Kickstart Kemmerer plan examines economic development, infrastructure

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Editor’s Note: This is the third of four articles in a series about Kickstart Kemmerer, the City of Kemmerer’s new comprehensive plan.

Strengthening the local economy and improving public infrastructure are key points addressed in Kemmerer’s new comprehensive plan.

Kickstart Kemmerer is a 20-year comprehensive plan for the City that was created by an advisory council with the help of the zoning board and approval of the Kemmerer city council. The plan acknowledges that Kemmerer’s population growth will likely remain low during the next 20 years, and that one of the attractive points of the city is its small town, rural feel.

The vision statement of the plan is as follows: “By 2038, Kemmerer will be an attractive community with a diversified economic base where people take pride in their homes, businesses and environment.”

Economic development

The comprehensive plan notes that the energy industry — including the Westmoreland Kemmerer Mine, the PacifiCorp Viva Naughton power plant, and the Shute Creek, Williams and Enterprise gas plants — provides nearly 70 percent of the total jobs in the Kemmerer area.

The plan states that partnering with local energy companies by lending legislative support to “ensure their long-term success is the single most important economic activity the City (of Kemmerer) can undertake.”

Economic development strategies included in the plan also focus on attracting other businesses to persuade energy industry employees to live in Kemmerer. In 2017, 50 percent of the employees at the Westmoreland Kemmerer Mine lived outside of Kemmerer.

The plan encourages recruiting more retail development in Kemmerer “to persuade people to choose Kemmerer as a place to live. This should include a mix of retail, food and lodging establishments, especially for those with regional or national brands.”

A potential economic development strategy included in the Kickstart Kemmerer plan is to “supplement the existing energy industry by attracting the manufacture and installation of alternative energy sources, including wind, solar and clean carbon technologies.”

Another of the suggestions in the 20-year plan is for the City to work closely with the Fossil Basin Promotion Board to create a tourism master plan and implement long-term tourism marketing strategies to attract tourists and new residents to the area.

The Kemmerer area’s fossil tourism industry draws a large group of visitors each year, and Kickstart Kemmerer recommends marketing that industry more as part of the tourism master plan to bring more tourist dollars into the community.

The plan recognizes Kemmerer’s great outdoor appeal as a way to attract tourists to the area, and lists outdoor recreation tourism as a potential way to spend lodging tax dollars.

“This could include hunting, fishing, camping, snowmobiling, and historic preservation along the Mormon and Oregon trails,” the plan states.

The plan suggests marketing the variety of transportation options (highway, rail and air) to attract a truck stop or distribution center.

Another economic development strategy is to provide incentives for new businesses that generate new jobs in the City of Kemmerer.

These incentives could include reduced fees for building inspections and zoning applications.

The comprehensive plan recommends working with regional economic development agencies, such as the South Lincoln Economic Development Corporation and the Lincoln-Uinta Revolving Loan Fund to grow local businesses and attract new business.

Public Infrastructure

Another section of the Kickstart Kemmerer comprehensive plan focuses on ways to improve the City’s public infrastructure, which will also help improve the other aspects focused on in the plan, such as community appearance and economic development.

One strategy to improve Kemmerer’s public infrastructure is to develop a street maintenance program that focuses on street repair, reconstruction and preservation of City roads. Also included in Kickstart Kemmerer was a plan to use revenue from the county-wide special purpose sales tax to fund road projects, but the tax failed to pass in the November election. 

Another potential project included in Kickstart Kemmerer is to work with granting agencies to obtain funding “to relocate overhead utilities underground, especially in downtown Kemmerer.”

One strategy that would help improve both the city’s public infrastructure and economic development is to invest in making Kemmerer 100 percent connected to high-speed fiber internet.

Part of public infrastructure improvement in the comprehensive plan is ensuring that new streets are “interconnected in clear, direct and understandable patterns.”

New and existing construction should be built and maintained according to city standards, and policies should be created to enforce them.

Read the Gazette next week for a final story about the Kickstart Kemmerer comprehensive plan’s focus on Recreation and Open Spaces.