Retail development is on the rise in Rock Springs and Sweetwater County. Wyoming. New projects have sprung up throughout the county, and a major heavy equipment firm is building its first new store in 20 years in Rock Springs.
The retail projects, says Mike Yedinak, Rock Springs native and chief operating officer of Commerce Bank, are signs that the local economy is moving beyond its “boom and bust” days and entering into a time of sustained growth.
“We’ve seen huge investment by oil field services companies using Rock Springs as a staging area,” Yedinak says. “The companies have built and maintained regional offices in Sweetwater County, instead of directing work here from remote locations in Texas and Oklahoma.”
As a result, Yedinak says, people are putting down roots in Rock Springs. “We’ve seen the population go from 19,000 to 23,000 in the last decade,” he says.
And those people are customers for retail and professional services, creating a regional trade population of nearly 40,000 for Sweetwater County businesses.
Commerce Center on Track
Projects like the impressive Commerce Center put tenant businesses in a prime location to capture those customers. Anchored by Commerce Bank, the Center offers more than 67,000 square feet of Class A office/condo space and another 57,500 square feet of retail space fronting Dewar Street, the city’s main thoroughfare.
Other tenants in the primary structure include accounting and financial management firms, an oil services company, a state senator and the Sweetwater Economic Development Association. Two more of the Center’s planned five buildings are complete and occupied, and the fourth is under construction.
Yedinak said the very existence of the new space may be prompting investment. “Sometimes when there is someplace for people to see that’s good quality space in a good location, there may be some incentive to do something they would not have done otherwise,” he says.
Tenants in Commerce Center space are divided evenly among existing businesses that opted to relocate and new businesses.
Other recent light commercial retail projects attracting tenants include one on Powder House Drive, two small strip malls south of Walmart and another on Dewar Drive. The refurbished Union Pacific office also houses retail and office space.
Caterpillar Dealer Builds Store
Wyoming Machinery Company is also establishing a presence in the retail market in Rock Springs. The company, Wyoming's premier Caterpillar dealer, is constructing a new, highly visible facility on Elk Street. The project is expected to be complete in summer 2012.
Additional flights and services at the Rock Springs-Sweetwater County Airport also attest to the growth of the region, says Terry Doak, airport director of operations. “In the past year, the airport has added a third daily Denver flight to a schedule that also includes two flights to Salt Lake City, Utah, and one daily flight to Gillette,” he says.
Airport Earns Grant
Doak says expansion of the airport facility had been limited by the 75,000-gallon water tank due to fire codes. In 2011, the airport received a $1 million grant from the state for a 500,000-gallon water tank, which will allow for additional expansion.
Read about more growing businesses in Rock Springs, WY.