CHEYENNE – Gov. Matt Mead and Wyoming’s four other top elected officials approved $41 million in loans Thursday for three companies.
The five elected leaders, serving as the State Loan and Investment Board, approved two economic development loans for $15 million and one for $11 million.
Denver-based Standard Alcohol received one of the $15 million loans. It wants to build a $76 million production plant at Swan Ranch south of Cheyenne and west of Interstate 25.
The company will turn natural gas and carbon dioxide into mixed alcohols for use as a fuel additive. Standard Alcohol plans to create 32 new jobs in Cheyenne and has invested $9 million into the project.
Michael Pardun is Standard Alcohol’s chief executive officer. He said the company will generate more than $100 million in sales and property taxes after the first 20 years.
He told the state board why the company chose Wyoming.
“You all are blessed with natural resources,” he said. Wyoming also has a “world-class infrastructure” of railroads, pipes and highways.
“We’re thrilled,” Robert Mulverhill said after SLIB approved the loan. He is the executive chairman of Standard Alcohol.
The company first asked the Wyoming Business Council for a $25 million loan, which was cut to $17.4 million and then to $15 million Thursday.
Mulverhill said the company can move ahead with the $15 million loan.
State Treasurer Mark Gordon and State Auditor Cynthia Cloud voted against the Standard Alcohol loan proposal.
The other loans the board approved were:
- $15 million to Atlas Carbon in Gillette to expand its activated carbon plant there.
- $11 million to Cody Laboratories to expand its pharmaceutical manufacturing process. Gordon voted against this proposal.
All loans must be checked to make sure they meet legal and other requirements before they take effect.
The loans are the first to come through the state’s Economic Development Large Project program. The state Legislature passed a bill in 2014 to establish the program and provided $25 million.
State lawmakers passed another bill in 2016 that opened up the process for all companies to apply for the loans.
The program is geared to help create permanent jobs, diversify the state’s economy, and increase sales and property tax revenues.
Private companies that apply must agree to invest not less than 25 percent of the total cost of the project in county buildings and infrastructure.
The State Loan and Investment Board also agreed to transfer $16 million from the state’s Challenge Loan Program to the Economic Development Large Project Program.
The three companies that applied originally asked for loans that totaled $84 million.
Mead said he reviewed three great proposals from the companies. But there wasn’t enough money to go with it.
He asked Shawn Reese, the Business Council’s executive director, and Josh Keefe, the council’s economic development finance manager, to try to find money for the loan program.
The two met briefly and came back to the meeting with proposals to use more of the Challenge Loan money than originally planned, among other changes.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow said she had concerns about changing the rules of the loan program. But she also praised the action, saying it cut through bureaucratic red tape.
Mead reminded her that these weren’t official rules, but were proposals developed by the Business Council staff.
He said he was uncomfortable about the original disparity in funding levels among the three loans.
Secretary of State Ed Murray supported the transfer of $16 million to the economic development loan account.
“I think it’s the right use of that money,” Murray said.