interstate 80 had the cheapest gas in Wyoming.

This was a change. Almost a decade ago, when the gas station and the town of Buford made international news for being purchased for $900,000 by a Vietnamese businessman, the gas sold there was among the most expensive — if not the most expensive — in the state.

Now, according to GasBuddy, an internet site that tracks gas prices in the country, Buford stands alone as the cheapest place in the Cowboy State to buy gas — at least it was on Monday.

At $2.84 a gallon for regular, it was more than $1 less than some stations in Cheyenne. The story was the same for premium gasoline.

Why, when an owner could get away with charging through the nose because of its remote location, is gas so inexpensive in Buford?

It’s the business strategy of Mintu Pandher, the owner of Akal Energy who also owns a truck stop 20 miles west of Laramie in Queally Dome, the Tumbleweed gas station in Laramie and a few other gas stations in Colorado and New Mexico.

Pandher, who will not sell cigarettes, alcohol, or lottery tickets in any of his locations, said it’s an ethical decision for him to keep the prices low because people need to buy gasoline.

“It’s not like a Louis Vuitton purse where they have a choice. People have no choice, they have to buy fuel,” Pandher told Cowboy State Daily.

He compared fuel to utilities such as electricity or natural gas.

“There’s a cap on how much they can sell it. But for fuel, there is no cap,” he said. “Anyone can charge anything.”

Pandher, who lives in Laramie, said he is against government overreach but felt like there should be some limit on gas prices because it is a necessity.

He said he feels for the consumer who purchases gasoline for $3.89 a gallon in one location and then fives miles down the road sees a place where they could have bought it for $2.79.

“That’s $9 that you could have used for lunch or your kids’ lunch,” he said. “And someone took that away.”

Gas station owners are still making money even at the lower price, he said

“You’re not taking his cake away,” he said. “But you did take $9 away from someone’s pocket and that’s what bothers me.”

Pandher, who has been in the fuel transport business since 1999, isn’t waiting around for government to step in. He’s using what he calls the greed of others, to build his own competitive advantage. 

He can sell gas cheaper because he buys it cheaper. In fact, he “chases it.”

Pandher watches where fuel is being sold at the cheapest amount and sends his fleet of trucks to that location to fill up.

He said he has 19 fuel trucks in his fleet and they were dispatched two weeks ago to El Paso where he could buy cheap fuel and bring it up to his gas stations.

Does it pay off?  Absolutely, he said. High volume is the key.

“Look at the Tumbleweed in Laramie. It’s a little dinky gas station but it stays busy day and night,” he said.

Back to the Facebook page, many people from Cheyenne make the 40-mile round trip trek to Buford, they say, to save money.

“I buy my gas there. Best price in Wyoming and way less than Cheyenne,” said Rodger McDaniel, a former Wyoming legislator who now serves as a pastor in Cheyenne.

“I stop there several times a week,” Claude Womble wrote. “I work in Laramie but live in Cheyenne. This is my fuel stop, I try and give them all the business I can.

“Sorry Cheyenne unless you can compete with their fuel prices my business goes to them!!” Womble added.

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Microsoft Opens Two New Data Centers In Cheyenne

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By Dan Swinhoe, Data Center Dynamics

Microsoft has launched two new data centers in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

The company announced the new facilities – one in the Cheyenne Business Parkway and another in Bison Business Park — to support its West Central US Azure region.

“Expanding Microsoft’s digital capabilities in Wyoming will allow us to meet the demand for new and existing customers in the region, and we’re excited to continue supporting the growth of diverse businesses in the state and look forward to working with state and local leaders on initiatives that can foster job creation and economic opportunity,” said Sergio Loureiro, Microsoft’s VP of core operations for data centers.

The company said sustainability was important and it was making “significant efforts” in water conservation and preserving Cheyenne’s water resources through adiabatic cooling and donations to local organizations working on preserving the region’s watershed.

“In addition to building data centers, Microsoft is investing in new water, sewer, and road infrastructure to create easier access to Bison Business Park, which will also support the growth of new businesses in Wyoming,” added Loureiro.

Microsoft has had a data center presence in Wyoming since 2012 and expanded its footprint there in 2014. The West Central Azure region opened in 2016; the site currently only has one Availability Zone so the new facilities should see that upped to the standard three.

Cheyenne is also the site of Microsoft’s ‘Data Plant’ concept to create an off-grid data center powered by methane that opened in 2014.

“The growth of the data center industry in Wyoming has been led by Microsoft and it is coming to represent a significant sign of the continued diversification of our economy. I appreciate Microsoft’s commitment to Wyoming and thank them for the benefits they have brought to multiple sectors of our economy,” said Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon.

“Governor Mead was the inspiration for bringing the first Microsoft Data Center to the state in 2012. The incentives that set this train in motion are working. This is a sector of our growing economy that continues to pick up steam,” he said.

“Additional data centers are a great win for Cheyenne and all of Laramie County,” added Cheyenne Mayor Patrick Collins. “With it comes more high tech opportunities, a skilled workforce, and expands upon Microsoft’s existing economic impact to our community.”

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Wyoming Industry Groups Say Federal Infrastructure Bill Will Be Good For Business

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By Elyse Kelly, The Center Square

Some Wyoming industry groups say the $1.2 trillion federal infrastructure bill will be good for business in the Cowboy State.

As far as transportation goes, it’s definitely a win, according to Katie Legerski, executive director for Associated General Contractors of Wyoming, the members of which are mostly people in horizontal construction including highways, roads and bridges.

Roads, bridges, airports, rail transit, water systems, the power grid, broadband internet and more are all targets of the spending bill with an emphasis on Democratic pet issues like climate change mitigation.

Legerski also sees the bill as an economic boon.

“We see for every $1 put into construction on a regular basis it turns over four to six times in the local economy, and it would also assist the contractors as well with additional projects,” she told The Center Square.

For a number of years, highways in Wyoming have been under a preservation system because it lacked funds, according to Legerski, who cited a study by the Wyoming Department of Transportation stating it was short $190 million a year for surface transportation infrastructure. 

“Our roads are beginning to deteriorate at a pretty alarming rate,” she said. “What we’re finding is for every $1 not spent today, it’s going to cost us $4 to $8 in the future to take care of that road.”

For Wyoming as a whole, transportation, the energy grid, and broadband are going to get a lot of play, according to Wyoming Business Council CEO Josh Dorrell.

Dorrell said the infrastructure bill is “speaking Wyoming’s language.”

“When you talk about energy: so you think about carbon management, hydrogen, critical minerals and materials, even renewable energy and nuclear energy and advanced manufacturing – those are all squarely within Wyoming’s economic strategy, and we have a lot of the groundwork and resources ready to go to mobilize in all of those areas,” he told The Center Square.

Legerski is excited to see her state receive additional funding, and expects it to help sustain its workforce and transportation network so commerce can grow through safe and effective roads.

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Outdoor Recreation Bolstered Wyoming’s Economy In 2020, Despite Pandemic

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Even though total income dropped, outdoor recreation still contributed 3.4% to Wyoming’s gross domestic product as park visitation numbers increased and more people took part in some outdoor activities, according to the latest numbers released by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

According to the bureau, the total value added by outdoor recreation to the state’s gross domestic product dropped from $1.69 billion in 2019 to $1.25 billion in 2020, with the total contribution dropping from 4.2% to 3.4% of the total. 

Employment in the sector saw a decrease from 21,344 to 14,187 but the percentage of total wages declined only 0.1%.

“Many outdoor activities saw significant growth, including snowmobiling and (off-road vehicle) riding, which saw an increase in permit sales of over 18% and 16% respectively from 2019 to 2020.”  said Chris Floyd, Manager of the Wyoming Office of Outdoor Recreation.  “Although the overall outdoor recreation economic impact numbers declined, most of the losses in the sector were due to limits on a few activities, such as snow skiing and outdoor events, which experienced heavy impacts due to closures and other restrictions during the pandemic.”

There were also increases in the economic impact of boating and fishing by 79%, bicycling by 13%, climbing/hiking/tent camping by 6%, motorcycling and ATV riding by 5% and RV camping by 2.5%.

Wyoming state park visitation in 2020 increased by 41% over 2019 and other managers of other public lands reported similar increases in use. The growth helped increase economic activity statewide as other economic sectors saw declines during the pandemic, according to the Wyoming State Parks and Cultural Resources.

Wyoming was ranked fourth nationally in value added in both percentage of GDP and percentage of total wages in 2020, trailing only Hawaii, Vermont and Montana.

Many Wyoming businesses reported strong sales of outdoor recreation equipment and vehicles, which would have been even higher had supply chains been able to keep up with the demand, officials said.

The economic impact from snow activities, particularly at ski resorts, saw a decline of 37% or $40 million, which wiped out many gains in other recreational activities.  Equestrian activities and hunting and shooting sports also declined by 28% and 21% respectively.

“Our gross sales were up over 40% in 2020 compared to 2019 and it is continuing through (2021) where we have surpassed 2020 gross sales year to date,” said Mark Black, owner of Cycle City Wyoming, a powersports business in Evanston. “Our issue now is the supply chain, where the manufacturers are limiting not only quantities but models as well, and sometimes shipping incomplete units that are waiting on chips for instrument clusters. The demand has been pretty consistent and I don’t see it dramatically decreasing for the near future.” 

Wyoming State Parks expects next year’s BEA report to show that outdoor recreation activities played a strong role in the state’s economic rebound, particularly since most closures and travel restrictions were eased or lifted.  

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Lummis Criticizes Biden’s Use of Strategic Petroleum Reserve As a “Hail Mary”

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

President Joe Biden’s decision to release 50 million barrels of crude from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in an effort to lower gas prices is a “short-sighted Hail Mary,” according to U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis.

The White House on Tuesday announced the U.S. — along with five other countries, including China — will all dip into their national reserves in an effort to assuage the soaring prices.

Lummis said the increase in gas prices — up over $1 per gallon from a year ago — is of Biden’s own doing.

“One of President Biden’s first executive orders stopped new energy leases on federal land,” Lummis said. 

“He has continued to push policies that harm Wyoming energy workers and families & raised prices on anyone who relies on fossil fuels to heat their homes or power their vehicles — basically everyone,” she said.

“Turning to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve is a short-sighted Hail Mary to try and fix the problem he’s actively exacerbating without actually taking responsibility for it,” she added.

It’s particularly hard here in the Cowboy State because of the number of miles Wyomingites drive, per capita — averaging more than 18,000 per year, the highest mileage in the nation.

No other state comes close to that. Alabama is a distant second with drivers averaging 14,500 miles per year.

Gas prices in the U.S. are the highest since President Obama was in office with the national average for a gallon of gas at $3.40 on Monday — up from $2.11 a year ago.

Many analysts believe Tuesday’s action won’t make a difference to consumers.

“For drivers wondering if gasoline prices will get lower…the reality is that this may not happen at all, or only with a significant lag time,” Bjornar Tonhaugen, head of oil-market research at consulting firm Rystad Energy, told the Wall Street Journal.

Lummis sent a letter to the president on Monday explaining that domestic energy producers have increased prices because of “depressed investment in our production due to regulatory uncertainty.”

“Business leaders are reluctant to make complex, long-term investments in expensive new wells, pipelines, and other infrastructure critical to increasing production and keeping American energy prices low if these projects will be delayed or overly burdened by new, expansive regulations or taxes,” she wrote.

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Cost of Wyoming Thanksgiving Dinner Up 15% From Last Year

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By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily

Make no mistake, Thanksgiving dinner is as affected by inflation as gasoline.

This year, consumers will pay almost 15% more for their holiday gathering than they did last year, according to various experts.

Farm Bureau Insurance reports the cost of a traditional Thanksgiving feast for 10 people this year will cost $53.31. While less than $10 per person, it is a 14% increase from last year’s average of $46.90.

The shopping list for Farm Bureau’s informal survey included turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, a veggie tray, pumpkin pie with whipped cream, and coffee and milk.

A spot survey of prices by Cowboy State Daily also revealed increases in the cost of the annual meal.

According to flyers from a Wyoming grocery store printed in 2020 and 2021, turkey prices have risen almost 10%. In 2020, the sale price of a turkey was 89 cents per pound — a figure that increased to 99 cents per pound this year.

The stuffing to accompany that turkey, meanwhile increased in price by more than 11% — from $1.50 per box in 2020 to $1.67 per box in 2021.

The cost of some items, such as canned cranberry sauce, canned yams, and 10-pounds bag of potatoes, stayed virtually the same, as did a store-bought pumpkin pie. 

But a jar of Heinz gravy doubled in price, from $2 per jar to $3.99, and the price of a tube of crescent rolls increased from $1.49 to $1.99.

“Several factors contributed to the increase in average cost of this year’s Thanksgiving dinner,” said American Farm Bureau Federation Senior Economist Veronica Nigh. “These include dramatic disruptions to the U.S. economy and supply chains over the last 20 months; inflationary pressure throughout the economy; difficulty in predicting demand during the COVID-19 pandemic and high global demand for food, particularly meat.” 

Nigh added that the trend of consumers cooking and eating at home more often due to the pandemic led to increased supermarket demand and higher retail food prices in 2020 and 2021, compared to pre-pandemic prices in 2019.  

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Supply Chain Breakdown Affects Wyoming Retailers

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By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily

Transportation issues, labor shortages and global politics are having the same impact on locally owned retail stores as they are on their larger colleagues.

Retailers in Wyoming are reporting they are having troubles meeting the demands of their hometown customers due to the same supply chain “breakdown” seen across the country.

Sarah Growney, owner of The Thistle gift shop in Cody, said many of the items she would normally carry around this time of year just haven’t arrived yet.

“I ordered everything for Christmas in January,” she said. “It was the absolute earliest I was able to order. But a lot of the Christmas decor items, things like that – they’re still sitting in freight containers on the ocean. I haven’t received a single Christmas tree, including for my own shop, so we’re like the shop without a Christmas tree. It’s a little sad.”

Such delays are costly for a store like The Thistle, especially at this time of year.

“It’s not going to do me much good if I get it Dec. 15,” Growney said. “In fact, that’ll hose me. So that’s the other game we’re playing. It’s checking in with our vendors constantly because you don’t want to get a big Christmas decor display Dec. 5.” 

Growney said even the production of locally made products if being delayed because of shortages of supplies made in other parts of the country.

“This is an American made candle, it’s out of Sheridan, Wyoming,” she said. “But even though it’s American made, they’re still delayed because they can’t get their glass. So even if the product is made in the U.S., they might rely on something coming from overseas, and that’s causing them delay.”

The supply issues are having negative effects on all businesses, from retail stores to the auto industry. 

Bert Miller, general manager the Denny Menolt auto dealership in Cody, said the dealership’s ability to sell vehicles has been hampered by circumstances halfway around the world.

“We’ve got a lot of cars that are built, but they’re waiting for their microprocessors, which has slowed things up dramatically,” Miller said. “When we have countries like Malaysia that went down with COVID, and shut down the microchip processor plants, that’s why you see our lot is short about 100 new vehicles.”

And although they are selling some vehicles, Miller noted that delivery for many customers is being delayed significantly.

“You know, normal sold orders will take maybe 60 days,” he said. “And now we’re looking at about four months with the shipping and everything impacting it, and the micro-processors are a tremendous problem.”

But auto sales operations like Denny Menholt don’t just sell cars – the company services them as well. And parts have been hard to come by.

“We’re just doing the best for our customers,” Miller said. “We might have to loan them a vehicle. Sometimes we can get things done within a week, if those parts are really on backorder, but we rely on the GM chain and we do everything we can to get their vehicle fixed.”

Both Miller and Growney cite transportation issues as a weak link in the supply chain.

“The trains really hamper us because the rail cars have to go where the vehicles are ready,” Miller said. “So they’ll move the rail cars around, and then about the time the plant’s got some vehicles going out, they have to get the rail cars back in. And of course, they can’t roll things without them being full. So when they do reach the trucking facility, then we’re waiting to get full loads to roll those trucks. So there’s a tremendous delay.”

“It’s real, what you’re watching on the news,” said Growney. “They’re like, ‘Well, we have five containers on the ocean, we might get one in tomorrow.’ I’ve never had to deal with this.”

Growney added there are businesses between the suppliers and the store owners that are also affected.

“My concern is for the vendors,” she said. “Like, if I don’t get my product, they’re not getting paid.” 

But businesses are trying to stay positive, despite the obstacles.

“Fortunately, we carry a little bit of something for everyone, so the shop is plentiful,” Growney said. “But I know what we’re missing. We’re going to have a great Christmas, but it’s frustrating.”

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Powell Brewery Takes First Step In Distribution

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By Mark Davis, Powell Tribune

There was a flurry of activity on an otherwise typically tranquil early Sunday morning on Bent Street. Massive machine parts were squeezed through the double doors at WYOld West Brewing Company and carefully reassembled into what little room was available between the business’s numerous towering conical tanks.

It barely fit, but somehow they made it work and by 9 a.m the company was making history: filling their first cans of craft beer for distribution. It’s the company’s first toe dipped in the marketing pool outside their popular brewery and restaurant. 

WYOld West’s first move was to produce 400 cases of beer. Soon it will be hitting shelves across Wyoming, including local stores and a limited supply at the Powell restaurants. 

Before the first green can of Kilted Cowboy Scottish Ale made its way down the production line, the project was already a success, said head brewer Steve Samuelson: Almost the entire run of 1,200 gallons of beer have already sold.

It took months, if not years of planning, he said. Still, there were exposed nerves as the production line was tweaked and the crew slowly began assembling pallets of two brews, which also included Bronc Buster Blonde Ale. 

The process has taxed the brew crew. They had to make enough beer to both fill the cans and ensure they wouldn’t run out in their locations in Powell and Cody. The recipe also had to be altered. Originally the beers were unfiltered, but that had to change to accommodate the canning process.

If the test run is successful, WYOld will start the process over and do a second round of canning in about six weeks. “We’ve had the goal of canning our beer for years now,” said head chef and investor Ryan Gutierrez. “This is an exciting opportunity for a company.”

Getting beer out to fans across the state is the first step in a much more ambitious plan.

“This is just the tip of the iceberg,” said co-owner Jessica Laughlin.

If all goes well, the company will build a new location to accommodate a permanent canning facility, coupled with a larger brewing set-up, she said. They also hope to add more of their 13 flavors to the distribution list. But first they had to fill orders by Teton Distributing and Quality Brands of Cheyenne.

Laughlin credited Samuelson for improving the brews and speeding up the distribution plan. Samuelson has been in the business for decades, moving to Powell from Seattle for his current position.

“They brought me in to improve recipes and make beer to can,” he said. “I love it here. The pace is better — really good for me and my wife.”

Tyler Evans, sous chef for the restaurant, patiently fielded jokes coming from his co-workers as the cans rolled off the production line in six-packs. 

Evans is the new face of Kilted Cowboy, the brewery’s best selling beer. When he modeled for the label he was told nobody would recognize him. Yet he couldn’t be more recognizable in the picture. But it’s not his face, or even his “ZZ Top” whiskers that were the butt of jokes; it’s his attire. Evans is pictured in a kilt, cowboy boots and hat tipping back a beer. He sported a big grin when he first saw the cans.

Cody Regional Health

“I bet your wife will never want to see you in those boots again,” one of the crew members quipped. 

The jokes rolled off of him like water on a duck.

“It’s pretty cool. I’m pretty excited about it,” Evans said. “It turned out really good and I ended up on a beer that I really enjoy.”

The photograph of Evans and the designs were created by Kelly Laughlin — owner of Design | Print | Market with Kelly, a brewery employee and Jessica’s mom. For the Bronc Buster Blonde Ale label, Mariah Joy was photographed by Northwest College professor Morgan Tyree at the Trapper rodeo arena.

Like everything in the process, WYOld West tries to make sure every move it makes, from the grains used to produce the beer to business decisions, is done locally. Every can carries their motto: “Grown here, brewed here.”

The production line was brought in by Montana Canning. They travel around the region subcontracting for breweries, using a Wild Goose filling station with a proprietary six-pack assembler to save the time of piecing together the packs by hand.

“We stay pretty busy,” said Naomi Gerheim, one half of the canning crew along with husband Tim. “We’re going to be in Livingston [Montana] for a couple days right after this.”

While bottles continue to dominate beer packaging, that dominance is slipping to cans, according to the Brewers Association, a national organization for small and independent craft brewers.

“Bottles still clearly outsell cans, but the can percentage continues to rise,” economist Bart Watson said in a recent article. “Note that the percentage rise isn’t because of a decline in bottle sales (which have continued to climb), but simply because the increase in can sales has been faster than the increase in bottle sales.”

Naomi Gerheim said cans are more convenient.

“You can you can take it anywhere. If you want to go hunting or if you want to go on the river or hiking, it’s a lot easier to carry,” she said, comparing them to bottles or growlers. They are also easier to recycle, she said. 

Social distancing due to the COVID-19 pandemic was a double whammy on the craft beer industry. Not only was business driven out of pubs and restaurants, but shipping and production of canning materials was adversely affected while many micro breweries attempted to begin canning their brews to get beer into customers’ hands.

At least until WYOld West can build a new facility, Montana Canning will be making trips to Wyoming, getting Powell brews ready to ship.

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Report: Wyoming Ranks 3rd For Fiscal Health, Gets ‘A’ Grade

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By Robert Davis, The Center Square

Wyoming earned an “A” grade for its fiscal health, according to a new report by fiscal watchdog group Truth in Accounting (TIA).

The state has a tax surplus of more than $19,500 per resident, TIA found, which ranks as the third-highest surplus in the country behind Alaska and North Dakota, respectively. Only 11 states have enough money to pay all their fiscal obligations, according to the report.

“The majority of states were financially unprepared for any crisis,” TIA CEO Sheila Weinberg said in a statement. “When states can’t pay their bills, taxpayers are on the hook.”

Wyoming, however, “had more than enough resources available,” according to the report, which noted the state’s $3.8 billion surplus is due in part to revenue it collects from the energy industry.

The average tax burden across the country was more than $9,300 last year, representing a more than 20% climb from 2019, according to the report.

TIA calculated state tax burdens by dividing the funds each state needs to pay its bills by the estimated number of state taxpayers. Similarly, tax surpluses were calculated by dividing the total amount of money left over after all a state’s bills were paid by the number of taxpayers.

The report said a majority of state debt comes from retirement plans such as pensions and retiree health care benefits. States set aside an average of $0.64 to fund pension promises and $0.08 to fund retiree health care last year, according to TIA.

Once the pandemic hit, funding for these obligations was shattered, leaving most states with far less money to pay out its growing obligations.

Wyoming’s retirement system netted a more than 27% return with more than $9.6 billion in assets and just $375 million in private debt, according to Wyoming’s retirement system financial outlook report.

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