One Year in Wyoming

Archer Complex

Twelve months have flown by since I moved back Out West to join the Laramie County Planning & Development Department, here in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

There are many differences between the eastern side of the Great Plains in Minnesota and the Dakotas, and the western side here along the Rocky Mountains.  While population continues to contract and grow older in the Midwest, population and economic growth is bouncing back (if a bit spotty) in the Mountain states.  The Denver Front Range has had a taste of the oil shale boom playing out in Western North Dakota and Montana, upsetting those states’ usual east-west power plays.  Wyoming shares the laissez faire state policy environment of the Dakotas, while the People’s Republic of Minnesota has a long tradition of activist state government.  And it has been really nice being closer to outdoors recreation, and the roots music and cultural scene of the Front Range.

Yet there are many similarities that span the time zones.  While in the West we usually worry more about too little water than too much, we have had a taste this summer of the flooding with which the Midwest is too familiar.  The water goes where the water wants to go.  The sparsely settled windswept plains give rise to natural hazards (blizzards, tornadoes) and infrastructure challenges (wind turbines, transportation, rural broadband) similar East and West.

We have some neat projects going on in the County Planning Office.  We’re taking a different approach to updating the County Comprehensive Plan, focusing on doing a better job at implementation.  It’s a challenge to keep up with the pace of building permits, but sometimes you have to take the time to do things right.

Cheyenne is technically a Metropolitan Statistical Area.  With a population of just over 50,000 in a county of under 100,000, in many ways its a really big small town.  In other ways its a really small big city.  One day its the best of both worlds, other days its a double challenge.  Either way, it is a great place, getting better each day.


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