Governor seeks to double fund to land tech firms

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) ? Gov. Matt Mead wants to up the ante in trying to entice technology jobs to Wyoming by proposing to double the money the state makes available to help build data centers and other digital facilities and broaden the types of firms eligible to tap the funds.

Mead said Thursday he wants Wyoming to be as “attractive as possible to these companies” to bring in jobs and new tax revenue.

Wyoming established a $15 million fund last year to help pay for infrastructure, such as water service, for new mega data centers after Verizon Communications Inc. looked at locating a $4 billion data center near Laramie. The company decided against building one for now after it acquired a separate company that already had data centers, and the state fund remained unused.

Mead’s budget proposal released last week seeks to expand the fund to $30 million and broaden it to include other types of tech-related facilities.

“In doubling the funding there’s more opportunity for big projects and also a pool of money for other technology projects,” Mead said through his spokesman Renny MacKay.

Robert Jensen, CEO of the Wyoming Business Council, said that while the fund hasn’t been tapped yet these types of complicated projects take time and it’s important the state has the money available.

“To have some funding in the governor’s office that he has the ability to put toward infrastructure that supports their location here, that’s good news and the industry will take note of that,” Jensen said.

He said his office is actively talking with several data center operators about locating in Wyoming.

The discussion involved projects not as large as what Verizon was looking at, but they are still “significant,” he said.

“Anything can happen,” Jensen said. “The point is that the industry is still viable. It’s still growing. We still have a compelling package for them, and people are listening to us.”

He added broadening the fund could attract other types of technology firms, such as those that produce software.