Kemmerer and statewide economies strong

A proposed development south of Kemmerer would sit on 291 acres and include multifamily housing, retail, and a truck stop. It’s one of two developments in the works to help with the current housing shortage in southwest Wyoming. (COURTESY IMAGE)

Two developments in the works should ease some of the housing pains currently felt locally and statewide

KEMMERER — Wyoming experienced a strong economic performance in the third quarter of 2023. Key sectors such as energy, agriculture, housing, and tourism played pivotal roles in driving growth.

Dr. Wenlin Liu, chief economist with Wyoming Division of Economic Analysis, said, “As energy businesses uphold their drilling, together with broad-based robust activities across most sectors, Wyoming’s labor market continued to expand in the third quarter of 2023, and the performance was moderately better than the first half of 2023.” 

Wyoming’s total employment increased faster than the national average and the state’s unemployment rate decreased to 2.9%, which was lower than the national average of 3.7%. Payroll jobs increased in nearly all sectors, led by construction, which grew 7.1% annually in the third quarter.

Mining increased 4.2%. Professional and business services and other services each increased by 4.5%. Retail trade and financial activities were the only sectors that experienced declines, though they were insignificant.

The housing market reported single-family home prices in the state continued to trend upward (4.1%) in the third quarter compared to a year ago, while the nation’s appreciation accelerated to 5.5%. Despite existing home sales across the country reaching near record lows, home prices reached new highs because of extremely low inventories.

Kemmerer City Administrator Brian Muir said the local economy is positive with low unemployment. Using local housing as a barometer, Muir said the market is robust and demand is high.

Economics being part of Muir’s background, he mentioned the multiplier effect and how it will impact Kemmerer’s economy. He said local investments will boost overall revenue for the town.

As more properties are sold downtown in Kemmerer’s Triangle, Muir is pleased that people are investing in the community and looks forward to the tax base coming back to the local economy.

“People are gravitating to the downtown area,” he said.

Muir has been in contact with TerraPower, negotiating potential office space for the company that plans to begin excavation for the nuclear plant test facility outside of Kemmerer.

TerraPower is interested in renting office space near the Triangle but, Muir said, “Old Town Hall is completely full, with all eight office spaces being rented.”   

Muir is anticipating increased need for housing during construction of the nuclear plant.

“Those people are going to need places to live,” he said.

At least partial solutions to the housing demand include two different developments — on different sides of town. The Gateway housing development, which is pending final approval, would be built on the north side of town off Canyon Road, adjacent to the cemetery.

Another development, south of Kemmerer, would sit on 291 acres, which Muir said is shovel-ready.

“We are working with engineers to get plat approval from the zoning board,” he said. “The conceptual sketch has received good feedback.”

The design includes multifamily housing, retail, and a truck stop. The project would be completed in phases over a period of years, with the first phase potentially including a portion of the multi-family housing and truck stop.

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