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Mild climate, low living costs characterize goshen county

Written by Christy Hemken
Goshen County – Although known by outsiders and referred to by citizens as a lower-income area of Wyoming, most people in Goshen County count that as a positive characteristic.
    Add the low taxes and living costs to a warmer climate with less snowfall than the rest of the state, and most Goshen County members of Wyoming’s agriculture industry are thankful to live there.
    According to 2009 information, Goshen County’s climate includes an average July high temperature of 73 degrees and an average high for January of 38 degrees, with 14 inches of annual rainfall and an average of 34 inches of snow each winter.
    According to the Goshen County Economic Development Corp., Goshen County’s principle industry is agriculture, listing sugar beets, potatoes, beans, corn, wheat and other grains and alfalfa as the crops produced there.
    More than 20,000 cattle are raised in the county, which makes it the state’s leading beef producer. Torrington Livestock Markets is also the largest cattle auction in Wyoming, and according to their website became the largest independent cattle auction in the nation in 1999.
    The agriculture/forestry industry in Goshen County accounts for 12.8 percent of employment with 934 citizens involved. That’s topped by government at 1,230 citizens and 16.9 percent and closely followed by health and social services at 12.4 percent and the retail trade at 10.7 percent.
    While the school district and Banner Health are the largest employers in the county, the Western Sugar Cooperative comes in third, with 85 full-time and 280 seasonal employees. Torrington Livestock Markets is ninth on the list with 56 employees, while Wyoming Ethanol is 10th with 30.
    According to Goshen County Economic Development Corp., small towns in the county are seeing a reverse in population declines for the first time in three decades. “With modest growth in attractive neighborhoods, Yoder, Hawk Springs and Veteran have beautiful community centers and new businesses worth celebrating,” says the Corporation.
    The county is undergoing a big change with the construction and staffing of a new prison east of town, but most in the ag industry don’t see it as a concern, but rather as a positive for the economy.
    “The prison will be an economic boost for Goshen County but will also make things a little tight for a while as far as housing goes,” says farmer and cattle feeder Randy Steben.
    Hay producer Ervin Gara III says many people are moving in from Michigan. “There is some new construction, but the housing market is tight,” he says. “I’ve had calls from a couple people looking to live in the country, but there are no houses out here.”
    He says right now the prison is challenged with finding enough staff to fill their available positions.
    Of concerns with having the prison in the neighborhood, Gara adds, “I lived near a maximum security prison in Virginia, and you really didn’t know it was there.”
    For more info on Goshen County visit www.goshenwyo.com. Christy Hemken is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..