‘Can-Do’ Upton is Perfect for Business
Thursday, March 05, 2020
The town of Upton sits in northeastern Wyoming in the Black Hills, about 100 miles from Rapid City. Residents
embrace their place away from the fast lane of big-city life, where they’ve come to be known as a community with a business-friendly ‘Can-Do’ attitude.
“We’re a tight-knit group of people who volunteer for the community,” said former Upton Mayor Tom Barritt. “We roll up our sleeves to get things done for our businesses.”
There is an amazing amount of community pride in Upton, Stephanie Salazar, Executive Director of the Upton Economic Development Board.
“From young to old, the entire community comes together to be involved,” she said.
Much of the pride derives from advantages found in small town living, such as a seemingly endless supply of outdoor activities.
“We know we have a quality of life people are hungering for,” said Barritt. “We love our outdoor possibilities and want to protect that.”
Combining that quality of life with a business-friendly attitude provides ample opportunities for businesses, said Barritt.
“We really have the best of both worlds here,” he said. “Upton is a great place to raise a family and run a business.”
A number of examples illustrate the town’s focus on business. After the American Colloid Bentonite plant closed in 2002, town leadership purchased the plant and remediated the site. It now is the 600+ acre Tiger Transfer, Upton Logistics Center, a Premier Transload Facility designated by the BNSF Railway Company.
Construction on a new high school tells a similar story. When the Weston County School District #7 realized a state grant designed to help construct a new high school was not enough to include an onsite football field, the community came together for a solution. A local contractor donated equipment and others donated their time to not only construct the field, but carve out a portion of the adjacent hillside to create a unique bowl for it to sit in.
“Now it is a wonderful site and quite a draw for the community, where folks can park around the top of the hill and watch the game from their cars in cold weather,” said Barritt. “It was a joint community effort that wasn’t going to happen if we didn’t come together.”
Hunger for Life
Much of the community pride results from a love of their surrounding environment and centers on outdoor recreation. A local gun club hosts national events and places a high priority on teaching gun and hunting safety to youth. A nearby nine-hole golf course is completely run by volunteers and, according to Salazar, has some of the most amazing vistas from a golf course imaginable. The Rocky Mountain Enduro Circuit Series comes to Upton each year, named after the nearby Inyan Kara mountain. In addition to being centrally located between Mount Rushmore, Devil’s Tower and the Bighorn Mountains, the fishing, hunting, boating and other outdoor opportunities seem endless.
“We really appreciate what we have here and will work hard to maintain a community to enjoy that way of life,” said Barritt.
Ready for Business
The “Can-Do” attitude, evident in the hard work put into remediating the American Colloid site has put Upton in an attractive business environment.
“We decided to take the glass half full approach by choosing to purchase the plant and do what was necessary to entice other companies to come here,” he said. “We did that and have a business park that says Upton has something good to give businesses now.”
The park, which basically sits at the geographic center of the United States, is shovel-ready and includes 550 acres of rail-accessible property with a switch in the middle. Add the availability of cheap energy, fiber optics and a nearby airport, the park provides a real advantage for businesses looking to relocate.
“We have the infrastructure and the space, which is everything a business needs,” said Barritt. “”We can make a decision for businesses essentially overnight, with nearly no time constraints on permitting.”
Overall, Upton is certainly a unique location, combining a business-friendly professional environment with a community focused on family and outdoor recreation opportunities.
“Everyone wants to live in a nice place where they can run their business,” said Barritt. “In Upton, people know how rewarding it is to work hard and invest themselves into businesses for the community”