State of Wyoming
The landscape of Wyoming is diverse, with the western two thirds graced with mountains, and the eastern third with elevated prairies known as the High Plains. Best places to live in Wyoming include Cheyenne, Casper, Rock Springs, Laramie, Gillette and Green River. The state's strong economy continues to advance with sectors like mineral extraction and energy. Outdoor recreation spots are majestic, led by Yellowstone National Park, Grand Teton National Park and Devils Tower National Monument.Wyoming is the 51st populous state in the U.S. The largest cities in Wyoming are Cheyenne, Casper and Laramie. The median income for Wyoming is $56,573, which is 91% higher than the national median income. The median home price in Wyoming is $184,400. The highest-priced homes are typically found in Moose Wilson Road, South Park and Hoback. The lowest-priced homes are in Fox Farm-College, South Greeley and Mills.
Median Household Income$56,573
Median Home Price$184,400
Resi Stiegler, an Olympian and member of the women’s U.S. Ski Team, considers her hometown of Jackson, Wyo., one of America’s best places to live for more reasons than she can count, but especially for its wild, rugged beauty. Access to amazing natural attractions, great health care and good schools helped Jackson earn a place on Livability.com's Top 100 Best Small Towns list. “I grew up a Wyoming girl and love the harsh climate and drastic seasons,” she says. “The wide open spaces really speak to me.” For Stiegler and many others, those wide open spaces include some of the world’s most popular ski slopes at Jackson Hole – whose 2,500 acres of skiable terrain tower above the valley floor – and Snow King Mountain, the lesser-known but cherished “town hill” that offers enchanting night skiing and snowboarding above the shimmering lights of Jackson. As central as it is to the town’s allure, though, snow fun is only one of Jackson’s long list of attractive qualities – ranging from mouthwatering cuisine and boutique shops to four-star inns and cowboy hoedowns in a place that bills itself as "The Last of the Old West." Healthy and Hospitable In Livability’s ranking of the Top 100 Best Small Towns, Jackson scored especially high in health care and amenities. The high marks in health care reflect not only accessible treatment at St. John’s Medical Center and other local care services, but also an overall emphasis on wellness and fitness among Jackson residents, according to Mayor Sara Flitner. “We live in the mountains, and we get out into them every chance we get,” Flitner says. “That means as a population, we value health because it allows us to enjoy the kinds of activities we love – biking, skiing, rafting, climbing, horseback riding – there is a lot to enjoy.” Enjoying those things with friends and in groups is a key trait that explains Jackson’s appeal as a best small town, she adds, noting that most transplants “come here for the mountains but stay for the people,” the strong sense of community that binds them as they rely on each other through long, cold winters in a relatively remote part of the Rocky Mountains. Jackson’s strong community ethic spills over into the amenities its resorts, inns, spas, restaurants, shops and other businesses offer to guests, Flitner says. “It’s just a pleasure to serve a community who is committed to service, improving things and helping.” Natural Assets In the end, those attributes and more cement Jackson’s strong reputation as a great place to live and as a destination where visitors sense the welcoming spirit right away. In the mayor’s view, “We are home to the best skiing in the country; we have two national parks in our backyard,” the nearby Grand Teton and the easily accessible Yellowstone, “and the largest populations of big-game animals in the lower 48. We welcome visitors and enjoy sharing these incredible assets." “There is no more beautiful place on the planet,” she says. “We get great culture and arts year round, and the food is pretty dang fine, too.” Stiegler, who frequently travels far from Jackson as part of the U.S. Ski Team, strikes a similar chord as she considers the vast wonder of her hometown. “I feel blessed to have been born and raised in Jackson,” she says. “It’s a powerful, magical place, a place we respect and want everyone to respect and appreciate.”
While Jackson, Wyo., is home to serious winter fun – on skis, snowboards, ice skates, tubes, snowmobiles and more – its cultural and recreational appeal spans all seasons. The city's assortment of amenities helped it earn a spot on our Top 100 Best Small Towns list. Here are some of the best things to do in the town where Old West allure meets New World amenities. Ski Jackson Hole The uber-popular resort perennially ranked North America’s No. 1 Ski Area by Forbes magazine has it all: powdery slopes, minimal lift lines, world-class cuisine and majestic backdrops. Direct flights into Jackson Airport 16 miles from the base at Teton Village make the mountain especially accessible. Savor Persephone’s Pastries From its bread pudding French and fried-egg scone skillet to its chocolate croissant and morning glory muffin, mouthwatering café and pastry options abound at Jackson’s Persephone Bakery, Boulangerie & Cafe. Intelligentsia coffees and Bellocq Atelier teas headline the beverage selections. Lunch is just as savory; consider the crispy-pork Schnizelwich and a bowl of roasted tomato soup. Explore Grand Teton National Park A few miles north of Jackson, Grand Teton’s picturesque peaks rise as high as 13,770 feet above sea level (from 6,800 feet in the valley below). Hiking trails lead to crystal-clear lakes and meandering streams of the Snake River, making the views of the park’s jagged mountains even more spectacular. Nosh at Nora’s Enjoy a country-style breakfast at Nora’s Fish Creek Inn, nestled in sleepy Wilson just west of Jackson. At lunch and dinner, hearty fare (chicken fried steak, green chili cheeseburgers) coexists with lighter options (Idaho trout, Caesar salad) at Nora’s, which drew raves from Guy Fieri during his visit for the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-ins & Dives. Go Country at The Cowboy Jackson native Resi Stiegler recommends the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar (as it’s officially known) downtown for live country music on cool summer nights. “It’s always the most fun to get swung around the dance floor by some local cowboys,” says Stiegler, an Olympian and women’s U.S. Ski Team member. Hike, Ride or Slide Snow King Mountain The small resort rising above Jackson offers winter adventures along with summer fun, including a mountain (alpine) slide, scenic chairlift, bike paths and hiking trails that zigzag across the slopes. Note: Improvement projects will close part of the mountain during the summer of 2015. Dine at Stiegler's Austrian Restaurant & Copper Bar Located in the Aspens, halfway to Teton Village, this favorite eatery bears the stamp of its owner, Peter Stiegler, brother of Olympic champion skier Pepe Stiegler and uncle of current U.S. Ski Team member Resi Stiegler. The menu features Austrian veal, pork and wild game, along with continental entrees. The towering Zwiebel Filet Steak is a must-try. Visit the Wort Hotel and Silver Dollar Bar & Grill Jackson’s first luxury hotel, opened in 1941, the Wort has kept its Wild West vibe while excelling as a top-tier destination; it was named America’s Best Small Historic Hotel for 2013-14. The Wort’s Silver Dollar Bar & Grill serves up regional specialties like beef filet mignon, steelhead trout, wild boar, buffalo brisket and savory salmon. Throw Caution (and Yourself) to the Wind Feeling especially adventurous? Paragliding above Jackson provides a bird’s-eye view of the valley and the Tetons. Experienced mountain pilots with excellent safety records are trained to put flyers at ease on breathtaking tandem flights.
The oil, manufacturing, and construction industries are large and in charge in Campbell County, with many companies experiencing economic success and growth in those sectors. Oil Oil remains a powerful economic force in Campbell County, with area companies producing 10 to 15 million barrels per year and accounting for 20 percent of Wyoming's annual production, according to the Wyoming Oil and Gas Commission. One of the major companies is Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, which controls about 2.8 billion barrels of proven recoverable reserves. Other thriving companies include Devon Energy along with Yates Petroleum Corporation, which is based in New Mexico but drills in four states, including Wyoming. L&H Industrial Inc. A key manufacturing company in Campbell County is L&H Industrial, which in 2013 was awarded a major NASA contract to machine and assemble replacement components for the Crawler Transporter #2. The Crawler is a gigantic machine that slowly transports rockets and space shuttles from the NASA Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center in Florida to the two launch pads that are 3 and 5 miles away. NASA actually has two crawler transporters that were built in the 1960s and are the largest land transport vehicles on Earth, and L&H is producing about 1,300 large replacement parts for Crawler #2. The manufacturing and assembly project is scheduled for completion in 2016. Construction Industry Several companies in Campbell County make up a vibrant construction industry that is built to last. Croell Redi-Mix makes concrete along with asphalt, gravel, sand and stone, while DRM Inc. is a general contractor specializing in road and site-work construction. Other top area contractors include High Plains Builders, Lifestyle Custom Homes, and S&S Builders. Coal The coal industry still has a bright future in Campbell County, with companies extracting low sulfur, sub-bituminous coal from several surface mines. Cloud Peak Energy operates three mines and annually ships more than 80 million tons of coal to customers in the U.S. and around the world. Other top coal-based companies include Alpha Natural Resources, Arch Coal and Peabody Energy. Power Plant Dry Fork Station is a coal-based electric generation power plant that began operations in late 2011, using bituminous coal from the Dry Fork Mine north of Gillette. Dry Fork Station can theoretically provide electricity to 300,000 homes and uses pulverized coal and pollution control technologies that result in low emissions. Transportation Assets Gillette-Campbell County Airport serves the region with carriers Delta and United that offer daily flights to Denver and Salt Lake City. The airport began offering jet service in 2015. Residents rely on DC Cab LLC for taxi and limo services. For recreation, charter bus company Coach America/Powder River Transportation supplies motorcoaches that can transport up to 55 people to national parks, Las Vegas, sporting events, ski trips and more.
Home to the largest city in northeast Wyoming, Gillette-Campbell County offers some of the region’s best shopping. From independent shops to large chain stores, standalone boutiques and shopping centers, Gillette and its surrounding areas boast retail options galore. Downtown Gillette is seeing more activity with the newly reconstructed Gillette Avenue. In conjunction with the Gillette Main Street program, the city also offers regular special events to bring residents downtown. Downtown retail offers an eclectic mix of clothing, toys, cookware and more. Avenue Mall alone offers wares from 40 vendors, including crafts, beauty products, snacks and women’s apparel. “Downtown Gillette is an unexplored treasure chest,” says Jane Burbank, who owns Teacher’s Corner/Kid’s Mart with her husband, Dale. “People don’t realize what’s down here. We have one of the best mixes of shops I’ve seen in long time. Our downtown is definitely growing.” On and around Gillette Avenue, Sole Mates and Crazy Woman Mercantile offer women’s apparel and accessories. YTT Bridal & Formal Wear has special occasion dresses and men's tuxedo rentals. Exclusively Amish Furniture & Gifts offers furniture, rugs, and more. Magpie Designs sells antique furniture and vintage home décor. For the young ones, Teacher’s Corner/Kid’s Mart contains a large inventory of toys and other goodies. Shopping Centers Campbell County has plenty of popular shopping centers, too. Camel Plaza contains a Smith’s grocery store and a range of anchor stores. Powder Basin Shopping Center offers a sprawling Hastings Books, Music & Video. The shopping center also offers cozier shops such as Heaven to Earth, which sells an interesting mix of kitchen and home décor and specialty foods, including olive oil and vinegar on tap. Silverado Center includes A Prairie Dawn, for home décor and gifts; Marshall Jewelry, for very special gifts; plus Applebee's and a selection of fast-food restaurants. Holiday Plaza has an Aaron's Rent-To-Own furniture store and, east of the plaza, an Old Chicago Pizza and Taproom location. Southview Shopping Center offers an interesting mix that includes Laurie’s Flower Hut, Haggerty's Musicworks and The Gillette Meat Market. Under new ownership since early 2014, The Gillette Meat Market offers prime and choice cuts of beef from Missoula, Mont., as well as buffalo from Weston’s Longreach Buffalo Co. The shop also sells lamb, pork, chicken, alligator and a selection of pies. Although owner Julie Ault could have moved the market to one of the area’s newer shopping centers, location, customer demand, plentiful parking and more reasonable overhead prompted her to stay. Since taking over the reins from former owner Butch Byrum, Ault says she has seen new and repeat customers alike, and enjoyed a "terrific" holiday season.
The doctors will see you now — at many top medical facilities located throughout Campbell County. Campbell County Health Campbell County Health underwent a name change in 2014. What had long been Campbell County Memorial Hospital has become Campbell County Health. “We are much more than the hospital, including a long-term care facility, 16 medical clinics, a home health and hospice department, a medical equipment department, and more,” says Karen Clarke, Campbell County Health community relations manager. “For awhile, it was awkward listing everything as ‘the hospital,’ so the new name represents a whole system of care we provide, literally from birth to death and everything in between. The name also emphasizes helping to keep our community healthy, not just taking care of people when they’re sick.” Besides the name change, CCH is constructing a $39 million nursing home on South Douglas Hwy., about 1.5 miles from the hospital campus. The 152-bed facility will open in early 2016 as The Legacy Living & Rehabilitation Center. “Our current long-term care facility opened in the mid-1960s and will be vacated once the new center opens,” Clarke says. “No decision has been made on what will happen to the vacated building, but we might use it for storage or move some clerical departments there.” In other hospital news, Campbell County Health opened a cardiac catheterization lab in June 2014 and added two full-time cardiologists. In February 2015, CCH completed an expansion of the hospital's radiology department. Specialists The Campbell County community has several specialty clinics available to residents, including the Center for Surgical Excellence, North Platte Physical Therapy Services and Rehab Solutions. The Center for Surgical Excellence provides several outpatient surgery procedures in a comfortable setting and at reasonable costs, while North Platte Physical Therapy Services offers treatment for ailments such as back pain, wound care, women's health issues, neurological rehabilitation and pediatric therapy. At Rehab Solutions, the staff provides treatment for issues pertaining to spine and joint discomfort, pre-op and post-operative orthopedics, vertigo and vestibular rehabilitation, and women's health. Optometry and Dentistry For Campbell County residents seeking vision care, Gillette Optometric Clinic, which has been in business since 1969, can diagnose and treat a range of eye diseases, conditions, and problems using the most advanced technology and eye care products. For dental needs in the community, Powder River Dental offers traditional treatments along with cosmetic procedures like bleaching, porcelain veneers and Invisalign orthodontics. Meanwhile, Dr. Daniel Morrison oversees Gillette Dental Group and offers services such as implant dentistry, oral surgery, pediatric dentistry, and periodontal therapy.
Campbell County may be known best for its natural beauty, energy industry and fishing, but visitors and residents can attest to its somewhat surprising options among restaurants and bars. There are steaks and sushi alongside spicy Pho, freshly made French pastries and a watering hole devoted entirely to the oldest form of alcohol known to man. Big Lost Meadery Visitors to Sam Clikeman’s Big Lost Meadery may wander in looking for a typical bar atmosphere and standard cocktails, but they'll find something far more unusual. Clikeman specializes in mead, which is a fermented honey-based alcohol with a flavor and texture that hovers somewhere between wine and liquor. Situated in a fully restored historic building in downtown Gillette, Big Lost patrons enjoy their mead in a resin-coated cow horn, where it is dispensed directly from the oak barrels in which it's made. Big Lost eschews TVs and blaring music, in favor of conversation, board games or even a good book — all activities perfectly suited to indulging in mankind’s oldest libation. Jordan’s Western Dining With steaks grilled over the restaurant’s custom blend of wood, and the benefit of an in-house sushi chef, Jordan’s Western Dining delivers the best of western-themed dining while keeping the menu fresh and interesting. Run by father-daughter duo, John and Jordan Fischer, Jordan’s is loved for its flown-in-fresh-from-Alaska seafood and top-quality steaks. Jordan's also has occasional live music events abd nightly specials that have become can't-miss among locals. The Fischer family has long been an integral part of the mining and power-generation industries that are central to the community. As such, Jordan’s Western Dining is an ideal place to experience the true local flavor of Campbell County. Pho and Bakery 59 Minh and Mai Nguyen moved to Gillette in 2009 to open a nail salon. They couldn’t have imagined that one of their customers there, Vietnam War veteran Steve King, would inspire them to open what would become one of Gillette’s most popular restaurants, serving the flavors of their homeland. Pho and Bakery 59, which is managed by Steve King, specializes in Pho (an herby, spicy broth full of noodles and meat, seafood or tofu). Not only that, but the beloved little eatery also bakes up a delightful variety of French pastries and breads. Fiesta Tequila Mexican Restaurant For those times when only a plate of enchiladas and a frosty margarita will do, Fiesta Tequila Mexican Restaurant is the place to get your fix. This friendly, locally run restaurant is a favorite for Mexican favorites as well as imaginative culinary tweaks on traditional Latin specialties. I Siciliani Italian Restaurant Diners who crave authentic, traditional Italian cuisine prefer I Siciliani Italian Restaurant, which offers dinner, lunch and children's menus, as well as a menu specific to its popular full-service bar. The restaurant serves up classic, rich and hearty dishes featuring pasta, steak, chicken and seafood, including entrees such as Pollo Cacciatore, Milanese Napolitana and Salmon Al Grill. Sapporo Japanese Steakhouse One of the area's newest dining options, Sapporo Japanese Steakhouse opened in 2015 within the extensively remodeled Ramada Plaza Gillette. The restaurant is already receiving rave reviews for its atmosphere, superior service and food. Menu options include lunch and dinner hibachi dishes, bento boxes for lunch, as well as fresh sushi and sashimi.
While energy industries are not immune to economic ups and downs, the world’s need for power is growing. And as it grows, Campbell County grows with it. As the Energy Capital of the Nation, a title it has earned since the energy boom of the 1970s put the area on the map, Campbell County provides 40 percent of America’s coal and supports prosperous petroleum and natural gas industries, uranium mining, and related industries. In turn, these industries' success results in a local unemployment rate of less than 4 percent and a median household income of more than $75,000, and prompts growth of infrastructure, amenities, and residential and commercial development. Staying in Growth Mode “We’ve been on a very good track record to keep the community in a growth mode,” says Energy Capital Economic Development Director Phil Christopherson, who moved to Gillette, “a vibrant, forward-thinking community,” in 2014. “Nobody is bulletproof, but an economy based on energy, with the increasing demand, gives us a very good base.” Energy’s profitability has rapidly driven up the county population to more than 46,000 in the past 10 years, as workers flock from around the country to take high-paying jobs with such major corporations as Anadarko (petroleum), Cloud Peak (coal mining) and Arch Coal, which operates the Black Thunder mine in Wright. More than a third of the county’s workers are involved directly in the energy industry. The increasing population has driven construction of housing, retail and commercial facilities, municipal amenities, and more. In 2014 alone, a generous handful of new restaurants opened, including Buffalo Wild Wings, a Jimmy John's sandwich shop, an Italian restaurant, a Vietnamese Pho restaurant and bakery, a barbecue eatery, and a coffee shop. A Hilton Home 2, a Spring Hill Suites and Marriott Town Place will open in 2015, providing nearly 300 new hotel rooms. And a new Tractor Supply Company and Menard’s will increase shopping options, which also include a bustling boutique retail scene in downtown Gillette. Also reflecting the population boom, both Lakeview Elementary and Westwood High School moved into spacious new buildings in 2014. The Wright Way Growth is especially evident in Wright, which was founded in the 1970s by Atlantic Richfield Company (ARCO) to accommodate miners. The town has undertaken an ambitious rebranding initiative, including a comprehensive master plan that outlines development over the next 15 years. It has already invested much in meeting residents' needs, from updated parks and a new recreation center to a new town hall and the Southern Campbell County Agriculture Complex, a $7.5 million facility for livestock boarding and rodeo events year round. “It’s hard to predict the future, but we see steady growth ahead,” says Brandi Harlow, economic development director for Wright. “There are still plenty of good jobs here, and it’s a great place to raise your kids and be in a community.” Both Harlow and Christopherson say the drop in oil prices during the winter of 2014-15 is not a concern, and may in fact provide a much-needed breather from nonstop growth of the past few years. “We have businesses wanting to move into the community, but they can’t find space because the demand has outpaced the supply,” Christopherson says. “A little slowdown wouldn’t hurt us and might give us a chance to catch up a bit.”
Looking for somewhere fun to take the family in Campbell County? Just ask local moms. They’ve got the dish on some of the kid-friendliest spots in town. With a large population of young families (68 percent of Gillette citizens are under the age of 45), it’s no surprise Campbell County Memorial Hospital delivers 800 babies on average every year. And those babies become active kids, thanks to Gillette's family-focused culture. Newcomers Discover Gillette’s Assets Molly Foster and her husband, Paul, moved to Gillette in June 2014 when Paul became general manager of Gillette’s CAM-PLEX facility. “We moved from the rugged mountains of central Utah to the beautiful, wild plains of eastern Wyoming, so we are reinventing how we enjoy recreation together,” says Foster, who has an education consulting business named We Are Liberty Kids, and is a mom of five: Lydia, 17; Avery, 14; Nora, 11; Lucas, 9; and Hyrum, 6. The Foster family’s favorite places include the Campbell County Recreation Center and the public library. “At the rec center, the possibilities for play are endless. We can run, lift, take a class, swim, play soccer, basketball, tennis, rock climb or sit in the sauna,” Foster says. “The library is also a weekly go-to for our family. There are quiet, comfortable nooks that beckon even my 6-year-old to sit still and learn something.” The Foster kids take piano and violin lessons and unleash their creativity through art classes at AVA Community Art Center. “We also enjoy the shows CAM-PLEX offers and love the Rockpile Museum, the Planetarium and the Lakeway Science Center,” Foster says. “We love great food, so trying all the local restaurants has been a blast. The kids love Humphrey’s. What kid doesn’t like deep-fried green beans?” Foster says Gillette is the most welcoming community they've ever lived in. “Raising our family here will be exciting because of the emphasis the community places on family,” she says. “The educational, recreational and work opportunities make Gillette a perfect home to raise hard-working, happy kids.” Youth Sports and Music in Gillette Randi Napier, a substitute teacher and mom of four, is also fairly new to Gillette. She and her husband, Carter, relocated to Gillette in 2011 when Carter became city administrator. Their children are Dallon, 18; Hailee, 15; Mason, 10; and Ainslee, 8. “Dallon’s doing track this year and loves basketball. He helps coach Mason's soccer team,” Napier says. “Ainsley plays soccer too, and Hailee plays volleyball at school and through Gillette’s AAU volleyball club. Our whole family loves bowling and going to the movies, and the boys like rock climbing at the rec center.” Ainslee and Mason take piano lessons and sing in a choir called Preludia. Dallon, Hailee and Randi take voice lessons at Smothermon Vocal Studio. Dallon sings in a group named Fifteen Minutes of Fame. The Napier family’s favorite restaurants include Los Compadres (Mexican) and Old Chicago, known for handmade pizzas. “We came to Gillette because we wanted our kids to have great schools, a safe community and lots of programs for kids,” Napier says. “The people have been good to us.” Allison Carsrud and her husband, Tim, are longtime residents of Gillette. Allison works at Gillette College as the Athletics/Booster Club assistant, and Tim is a city council member. They have three children: Skylar, 22; McKenna, 19; and Timmy, 16, and are adopting 8-year-old Danny from Africa. “We’re very involved with Living Rock Church,” Carsrud says. “We attend Campbell County High School and Gillette College Pronghorn basketball games. We belong to the booster club at the college, and we’re a host family to two women athletes.” In summer, the Carsrud family enjoys Bell Knob Golf Course and the free city pool. “Gillette is where my heart is," Carsrud says.
As the oil, coal, and natural gas industries continue to boom in Gillette and Campbell County, so do the service and support industries, which has led to an unprecedented number of jobs and opportunities in areas such as information technology and construction. From Coal to Coaxial Kevin Couch, owner of Turn-Key Technologies, has experienced those opportunities firsthand. He spent two years working in the IT department of a coal mining operation before starting his own technology company servicing a range of industries. “Starting my own company was something I always wanted to do,” Couch says. “In Campbell County, the boom in the energy industry has allowed support industries like ours to grow. There's a tremendous demand to make things happen right now.” Couch says employees with IT skills are especially in high demand since IT is a core need of every business, particularly those within the energy industry. “There aren't a ton of people with those top-tier skills in networking,” he says. “And we need people who not only have the IT skills, but also the customer service skills and the ability to analyze problems, make recommendations, and follow through on those recommendations. There's that trust the customer needs from you because if their computer is down or their IT system is down, they can't function as a business.” Building a Skilled Workforce Roy Lowell, owner of On the Level Construction, agrees that finding enough skilled labor to meet the demands of a thriving job market can be challenging. Lowell and his wife, Sherry, moved to Gillette from Michigan in 2006. Michigan's housing market was on the decline, and Wyoming was experiencing a construction boom thanks to a first wave of energy growth. “We were looking for a place where we could build homes, and with the oil, gas and coal industries, Gillette was a booming place,” Lowell says. “People were moving to Gillette in droves. When I moved here in 2006, the entire state had a total of 400,000 people, and now the population is closer to 600,000.” He says that even though growth is expected to continue, the availability of “skilled workers with the appropriate training” is not guaranteed, and that can be bad for business. “Here in Campbell County, we pay the high dollar to get the most highly skilled and trained workers, and we have people coming from out of state just to work, but those people are less likely to buy a home and establish roots. We need more homegrown, skilled workers,” he says. Fortunately, Campbell County is equipped to produce a highly skilled and educated workforce. The $39.9 million Gillette College Technology Education Center – which Lowell's company helped build – trains students in areas such as welding technology, mining technology and industrial safety. Junior high and high school students also receive specialized instruction at the Tech Center through the Campbell County School District's Project Lead the Way pre-engineering program. QOL Control Couch, who has lived in Gillette since 2002, says this second wave of growth is much more “controlled” than the growth the region experienced at the turn of the century. “We're on the flip side of that now. I've been in Campbell County since 2002, so I lived through the first energy boom on the coal bed and methane side,” he says. “Looking back, that growth was out of control. You just couldn't keep people, and you couldn't keep on top of the growth. It was go, go, go. We were working 12- and 14-hour days for a few years. This growth is more calculated.” He says part of the reason is that the community has matured in terms of its livability. “Campbell County has matured a ton. There's a lot more infrastructure. There are a lot of amenities you can't get anywhere else in the region. Gillette has become a more livable community as opposed to just some place people came to work,” Couch says.
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