City approves grant submission for Vacutech expansion

SHERIDAN — Sheridan City Council voted Monday to support the submission of a $3 million grant proposal to the Wyoming Business Council that would enable the expansion of Vacutech in the High Tech Business Park.

The Sheridan Economic and Educational Development Authority will submit the request for a Business Committed grant, which is used to get a commitment from a business to expand in a city in exchange for meeting certain performance standards such as job creation, SEEDA Administrator and City Planning and Development Director Robert Briggs said.

As matching funds for the grant, SEEDA will contribute four acres of business park land, an in-kind donation worth an estimated $360,000, and Vacutech will contribute one acre of land, worth $90,000, and a cash match of $221,000. As a partner in SEEDA, the city was requested to support the grant submission.

SEEDA will own the proposed 45,000-square-foot building for five years. Vacutech will lease the building during that time at market rate, an estimated monthly rate of $21,666. At the end of five years, Vacutech will have the option to purchase the building.

Briggs said between the sum of lease payments and the final sale of the building, the estimated direct recapture of funds by SEEDA is $3.2 million.

Banner resident Vicki Taylor expressed concern about a private business seeking to partner with the city and SEEDA to expand. She wanted to know what the plan was if Vacutech defaults and why Vacutech has not approached a bank for funding to expand.

“It’s not a give away,” Briggs said.

Councilman John Heath, who is also chairman of the SEEDA board, said he saw the opportunity as ideal for adding jobs to the local economy, especially since Sheridan College produces graduates with the right training for skilled manufacturing.

“I’ve got to tell you, this is what we’re looking for, the types of jobs we’re looking for,” Heath said.

When Vacutech moved to Wyoming, it brought eight employees with from Colorado, Briggs said. The business now employs 80 and is expecting to employ 120 within a few years.

In a similar economic development strain, the council also approved allocating $10,000 of economic development contingency funds from Optional One-Cent Sales Tax dollars to support the kickoff of a tri-cities regional marketing initiative.

The initiative will bring Sheridan, Buffalo and Gillette together to market northeastern Wyoming as a desirable location for relocation and business expansion.

Janet Ady, of Ady Voltedge, who has done site selector work around the state for the Wyoming Business Council, will be contracted to visit each of the three communities to determine common strengths that could be folded into a cooperative marketing strategy.

The cost of her visit and report will be split between the three cities at approximately $7,000 each. The additional $3,000 will be used to coordinate regional efforts with local efforts and market local offerings, as well.

Ady is tentatively scheduled to complete her visit June 18-20.

Buffalo Mayor Randy Dyess, Wyoming Association of Municipalities Executive Director Shelley Simonton and Kaycee/Buffalo/Johnson County Economic Development Joint Powers Board Director Dave Simonsen were present for the meeting.

“This is a great opportunity, an opportunity to show that the northeast has always worked will together,” Dyess said. “We’re all in one puddle, and it’s getting smaller.”

About

Hannah Wiest is the government and outdoors reporter for The Sheridan Press. She has lived in Colorado and Montana but loves her sunny home state of Wyoming best. She joined The Press staff in February 2013.

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