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Making Wyoming a leader in supporting and promoting blockchain technology is a great way to attract entrepreneurial technologists to our state to start and support new businesses. But are regulatory incentives enough to keep them here? Will their spouses and kids be excited to relocate to Wyoming? And will our UW grads with the new Blockchain Certificate stay or be lured to other states? One sure way to attract new business and prevent youth outmigration is to grow our cultural and creative economy through innovative public stimulus investment and unique new funding strategies. Wyoming’s creative and cultural arts sectors are currently estimated to be between 3-5 percent of our state’s economy. I believe the cultural landscape of our state is as significant of a factor in our economy as the physical landscape that attracts so many visitors and residents. According to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, in 2014, there were 11,451 jobs devoted to our state’s creative sector and Wyoming employment in the arts and cultural sector was 30 percent above the national average, second only to New York. This sector produces sales of $115,652,913 and estimated local and state taxes revenues between $17 and $23 million. For every dollar spent in the creative and cultural sector, an additional 44 cents is generated in the economy from other businesses.

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With a modest time-limited increase in state investment in the creative and cultural infrastructure, Wyoming could grow this sector, perhaps to as much as 10 percent of our economy in 10 years. That would bring thousands of new jobs to the state, including independent artists and authors, people working in museums, theaters, dance troupes, arts/crafts coalitions, bands, galleries and creative industrial endeavors. The most popular places to live in America feature vibrant arts and humanities scenes; can you imagine a state with our amazing landscapes being able to claim we are the most “creative state” in the nation? Not only would tourism increase, young people would flock here to put down roots and start businesses. Creativity is the root of all innovation. Wyoming should become “The State of Creativity.”

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SHANNON D. SMITH, Executive Director thinkWY, Wyoming Humanities, Laramie

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