Platte County offers the pleasures of a rural lifestyle as well as a thriving business environment. Current and potential energy opportunities create new jobs and keep wages competitive. The area boasts a strong business community which is able to work together while encouraging healthy competition. Infrastructure and technology are key elements in today’s economy. Platte County mirrors the state of Wyoming’s high percentage of internet connectivity and computer ownership.
Platte County has historically had a very strong agricultural base, with ranches and farms being the primary industries driving our economy. Small businesses have long looked to our agricultural base to keep the local economy strong. In the late 1970’s, that focus shifted somewhat with the construction of an 1800 megawatt coal-fired power plant just 7 miles northeast of Wheatland. Wheatland, in particular, experienced a boom in its business base for about 5 years as a result of the Laramie River Station, followed by a severe downsizing as the number of temporary construction workers decreased. Many storefronts in the downtown district became vacant, and only those businesses closer to the interstate were able to thrive.
Guernsey experienced a similar fate with the closing of the C, F & I iron ore mine at Sunrise in the 1980’s. Many local businesses felt the impact of the mine’s closing and the loss of dozens of jobs. Luckily for Guersney, the Wyoming National Guard has continued to expand Camp Guernsey, which surrounds the town, the number of tourists at Guernsey State Park just north of Guernsey and the expansion of the BNSF facilities on the north edge of Guernsey have helped to offset the loss of jobs caused by the mine’s closing.
Today the economies of Platte County’s five communities are looking considerably better. Glendo has a strong tourism base due to Glendo State Park located just a couple of miles east of the town, and Chugwater relies on its agricultural base and on travelers and tourists on Interstate 25. Wheatland and Guernsey are seeing considerable job growth due to the location of several oil service companies in the two communities, and as a result both communities have seen new businesses come into the communities. Both communities are also seeing the expansion of existing businesses as a positive sign, and that is creating optimism in the future of both communities. Hartville, Platte County’s oldest and smallest community, no longer has a business sector, and residents of this retirement community take care of most of their business needs in Guernsey, just six miles south. The potential for a resurgence of businesses in Hartville is good, however, with its proximity to Guernsey State Park, the recent increase in activity at the Sunrise Mine, and its draw as a historical “gem” in the state.