Upton Regional Industrial Park demonstrates economic development success
CHEYENNE – When the American Colloid Plant ceased its operations in 2003, the town of Upton, Wyo., could have easily joined the ranks of many small towns across America that slowly fade away when the primary employer shuts down.
But local officials were unwilling to admit defeat and over the past six years have seen a dramatic economic recovery due to the Upton Regional Industrial Park. The project began in June 2004 when the town of Upton and Weston County, working with Wyoming Business Council Regional Director Dave Spencer, received $1.5 million in Business Ready Community Grant funding from the Wyoming Business Council to purchase the 555-acre site, build a new rail spur and install the first phase of sewer service in the park.
The following year, Weston County and the Weston County Development Board (WCDB) received an additional $473,600 in Community Readiness funds from the Business Council for a second phase of construction and site development, including a new access road. The town of Upton recently received a third BRC grant for approximately $2.5 million to complete water and sewer service in the park and install a 300,000 gallon water tank to provide fire protection.
Since its creation, several new businesses have moved to the Park, including KL Energy Corp., Utran Inc., Orica, Mustang Tire, Am-west Petroleum, Red Giant Oil, Amerigas, Four B Land Co., BTI, Viking LDE, and Holsim Cement, and created 40 new employment opportunities. In addition, the $4.5 million government investment has leveraged over $15 million in private funds, contributing significantly to its success.
“This is an excellent example of local community leadership getting economic development right,” said Bob Jensen, CEO of the Wyoming Business Council. “The town of Upton and Weston County have taken their asset base, invested in it and created an environment where businesses can thrive. They are really a model for communities across the state.”
And jobs are not the only thing being generated. According to the Wyoming Department of Revenue, the town of Upton received $210,768 from the state of Wyoming for sales and use tax in October, due to a TransCanada Pipeline project that used the site to trans-load and store pipe materials. The normal amount of revenue received by the town in a month is approximately $30,000. In addition, the city of Newcastle, Wyo., received $785,304 from the activity, which is eight times its normal monthly amount. Weston County also received $621,554.
Weston County Development Board President, Tom Barritt said “By rolling up our sleeves and working together on this project, the community and surrounding area are realizing more jobs than were lost, a more diverse economy, an enhanced tax base, and the need for infrastructure enhancement that this small community has not seen for years.”
According to Barritt, projected future activity at the site includes more rail construction, more customers, customer services, and projects such as used motor oil recycling, processed steel and tire recycling along with transloading projects of pipe, coal mine equipment, and diesel fuel.
“This is a great project and there will be more benefits from it in the future. The Wyoming Business Council was pleased to play a supporting role in the efforts of Upton to grow their local economy,” said Jensen.