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Published December 18, 2018
Part of the University of Wyoming’s newly established Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship (IIE), the Center for Business and Economic Analysis (CBEA) supports the economic growth and diversification of Wyoming’s economy through applied economic and business analytics for communities, industries and entrepreneurs who desire a thriving and prosperous Wyoming.
Throughout the United States, such centers are housed at universities and have been serving their communities for decades as key regional partners providing economic insight and data analysis. The need for such a center in Wyoming became apparent with Gov. Matt Mead’s ENDOW initiative and establishment of the IIE.
The IIE calls on innovators from throughout the state as it works to instill entrepreneurial thinking to graduate the leaders of tomorrow. Adding needed programs and drawing together all UW colleges, business services and entrepreneurship competitions, the IIE serves as the university’s front door for the state’s entrepreneurs.
As part of the IIE, the CBEA’s mission is to: provide professional economic insight about Wyoming by tracking and interpreting regional conditions and supplying local and state economic forecasts; undertake economic impact assessments; conduct specialized analyses, studies and projects, including guidance for investors, policymakers and entrepreneurs; and study and disseminate population demographic and workforce conditions to support regional development.
“We want to address regional and national questions for people in Wyoming,” says UW College of Business Department of Economics Chair Jason Shogren. “Any business, before they start, is going to have to decide where they’re going to set up, how many people they’re going to hire, how much capital they’re going to invest and where they’re going to invest it. Part of the process of the CBEA is to give them feedback on those numbers.”
CBEA aims to be the trusted destination resource for information about Wyoming’s economy, to empower robust economic growth and diversification, to serve as a bridge of engagement between UW and the broader state community, and to be recognized nationally as a premier organization among its peers. As part of this mission, the CBEA plans to be flexible and responsive to the needs of the state and the university. The CBEA also will provide UW students with service and experiential learning opportunities that have meaningful impacts, increase student placement prospects and create opportunities for students to live and work in Wyoming upon graduation.
“The idea is to give our students hands-on experience with how you crunch these numbers and try to understand different trade-offs because, once they leave here, businesses are going to want them to evaluate different proposals,” Shogren says. “If you get some experience with economic models, your skill set increases and makes you more attractive to employers.”
The CBEA will serve as a conduit for channeling faculty expertise from all corners of the university into applied economic and business projects for the benefit of Wyoming. It also will develop deep working relationships and channels of communication with communities throughout the state and disseminate Wyoming economic insight and data.
CBEA projects underway include analysis of the economic impact of Laramie Jubilee Days on Albany County; and, jointly with the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, an economic impact analysis of the Casper Events Center.
Also underway is an analysis of the economic impact on Wyoming of federal funding for the IDeA Networks for Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE) Program, which involves UW and the state’s community colleges.
The CBEA also provided an analysis of the pending closure of Western Sugar Co.’s sugar beet processing plant in Torrington.
The projects are spearheaded by visiting Assistant Professor Benjamin Cook and College of Business Associate Professor David Aadland.
UW professors and students have been doing related state economics work for many years, and the CBEA brings the work together under one roof to harness its potential and create a visible resource for the people of Wyoming, Shogren says.