Wyoming's Open Spaces Create Sense of Community
From the mountain ranges in the west to the High Plains in the east, Wyoming's topography is renowned for exceptional natural beauty. But it's the people within those gorgeous hills and valleys that truly make Wyoming a special place in which to live and work.
From the mountain ranges in the west to the High Plains in the east, Wyoming's topography is renowned for its exceptional natural beauty. But it's the people within those gorgeous hills and valleys that truly make the state a special place to live and work. The U.S. government owns about 48 percent of Wyoming's land, and much of that area includes iconic national parks, forests and historic areas, including Yellowstone, Devil's Tower, Grand Teton National Park and the Shoshone National Forest, as well as nearly three dozen state parks and historical areas. But nature is by no means Wyoming's only virtue. Its communities have each created outstanding places to live, offering technological advances, culture, arts, recreation and other amenities, without the high crime, congestion and pollution found in large cities. The American Dream Composite Index survey found Wyoming residents feeling more positive than residents of most other states about the quality of their environment and health. Wyoming is also one of the least densely populated states, which makes for close-knit business and social communities. "You've heard of the six degrees of separation?" says Eric Brandjord, business development lead for Inter-Mountain Labs in Sheridan, who moved to the state as toddler. "You only have to go to two or three degrees in Wyoming before you find a mutual acquaintance." As a resident of the state whose heritage extends over multiple generations, Gregg Jones, president of the Jonah Bank of Wyoming in Cheyenne, values the business climate that's shaped by the state's geography and demographics. "It's much easier, depending on the product line or service, to get yourself known in the state or community," he says. "It's an interesting, eclectic mix of people who ultimately understand that because of our size, we need to get along, and we do for the most part." Code of the West With a western heritage that shows up in everything from the state's license plate to the University of Wyoming mascot, the cowboy is not a relic of the past, but a fixture of the present. Many folks in the state continue to live by the Code of the West, unwritten rules that guided life on the range. That same code guides people in business today. "We do a lot of things with a handshake and there's a fair amount of honor and integrity in the business culture and climate," says Ken Ball, president of Ball Advertising in Casper. However, Wyoming's cities also offer cultural attractions for a wide range of tastes. "We have a symphony here and [a] fair amount of theater, from independent groups and the college," Ball says. "Unless you have to have a Tiffany's or a Saks Fifth Avenue, which you can get by going to Denver, you're in pretty good shape here." Family Focused Amy Shoales, practice director for Laramie Physicians for Women and Children, and her family moved to Wyoming about three years ago. She says they love the extensive city parks system and proximity to national parks, as well as the wide range of outdoor activities and adventures. "You don't have to be a hunter or fisherman to enjoy it," she says. "There's mountain biking, rock climbing, kayaking and much more economical downhill skiing than you find in Colorado." For family vacations, she ventures to Rocky Mountain National Park, a short two-hour drive away. "We have great vacation destinations with a decent drive time," she says. Summer is prime time for many outdoor activities, but the fun doesn't stop when the snow flies. "We have a cabin on a little lake up in central Wyoming where we water ski and play in the water and do a lot of backpacking trips and play golf," Jones says. "Then there are winter sports which are huge, too." The state's educational resources win high praise from newcomers as well. "There are amazing educational opportunities here," Shoales says. "People are sometimes worried their kids won't get a good education if they live out in the sticks of Wyoming and that's not even close to being true."