Wyoming Cities Look to Upgrade Business Parks
Wyoming communities can get their business parks certified to become more marketable to industry prospects.
Companies searching for a business location often want a shovel-ready site with roads, sewer and water lines, electricity, and fiber optics already in place, so that construction can begin immediately.
For that reason in 2013, the Wyoming Business Council launched a Site Evaluation and Certification Program that provides communities across the state with sites that prospective relocating businesses know are shovel ready. The WBC hired national site selection firm McCallum Sweeney Consulting to oversee the program.
McCallum Sweeney's evaluation includes a list of strengths and weaknesses that an interested community with a business park must address before prospective companies would ever look at the site as a viable place to build, says Heather Tupper, marketing and outreach program manager in the business and industry division for the Wyoming Business Council.
“McCallum Sweeney provides an unbiased outsider's view of what needs to be done,” Tupper says.
A key factor the consulting firm studies is potential impediments to development, such as streams, old roads, utility easements or any environmental contamination issues. It also evaluates utility services, sewer flow, fiber optics and water flow pressure to see if they are optimal on any shovel-ready site.
“One problem that often exists for cities is the time it takes to repermit a site for replatting or changing ownership, which usually takes 45 days, but McCallum Sweeney shows communities how to achieve that repermitting process in 20 to 30 days,” Tupper says.
Three Parks So Far
In 2013, three business parks – two in Torrington and one in Sheridan – became part of the Site Evaluation and Certification Program, and the two Torrington properties have reached certification status. The Sheridan business park is expected to be certified in 2014.
“We decided to strengthen our economic development efforts, so we heard about the program and want to develop a 43.5-acre piece of property called Sheridan Hi-Tech Park near Interstate 90,” says Robert Briggs, City of Sheridan planning and economic development director. “Becoming certified will make us marketable to large industry prospects, which is what we want.”
Nicholas Bateson, City of Sheridan public works director, says McCallum Sweeney has been poring over every detail with regard to improving the business park.
“They look into how much gas and electricity we can provide to a site, where the power substations are located in the community, what are the park's fiber optic capabilities, and what are the roadway needs in and out of the site,” Bateson says. “Sheridan wants to target certain industries such as data centers, light manufacturing and a wide scope of technology-based businesses, and Sheridan Hi-Tech Park will ultimately be able to accommodate them all.”
Strong Transportation System
For companies looking for a strong transportation infrastructure, Wyoming is a highly desirable location. Three interstates cross the state: I-25 runs north/south along the Rocky Mountain Front Range; I-80 crosses the state west to Salt Lake City and east to major Midwest metros; and I-90 in northern Wyoming provides a link to the Northwest and Upper Midwest markets. The road system includes 13 U.S. highways.
Class I carriers BNSF and Union Pacific operate on more than 800 miles of track that crisscross Wyoming, and the railroads are key transportation assets for statewide companies that ship energy-based goods such as oil, gas products, coal and trona. Short-line carriers such as Bighorn Divide & Wyoming Railroad as well as Watco also contribute to the state's overall economy.
The state also is served by 36 general flight facilities, 10 of which offer commercial airline service. The largest facility is Jackson Hole Airport with more than 500 employees, while Denver International Airport is only 90 minutes to two hours from Wyoming's major population centers.