Aviation Professional Building

The Aviation Professional Building, also known as the former Great Lakes Airlines headquarters at 1022 Airport Parkway, is seen Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2018, at 1022 Airport Parkway in Cheyenne. Wyoming Tribune Eagle/file

CHEYENNE – Plans to develop a $17.8 million manufacturing plant in Cheyenne are moving forward.

The Wyoming Business Council board on Thursday recommended the state approve a $9.35 million loan for the construction of an 80,000-square-foot biomedical facility on the city’s east side.

The loan, funded through the state’s Economic Development Large Project program, is still subject to State Loan and Investment Board review and governor approval.

Owners of California-based Innovive, a company registered as WYTEC locally, are working with economic development groups to design and build a state-of-the-art manufacturing plant in the Cheyenne Business Parkway within two years. Cheyenne LEADS, which owns the business park, would sell the acreage to WYTEC.

The company specializes in disposable caging products for laboratory rodents used in medical research. Traditionally, these animals are housed in thick plastic containers that require regular sterilization, but Innovive CEO Dee Conger told the Wyoming Tribune Eagle in February this method is expensive and time-consuming.

“We patented single-use disposable cages,” Conger said. “They come to you sterile, and when you’re done with them, you just put them back in the bag, and we come and recycle them.”

Conger said Innovive would move its entire production to Cheyenne – a boon to the city and Wyoming. Although the plastics manufacturer now uses a third party to sterilize the cages, owners want to expand and offer those services, too.

The company plans to employ 80 to 100 local workers, and the Business Council estimates a $3.2 million economic benefit to Wyoming annually.

“The Business Council actually contracts with an outside firm to do that analysis,” said Cheyenne LEADS CEO Randy Bruns. “They look at payroll, capital investment and investment in personal property. We always try to estimate on the conservative side to see what the more modest impacts would be.”

Conger also owns fixed-base operator Circle Air Group, and both companies are currently leasing space in the Aviation Professional Building, also known as the former Great Lakes Airlines headquarters at 1022 Airport Parkway.

Cheyenne LEADS is helping to facilitate the move, but Bruns said it’s not a done deal.

“It’s still in question whether they’ll build the whole facility or not,” he said. “Time is of the essence. They have options other than Cheyenne, but everyone wants it to happen here.”

Bruns is particularly excited about the prospect of attracting a new industry to Cheyenne.

“They bring some new technologies to the area,” he said. “It would also expand the technical capabilities here with the sterilizing facility, and that opens up a new potential cluster of manufacturing we could attract. But, even with the initial impact, those construction and trade jobs are very important.”

In April, the Laramie County Commission voted to apply for $6 million in Business Ready Community grant and loan funding, but developers recently decided to apply for the large loan funding instead. WYTEC’s bank would put up $4 million, and Innovive would repay the loan over 20 years.

“We received an application from WYTEC on June 7,” said Josh Keefe, economic development finance manager for the Business Council. “The company has had an upward trend for a number of years as far as gross revenues and profitably, and Conger also has the capacity to personally guarantee the loan.”

Susan Coll, vice president of corporate development and co-owner of Innovive, said the move to Cheyenne would centralize her company’s production process.

“Having it located somewhere in the middle of the country is fantastic,” she said, adding that Cheyenne offers low-cost distribution and a “reasonably priced” source of energy.

Chrissy Suttles is the Wyoming Tribune Eagle’s business and health reporter. She can be reached at csuttles@wyomingnews.com or 307-633-3183. Follow her on Twitter at @chrissysuttles.

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