Geologic formations within Wyoming's Overthrust Belt fuel profitable production of natural gas. The massive methane deposits found there have prompted plans for a multi-billion-dollar network of pipelines in the state. The majority of the natural gas mining and pipeline growth is occurring in the neighboring counties of Sweetwater and Sublette. Sublette County contains the majority of the natural gas deposits, while Sweetwater County and the cities of Rock Springs and Green River serve as gateways to the reserve areas of Wyoming.
This unprecedented growth in Sweetwater and Sublette Counties has prompted critical needs within the housing sector, a situation that the cities of Rock Springs and Green River, with over 33 residential subdivisions currently under construction, are striving to address.
Located in the northeastern part of the state, the economy of Gillette and the Powder River Basin is highly dominated by the area's rich coal reserves. This area of Wyoming accounts for more than 35% of the nation's coal production, which in turn accounts for approximately 15% of the nation's electric energy. Four coal-fired power plants and two natural-gas power plants currently operate in Gillette. New coal-fired power plants under development include:
- Black Hills Corporation's 90-megawatt Wygen II plant
- Two Elk Generation Partners’ 310-megawatt plant
- Basin Electric Power Cooperative's 250-megawatt plant
- Rio Tinto Energy America
- Powder River Coal Company
- Thunder Basin Coal Company
- Foundation Coal West
The following table illustrates unemployment data for Campbell County, which contains the city of Gillette, Sweetwater County, Wyoming, and the nation:
Unemployment in these parts of Wyoming has fallen dramatically in the past decade, concurrent with the rise in energy industry activity. This activity is generating unprecedented occupancy levels in these regions due to a limited lodging infrastructure and the prohibitive distance from the state’s major population centers and established room supply. Companies have even gone so far as to build their own lodging facilities given the lack of suitable hotels proximate to their operation sites.
Occupancy and average rate in the southwestern Wyoming market have been steadily increasing since 1996. New hotels have easily been absorbed, as the market sells out almost one-half of the year; year-to-date, occupancy for the stronger branded properties has remained well above the 85% mark. The market is busiest on weekdays, which in turn commands the highest rates. Weekend occupancy remains strong, as activity in the region is prevalent seven days a week and extended-stay demand is high.
Occupancy and average rate in the northeastern Wyoming market have experienced a similar upward trend. The market sells out seven days a week throughout the summer months, and hotels that entered the market several years ago have already been absorbed; year-to-date, occupancy has remained above the 70% mark. The summer months command the highest average rate because of the heightened levels of travel during this season. Only two new hotels are presently under construction, and these are expected to be easily absorbed upon opening.
Wyoming’s energy corridors have emerged as the largest natural gas and coal mining and development areas in the United States. The state has seen an increase in population and commercial development because of this growth, particularly in Sweetwater and Sublette Counties and the Powder River Basin. Lodging trends in these energy corridors have been increasing for over a decade, and most recently, hotels have reached critical capacity. Moreover, while the pipeline for new hotel construction is starting to gain momentum, the hotels being built are relatively small and should be easily absorbed into their respective markets. In sum, natural resource-related operations in Wyoming have paved the way for a lodging boom, and an ever-growing workforce anxiously awaits new supply to meet the demand.
 U.S. Census Bureau, 2006 Population Estimates
 Gearino, Jeff. “Expansion planned at Bridger power plant” Casper StarTribune.net 6 (2006) June 2007.
 “Social & Economic Impacts to Sublette County, WY from Natural Gas Development”
 Workforce estimates based on BLS and Wyoming QCEW data
 WY Dept of Revenue Sales and Use Tax Data Fiscal Year 2006
 BLM Pinedale Anticline DEIS (Dec 2006)