Accountable USA - Wyoming

Natural resource-rich Wyoming tends not to use state-level subsidies to chase major investments. One exception involved the state’s decision to contribute $20 million toward the cost of building a supercomputer center for the non-profit National Center for Atmospheric Research (see below).  Although property tax abatements are generally not available, localities have occasionally put together subsidy packages, such as the $2.4 million deal offered to Lowe’s for a distribution center in Cheyenne (see below).

Like many other states, Wyoming subsidizes film productions.  The state does not issue income tax credits but allows cash refunds based on taxes paid.  The program has issued $1.8 million in tax refunds since its inception.  In 2010 Wyoming enacted a tax break to entice large-scale data centers to move to the state; it exempts equipment purchases for data storage centers and server farms from sales and use tax.

Wyoming began disclosing its economic development subsidies with the Business Ready Communities program transparency site.

Key Subsidy Programs

Subsidy Program Recent Annual
Cost
Online Recipient
Disclosure
Recipient Disclosure
Score
Job-Creation/
Job-Quality Score**
Monitoring/
Enforcement Score***

Business Ready Communities Grants

financing for private development projects up to $1.5 million per business

unknown
68/100
not included
not included

Business Ready Communities Managed Data Center Cost Reduction Grants

financing for data center infrastructure improvements with a maximum award of $2.25 million per project

$15 million
56/100
not included
not included

Data Processing Center – Sales/Use Tax Exemption

sales and use tax exemption on computing equipment purchases exceeding $2 million per year by data processing centers

not available
0/100
10/100
38/100

Film Industry Financial Incentive

cash rebate of up to 15% of the value of expenditures made by film productions

$1.1 million (FY2013)
23/100
10/100
38/100

Pre-hire Workforce Training Grant

workforce training grants provided to businesses and workforce training organizations

unknown
0/100
not included
not included

* The score is derived from the Good Jobs First report Show Us the Subsidized Jobs (January 2014).

** The score is derived from the Good Jobs First report Money for Something (December 2011).

*** The score is derived from the Good Jobs First report Money-Back Guarantees for Taxpayers (January 2012).

Major Subsidy Deals

National Center for Atmospheric Research (2007)

In January 2007 the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) announced that it had settled on Cheyenne as the site for its planned supercomputer center. NCAR is a non-profit entity managed by the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research and is primarily funded by the National Science Foundation.  To land the project, the state, which is usually not inclined to provide major subsidy packages, agreed to contribute $20 million toward the estimated $70 million cost of the project and to issue $40 million in bonds that would be paid off by NCAR. In February 2010 the Laramie County Commission approved a plan to use $4.5 million in state money for infrastructure improvements around the NCAR site, where construction had not yet begun. Groundbreaking finally occurred in June 2010. The center is expected to begin operation in 2012. (Key sources)

Lowe’s distribution center (2001)

In January 2001 home improvement retailer Lowe’s announced plans to construct a 900,000-square-foot regional distribution center in Cheyenne, bringing with it about 425 jobs. The city and Laramie County agreed to spend about $2.4 million on infrastructure improvements for the project, which officials said would be the largest building in the state. The size of the facility was later expanded to 1.1 million square feet. Lowe’s later tried to reduce its property tax bill by challenging the assessed value set by the county. The company lost several challenges before the county and state boards of equalization. (Key sources)

Walmart in Wyoming

  • At least 1 Wal-Mart location has received subsidies worth about $6.3 million in Wyoming.
  • At least 1 Wal-Mart location in Wyoming has challenged its property tax assessment.
  • Many Wal-Mart workers are ineligible for health coverage from their employer or choose not to purchase what is available, because it is too expensive or too limited in scope. These workers often turn to taxpayer-funded health programs such as Medicaid. Wyoming among those states that have not disclosed data on the employers with the most workers or their dependents enrolled in such programs.

For more information, see the Wyoming page of Wal-Mart Subsidy Watch.