SHERIDAN — The Wyoming Business Council board of directors considered five Business Ready Community (BRC) grant and loan staff recommendations during its Dec. 7 meeting in Cheyenne.
The WBC recommended full funding of a $12,592,090 grant to the Sheridan Economic and Educational Development Authority Joint Powers Board. The entity known as Project Enterprise wants to lease an up-to-1,000-square-feet building in the Sheridan High-Tech Buisness park behind construction for the building from SEEDA. Project Enterprise is an internationally recognized brand and wants to relocate its corporate headquarters and manufacturing operations to Sheridan.
The company’s identity and specific industry remain confidential because of the proprietary nature of its plans and to avoid a significant workforce disruption because of its relocation.
The total eligible project cost is $14,875,164, of which $12,592,090 represents BRC Business Committed grant funds. SEEDA has committed $2,283,074 in local match funds, of which $322,874 is cash. The other $1,960,200 is in-kind match for Lot 1 in the Sheridan High-Tech Park. Project Enterprise will invest an estimated $2 million in relocation expenses and cover all capital investment in the building and lot over the life of the 20-year lease, which is expected to be well over $4 million.
The Business Council evaluates projects using an economic impact model. Staff estimate the 20-year life cycle of the project would generate more than $7.4 million in additional state and local taxes ($374,475 annual average); more than $164 million in direct and indirect supported payroll ($8.2 million annual average); $680 million in additional output (local GDP increase); $124 million in household spending; $198,400 in lodging tax based on an estimated 2,000 annual visitors to the new corporate facility; $20,968,052 in anticipated revenue recapture and state and local tax increases.
Project Enterprise will be responsible for rent, personal and property taxes, insurance, repairs, utilities and other operating expenses for the term of the lease. SEEDA will share some of these responsibilities. SEEDA will waive lease rates for the first four years in consideration of the company’s relocation and new equipment costs. Lease rates are contingent on the hiring of at least 50 full-time employees or the equivalency; a basic lease rate will be implemented from the beginning but could be subject to change if employment numbers fail to perform after 36 months.
Project Enterprise will have the option to purchase the building and the infrastructure from SEEDA at a price no greater than the BRC grant amount less the accumulated lease payments at the time the option is exercised.
SEEDA will recapture, through lease income and sale proceeds, the full amount of the grant. Revenue from the project will be split evenly between SEEDA and the BRC program.
The project meets several Business Council strategies including increased investment in Wyoming (corporate headquarters relocation), growth in the outdoor recreation and manufacturing industries, increased research and development, increased employment opportunities paying better than county average wages, increased tax base and increased tourism, among others.
The company plans to leverage the Sheridan area’s visibility and Wyoming’s outdoor lifestyle in its marketing efforts. Based on conversations with the company about its marketing mix and future budgets, along with what Sheridan and Wyoming spend on the promotion of outdoor recreation, Business Council staff estimate the additional value to Wyoming’s brand equity to be between $10 million to $20 million over 20 years.
Project Enterprise expects to employ 70 to 90 workers in jobs paying an average annual salary of $60,000 to $74,000 by 2023. The company will relocate its C-level executives and other senior-level talent. For business continuity, it will relocate other willing employees. The estimated number of total relocated jobs is 20. The remaining jobs (approximately 50 to 70 positions) will be hired locally.
The Business Council’s analysis anticipates an additional 50 local jobs being created in sectors ranging from fabricated metals and telecommunications to professional services and wholesale trade.
Project Enterprise will join companies such as Vacutech, Kennon Products, L&H Industrial and Emit Technologies in Sheridan’s growing manufacturing cluster. The project will increase Sheridan County’s manufacturing employment by 18 to 24 percent. Manufacturing currently represents 3 percent of total Sheridan County employment.
Additionally, the project will benefit Sheridan College College’s $1 million physical plant investment in its Machine Tooling Technology program. The program contributed to Project Enterprise’s interest in relocating to Sheridan. Representatives from Project Enterprise would work with Sheridan College to explore additional funds for workforce development and training.
Project Enterprise also boosts long-term state and local infrastructure investments in economic diversification. In 2010, the Business Council invested $2,589,913 in BRC Community Readiness grant funds in the Sheridan High-Tech Business Park. The Wyoming Department of Transportation is currently working on a multimillion-dollar Interstate 90 interchange to access the park and north Sheridan. The lot used in Project Enterprise is adjacent to Vacutech and in the shadow of the Big Horn Mountains. The building includes manufacturing space, offices space and an area for specialized product testing and demonstration.
The Business Council board is required by statute to forward BRC grant and loan recommendations to the State Loan and Investment Board (SLIB) for final approval. The SLIB is comprised of the five statewide elected officials: the governor, secretary of state, state auditor, state treasurer and state superintendent of public instruction.
The SLIB will make final decisions on BRC project requests at its 8 a.m. meeting on Jan. 18 at the Herschler Building in Room 1699 in Cheyenne.