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Carbon tech could spur WY job creation

September 13, 2018

The carbon tech industry in Wyoming could support an average of 2,600 jobs annually over the next 17 years, according to a new report by the American Jobs Project — a U.C. Berkeley-based nonpartisan think tank. Developed in partnership with the University of Wyoming, American Jobs Project researchers contend that the projected job growth could occur if the state government and private industry invested in growing this industry cluster. Carbon tech companies use coal, an abundant resource in Wyoming, to make graphene, carbon fiber and other products. In addition to job creation within the carbon tech industry, the authors cite job growth potential in downstream industries, primarily wind and transmission line developers.

To achieve this, the authors of the report propose several steps the state and private industry should take, including:

  • Building a comprehensive carbon tech cluster strategy/partnership;
  • Fostering a culture of commercialization at the University of Wyoming;
  • Developing a statewide mentoring network for early-stage carbon technology in the private sector;
  • Establishing a Technology Maturation Loan Fund and simplify access to other startup capital resources;
  • Launching statewide business plan competitions including one focused solely on carbon tech startups;
  • Encouraging private investors to join a pool of venture capital through a Fund of Funds;
  • Formalizing industry-led job training programs for carbon tech;
  • Developing apprenticeship programs and improve soft skills training for high school students; and,
  • Reworking the state’s Hathaway Scholarship program to provide student debt forgiveness for those working in the state after graduation.

The authors also calls for the creation of public incentives to drive demand for the state’s carbon tech products such as updating infrastructure and institute procurement policies for public contracts centered on purchasing Wyoming-made carbon tech products.

The authors credit the state’s existing investments in university-led R&D around carbon technology, including the establishment of R&D centers at the University of Wyoming and other locations across the state, as one several reasons for Wyoming being positioned to become a national leader in carbon tech. Other strategic advantages for the state’s carbon tech industry include high demand, a vast supply of key raw materials, and strong support for a diverse economy.