- Associated Press - Monday, May 11, 2015

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - Wyoming wants some of its workers back.

Gov. Matt Mead on Monday announced a state program called “Wyoming Grown” that’s intended to lure former state residents to come home.

Wyoming has a population of fewer than 600,000 and its young people commonly move out of state. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate has dropped from 7 percent to just over 4 percent in the past few years and said employers tell him they sometimes can’t find workers to fill available jobs.

The Wyoming Grown program uses a website to put expatriate workers in touch with employers. Mead says hiring people who already know Wyoming should help avoid the common situation where a newly recruited worker or their spouse moves to the state only to find they don’t fit in.

“Sometimes they just can’t find the people they need,” Mead said of employers. “But sometimes it is a situation where they find the talent, and they bring them to Cheyenne and the employee or the spouse of the employee says, ‘this isn’t Chicago, I have a different desire for the lifestyle that I want to lead,’ and so you have turnover.”

Mead said the state estimates that about 60 percent of its young people leave the state. “We’ve shipped a lot of our young people out to other states because they didn’t feel like they had an opportunity for a career here in Wyoming,” he said.

Mead said the idea behind the Wyoming Grown program is that if employers can reach people who have spent time in the state and already know what it’s about, they’re more likely to be happy once they take a job.

“They may have a young family and they know Wyoming’s the best place to raise a family,” Mead said. “And so, the question is, how do you reach out to those people, how do you make contact with them. How do we let them know that the Wyoming today is different than it was 10 years ago, or 15 years ago.”

Mead said the state is seeking to lure home all sorts of workers with the program, including licensed professionals such as doctors and teachers to welders and plumbers.

The Wyoming Grown program website, www.wyomingrown.org , allows workers interested in Wyoming jobs post resumes and allows employers to post available openings. It’s also possible for people who live in Wyoming who are anxious to have a relative who’s moved away return to the state to post their qualifications.

The Wyoming Department of Workforce Services is running the program. Department Director Joan Evans appeared with Mead at a press conference at the state Capitol in Cheyenne on Monday and also emphasized the importance to Wyoming businesses of hiring people who know the state and appreciate its lifestyle.

“We know that from a retention standpoint, it’s easier to fill those positions with people that understand those Wyoming communities, and really want to be back in those communities and want to stay there.” Evans said.

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