Taking a page from other resource-rich states, Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead said Friday that he is seeking initiatives to “add value to Wyoming’s natural resources and create jobs.” The effort will seek to attract industry to the sparsely populated, but natural resource-endowed state.

Mead is seeking large-scale industrial projects that could bring significant benefit to the state. He is personally directing an effort to develop recommendations to encourage processing and conversion of natural gas, coal, bentonite, trona, rare earth elements and other resources found abundantly in Wyoming rather than exporting raw commodities out of the state. Wyoming is the nation’s leading state for exporting energy resources.

The Wyoming proposal comes within days of a presentation by IHS Inc. analyst Don Bari at the Williston Basin Petroleum Conference in Bismarck, ND, that laid out the case for North Dakota developing a petrochemicals industry to take advantage of large volumes of natural gas liquids (NGL) being produced.

“It is important to expand and diversify the economy by using the natural resources we have in abundance in Wyoming,” Mead said. “This will be a long journey, but we need to start now working with people across Wyoming. I want to hear from the public, local leaders and businesses in this process.”

In conjunction with the state legislature, Mead said he has set aside funding to gather information on potential large-scale industrial projects, and he will appoint three task forces to do the fact-gathering.

One task force will implement Mead’s initiative for an integrated test center designed to develop beneficial uses for carbon dioxide. The second will work to gain industry perspectives, and the third will identify opportunities and gaps in regulation, infrastructure and planning, according to a spokesperson for the governor.

“This effort can help us increase both investment in Wyoming and the value of our resources,” Mead said. “I expect the process to lead to opportunities across the state.”

The governor has asked for comment from the legislature before identifying task force members.