New marketing coordinator focuses on Upton community development in 2023
10 Feb 2023
Economic development often works best by understanding local strengths and focusing on an integrated approach centered on a community’s goals. As the new Economic Development and Marketing Coordinator with the Upton Economic Development Board (UEDB), Kade McMillan is an expert on the local angle, with a mindset to build that future direction.
“Growing up in Upton, I’ve been able to witness the community rally around individuals and businesses to show support and compassion to improve life for all,” he said. “It is essential to listen to the people who have been part of the community to fully understand what aspects of the town, region and state can provide opportunities that support everybody’s ideals and values.
Upton is home to McMillan, who was born and raised there before graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Marketing and Sales from the University of Wyoming in December 2021. As grandson to Carmen Diehl, one of the local innovators involved with establishing the town’s rail business park, he grew up watching his family commit fully to Upton’s “Best Town on Earth” motto.
“A passion for community development grew in me throughout my youth,” McMillan said. “Ultimately, the opportunity to strengthen Upton’s future led me back home in 2022.”
McMillan began his tenure last year busy with various grant funding and marketing activities to strengthen the connection between the UEDB and relevant stakeholders. His vision for 2023 is to create a foundation for community and economic development through a cultivated community mindset. With input from Upton’s organizations, stakeholders and residents, he believes a unified path forward can position Upton to capitalize on emerging economic trends.
“We’ve begun to transition into that shift, actively working together to create that foundation,” he said. “Continuing to build that community-based mindset will open the door for unified success for the years to come.”
Regarding long-term goals, McMillan points to three primary areas of focus.
McMillan said creating strategies to make Tiger Transfer Logistics Center at the forefront of Upton’s industry is essential to the town's development. It has positioned itself for economic success by becoming Wyoming’s first BNSF-certified site in November 2022, making it one of the country’s only combined BNSF-certified site/premier transloading facilities. Together with UEDB and the Town of Upton, Tiger Transfer has laid the framework to utilize over 300 acres of available developable land to allow businesses to thrive in Upton.
“Created fully by volunteers in the early 2000s, Tiger Transfer has done the work to create diversified industries in Upton,” he said. “With the Rare Element Resources’ Demonstration Plant in development stages, Upton is uniquely positioned with industry opportunities available.”
Enhancing quality of life
McMillan has always been impressed with the quality of life enjoyed by the Upton community. While offering the peace and quality of rural America, it is ‘close to everything that matters.’ As the “Gateway to the Black Hills,” there are beautiful landscapes and tourism in the summer with outstanding quietness in the winter. Weston County School District #7 is small but seeks to prepare students to excel in all aspects of life by providing students and families with an innovative education system that emphasizes personalized learning models suited better for the learning individual.
“Capitalizing on the best advantages of both worlds offers so much opportunity for Upton,” he said.
His time away from home helped him realize every location always has room for improvement to maximize residents’ lives. Upton will benefit most by creating a housing market to support the influx of people moving to the community. The City of Upton is in the midst of encouraging that growth, with one example being the completion of three street/sewer system projects in 2022. Promoting recreation and social opportunities will also be important to increase the area’s quality of life.
Setting a core foundation for tourism in Upton is another focus for McMillan. With the Black Hills National Forest in Upton’s backyard, Devils Tower National Monument, Terry Peak Ski Resort and multiple national parks within driving distance, Upton has so much for individuals and families to see and do. Historical buffs are drawn to the Upton History and Heritage and the Weston County Museum District and building on them could be beneficial too.
“There’s unmatched tourism potential to shape Upton as a “Gateway to the Black Hills,” said McMillan. “As the first transition from the grassland of central Wyoming to the hills to the east, we can adapt to capitalize on affordable tourism for the future.”
McMillan has plenty of optimism in Upton’s capacity to grow and develop due to a business-friendly environment that includes a low tax burden and financing incentives through Wyoming entities like the Wyoming Business Council that allow businesses to enjoy the freedom to do what they do best.
Parties interested in opportunities in Upton can reach Kade at (307) 282-0652.
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