Upton Community Forum

Upton Community Forum Main Photo

13 Jun 2022


The evening of May 26, 2022 an Upton Community Forum was hosted by the Upton Chamber of Commerce and Upton Economic Development Board (UEDB), open to all in the community. It kicked off with a complimentary dinner served by Joe’s Food Center. Over 50 people were in attendance, including Senator Ogden Driskill, Representative Chip Neiman, and Representative JD Williams.

Guest speaker, Pat Wyss, Principal of Wyss Associates, Inc. presented the results of an Upton Downtown Property Study. The project was funded by a grant from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)-Department of Rural Business Development (RBDG). The purpose of the project is for technical assistance with a Feasibility Study on Building Types and Uses Needed for Business Growth and Workforce Development. The results of the study will be used to 1) attract downtown building development; 2) facilitate business growth; and 3) create a Center for LOCAL business support services and workforce training.

Moderator, Chamber President Buffy Helwig welcomed those in attendance, and made opening remarks and announcements.  She introduced the next phase of the Think Upton First campaign -- Think Upton First 2.0, which begins in June.

Next, Stephanie Salazar, UEDB Executive Director introduced guest speaker Patrick Wyss.

“When the UEDB directors decided to apply for 2021 USDA RBDG funding for a downtown property study we asked Pat Wyss to provide a proposal that would identify building types and uses needed for business growth and workforce development,” said Salazar.  “Even before we were awarded the grant, and prior to hiring Wyss Associates, he traveled to Upton to look at the study area. That is remarkable, in my experience!” she exclaimed.

Salazar went on to say that Pat Wyss is the founder of Wyss Associates, Inc., an urban planning and landscape architecture firm based out of Rapid City, SD since 1981.  At the time there weren’t any firms doing this type of work in the Wyoming or South Dakota Black Hills Region.

Pat is CLARB certified and registered in eight states across the United States.  CLARB is the Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards. Pat has been actively involved in the American Society of Landscape Architects, where he has served as the national Vice-President and was elected Fellow in 1993.                                                                                                                

Active in the community, Pat has volunteered his time to a number of nonprofit organizations, including:

  • the Rapid City Chamber of Commerce as Board Chair, and during his tenure he helped initiate the resurgence of downtown Rapid City; and
  • he has also served as president for the Rapid City Fine Arts Council

Some notable projects include:

  • Design of Mt. Rushmore National Memorial grounds;  
  • Hill City, SD truck bypass Environmental Impact Study, which led to the transformation of Hill City’s Main Street; 
  • He conducted the redesign efforts at Rapid City’s Main Street Square; and
  • Recently completed a Sylvan Lake Area Master Plan in Custer State Park.

Wyss began the presentation by reviewing the study area and its features, talked about property owner involvement and feedback, and explained that the plans presented in the report are conceptual in nature and do not imply that the property owners will proceed with those ideas independently. 

The report provides a variety of concepts and options for types of businesses to develop, a location for a business resource center, development opportunities, as well as open space and streetscape design to define the area and reflect the character in the heart of downtown.

At the end of the presentation, attendees had the opportunity to ask questions about the study, and share their opinions. Notably, Wyoming Representative Chip Neiman shared his experiences with building a business and a community.

Wyss emphasized that “a community should be built for the community members and residents first.”

Chamber President Helwig thanked Pat for the presentation and the audience for attending. Helwig invited attendees to participate in making Upton a better place for all; and asked everyone to “sign up to join the Think Upton First 2.0 Team to make Upton ‘The Best Town on Earth.’”