Nine Wyoming lawmakers traveled to Alberta, Canada last weekend to get a first hand look at a major energy complex that has spurred billions of dollars in economic investment and created thousands of high-paying jobs. During the Budget Session, legislators designated funding to study the energy mega-campus and the potential benefits a similar model could bring to Wyoming.
Legislators from the House and Senate toured Alberta’s Industrial Heartland Complex, a one-stop shop for commercial scale industries that spans over 200,000 acres. Lawmakers who participated in the trip were Representatives Kermit Brown, Steve Harshman, Michael Greear, Bob Nicholas, David Miller and John Freeman and Senators Ogden Driskill, Larry Hicks and Jim D. Anderson.
Canada successfully leveraged many of its natural resources to create one of the world’s most attractive locations for chemical, petrochemical, oil, and gas investment. Nearly sixteen years after the project launched, the region is now home to over 40 companies with over $25 billion in investments.
“This is one of many options the Legislature is looking at to bolster and sustain our energy economy for the long-term,” House Majority Floor Leader Kermit Brown said. “With an energy mega campus such as this, the potential is there to create lots of high paying jobs for Wyoming citizens. The average income for employees at Alberta’s complex is estimated to be $148,000.”
According to Brown, Alberta’s Industrial Heartland complex utilizes a number of symbiotic relationships that allow different industries to work in tandem, minimizing costs and maximizing benefits. The infrastructure exists within the campus, in terms of roads, pipeline corridors and other necessary functions, that allows one process to finish and another to pick up where the first left off, creating a “one-stop” shop for production.
“This is only a conceptual idea right now,” Brown added. “But if Wyoming is going to get beyond being seen as a colony only mined for it’s resources, we have to find ways to add value to our production chain.”