State board approves seven projects at quarterly meeting

The State Loan and Investment Board (SLIB) approved funding for seven projects at its quarterly board meeting Thursday in Cheyenne.

SLIB awarded three companies a total of $41 million in Economic Development Large Project loan requests – none of the three approved large project loans were the full amounts requested.

Standard Alcohol, Atlas Carbon and Cody Laboratories have until the end of 2016 to show they have the funding to cover the difference between the loan amounts and project costs.
Going forward, the state treasurer’s office will work with the businesses on terms like loan rate and number of years for repayment.

Gov. Matt Mead has final approval of the Economic Development Large Project loans.

Economic Development Large Project Program
About the Program: Through this program, the state treasurer is authorized to lend funds for the benefit of Wyoming businesses. Loans may finance purchase, construction and installation of buildings or equipment, which will add economic value to goods, services or resources within the state. A loan amount may not exceed an increase in assessed valuation created by a project.

• Standard Alcohol requested a $25 million loan to help build its $76 million production facility in Cheyenne for turning natural gas and carbon dioxide into mixed alcohols for use as a fuel additive. The project is expected to create 32 new jobs paying an average hourly wage of $43.57. The project will add value to the state’s natural resources. (SLIB approved partial funding of $15 million.)

• Atlas Carbon requested a $25 million loan to expand its activated carbon plant in Gillette. The project build-out will cost $25 million. The company revised its request to SLIB for $15 million to cover one new production line. The expansion will allow the company to double its production from 16,000 pounds to 32,000 pounds of activated carbon annually. It would also provide an overall economic benefit to both Campbell County and the state of Wyoming by adding value to the region’s natural resources. (SLIB approved partial funding of $15 million.)

• Cody Laboratories requested a $33,750,000 loan to expand its pharmaceutical manufacturing process in Cody. The $45 million project would more than double production to 11 metric tons per year. The company would increase full-time employees from 117 to 156, paying an average hourly wage of $21.57. (SLIB approved partial funding of $11 million.)

Business Ready Community Grant and Loan Program
The state board also approved $4.2 million in Business Ready Community (BRC) grant and loan requests for two new projects and two projects partially funded in April.
About the Program: The Business Ready Community grant and loan program provides financing for publicly owned infrastructure that serves the needs of businesses and promotes economic development within Wyoming communities.

Partially-Funded Projects from April 2016
• Rock Springs – Sweetwater County Joint Powers Board requested a $2 million Community Readiness grant to fully fund a new general aviation terminal and hangar at the Rock Springs/Sweetwater County Airport east of Rock Springs. The new construction will replace the old facilities with a 4,000 square-foot general aviation terminal and a 22,500-square-foot hangar. This project is expected to create seven jobs and increase revenue because the new facility by allowing overnight stays for aircraft. The airport anticipates increasing general aviation traffic by 20 percent within five years and increasing hangar rental revenue by 60 percent within five years. (SLIB approved in full.)

• Sheridan requested a $1.5 million Community Readiness grant to fully fund the renovation of the Hallmark building north of the WYO Theater and integrate it into the WYO Performing Arts and Education Center. The project will improve quality of life, support cultural tourism in Sheridan, increase investment in the downtown area and expand access to the arts. Advocates expect the project to increase downtown visits and business activity through increased use of the theater. (SLIB approved in full.)

Community Readiness
• The Old Pen Joint Powers Board requested a $1,208,413 grant to renovate the historic Wyoming Frontier Prison Guards’ Quarters in Rawlins. The project will create space to accommodate the Carbon County Visitors Council, an entrepreneurial space, a conference room and additional restrooms. (SLIB recommended the applicant change its request to a Community Enhancement grant for re-evaluation at a future WBC Board meeting.)

Community Enhancement
• Lander requested a $466,210 grant and $313,710 loan to build a 3,400 square-foot Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center. The project is intended to attract, enhance and increase visitation to the region, provide handicap-accessible facilities, offer extra office space and retain and expand businesses by providing services as a chamber and business complex. (SLIB approved the full grant of $466,210 grant and a partial $194,316 loan, in accordance with the BRC allocation plan and available enhancement funding.)

• Niobrara County requested a $50,000 grant to develop a long-term community development and housing plan. The plan will serve as a recovery blueprint to the 500-year flood, which caused extensive damage to Lusk and Niobrara County on June 4, 2015. (SLIB approved partial funding with a $44,035 grant in accordance with the BRC allocation plan and available planning grant funding.)

The state board comprises the five statewide elected officials: the governor, secretary of state, state auditor, state treasurer and state superintendent of public instruction.
Each project is evaluated by staff at the Wyoming Business Council (WBC), the state’s economic development agency. Staff recommendations are presented to the WBC Board of Directors. The board forwards its recommendations to the SLIB for final approval.

From Wyoming Business Report