Greater Cheyenne Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Dale Steenbergen says the recent downturn in the state economy shows the need for a serious effort to diversify the state's economic base.

Steenbergen says the state's dependence on the energy sector of the economy tends to not be questioned until energy prices decline and the economy slumps as a result.

He says at that point the issue gets discussed but is usually forgotten again as soon as things improve. He says "We've got to start looking at ways we can survive these downturns better." Steenbergen also says of diversification "We've got to really mean it."

He says Cheyenne is offering a good example of the type of diversification that can be successful by recruiting high-tech companies like Microsoft and Greenhouse Data that take advantage of cheap electricity in locating here.

Steenbergen says there is high demand in Laramie County for skilled tradespeople right now, adding a big discussion right now is "How do we aim our workforce and our young people towards jobs that are available right now in Cheyenne?"

He says part of that effort may include not seeing a college education as the career path everyone should follow. "We need skilled electricians; we need folks that know how to build things; we need welders," he says.

He says a rethinking of education goals and related issues is a discussion that needs to be had across the country, including in Wyoming.