Top Industries in Rock Springs, WY

By John McBryde on September 24, 2012 at 10:00 am EST
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New houses, restaurants and businesses are all signs that Sweetwater County's economy is robust. The area’s range of industries has been a key driver for job creation, stable home values and solid population growth, especially in young families.

Those industries include trona mining at Solvay Chemicals and similar companies, power generation at Rocky Mountain Power, energy production at Halliburton and phosphate manufacturing at Simplot.

“It really helps to have such a diversity of industries here, because if one sector were to go down, there are other sectors to offset it," says Dave Hanks, executive director of the Rock Springs Chamber of Commerce. "A lot of the same job skills that are required in one industry are the same as in others.”

One of the largest employers in southwest Wyoming is Halliburton, which has about 850 employees at its Rock Springs facility. Halliburton is a major provider of products and services to the energy industry, and the Rock Springs plant performs product enhancement, cementing, completion tools and other functions. 

Glass Act

The area is also noted for having the world’s largest known deposit of trona, a mineral with a wide range of uses. The Rock Springs plant for Solvay Chemicals, with approximately 450 employees, refines the trona into soda ash primarily for making glass.

“We are the largest exporter of soda ash in the world,” says Ron Hughes, executive vice president and site manager for the Rock Springs facility. “There’s a 90 percent chance that all the glass you come across throughout the country – windshield glass, plate glass for windows, shot glasses, whatever – comes out of the Green River basin.”

Other companies in the Green River basin involved in trona mining are FMC Wyoming Corp., OCI and Tata Chemicals.

Though it doesn’t have the number of employees of Halliburton or Solvay, the Rock Springs location for the J.R. Simplot Company of Boise, Idaho, has nevertheless been a key player in Sweetwater County’s economy for nearly 30 years. And the fertilizing manufacturing plant has just begun expansion that will lead to a 30 percent increase in production.

“We’ve continued to be able to sell and ship everything that’s made,” says Eric Schillie, plant manager for Simplot in Rock Springs. “The sales group out of Boise continues to ask for more and more.”

The future for these industries looks promising, as the workforce in Sweetwater County grows and gets younger, Hanks says. The population increased by 23.7 percent from 2000 to 2010, and the average age dropped from around 47 in 2003-04 to 32 today.

“Lots of young people are moving in,” Hanks says. “One reason is because there are a lot of jobs. Also, there is a huge block of baby boomers approaching retirement age or already there, and these industries need to replace them. They’re hiring workers 35 and younger. We’ll continue to see that for several more years.”

Read about more companies in the Rock Springs, WY area.

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The fishing here is absolutely phenomenal. We’ve got lake trout, brown trout, rainbow trout, all sorts of fish. It is absolutely a fisherman’s paradise.

Dave Hanks, Executive Director, Rock Springs Chamber of Commerce