$5.4 Mil Cirrus Sky Technology Park Grant Moves Forward
The Wyoming Business Council Board of Directors is recommending the City of Laramie receive a $5.4 million grant to create the Cirrus Sky Technology Park. The Board met in Laramie on Thursday after touring Laramie and the 149 acre site on Wednesday.
The Business Ready Community (BRC) grant Laramie applied for is the biggest one the Business Council has ever received. BRC grants are capped at $3 mil and an exception has to be made in order for Laramie to receive the full requested amount. The conference room at the Holiday Inn was full of community members and legislators who believe the Cirrus Sky Technology Park is unique enough to deserve such an exception, but the Board needed to be convinced.
Business Council Staff recommended that Laramie receive a $4 mil grant to be paired with a $1.4 mil loan which would be paid back in 20 years at a 1 percent interest rate.
"We had already pared down everything we possibly could to make the deal work," Gaye Stockman, CEO of the Laramie Economic Development Corporation, told KOWB. "We just knew that the additional loan component was really going to cause some extra burden on the project to where it couldn't be put to fruition as soon as we wanted it to be."
Laramie City Manager Janine Jordan told the Board that because Laramie is in the middle of an $80 million dollar infrastructure project, the city is already close to the debt limit they are legally allowed. Jordan said the city would likely have to use the more than $300,000 they would get from selling 23 acres to the University of Wyoming to pay down debt, instead of putting it back into the project, which would slow the process down.
LEDC Board President Megan Goetz told those present of the multiple missed opportunities Laramie has experienced over the last few years because businesses were specifically looking for a "shovel ready" site where they could quickly start construction. She also mentioned the 60 tech-based businesses already in Laramie and how Cirrus Sky would not only be serving new businesses but also helping the existing ones.
"What I think really cinched the deal was when our elected officials, Senator (Phil) Nicholas, Senator (Chris) Rothfuss and Representative (Kermit) Brown, stepped up and talked about other like-business investments that had been made around the state for other communities and how it made such a difference in those communities so they could step up and be more self-sustaining," Stockman told KOWB. "While it was not a unanimous vote, the recommendation to go before the State Loan and Investment Board is for the full $5.4 million grant."
The grant application now moves to the State Loan and Investment Board for a final decision to be made on January 17, 2013. Jordan says that if the grant is approved that the city would purchase the land as soon as the monies are available.
In addition to the purchase of the site, the funds would be used for the construction of approximately 1.5 miles of new road and existing toad extension, water, sewer, data fiber conduit and underground utilities. The Cirrus Sky Technology Park is a joint project of the City of Laramie and the Laramie Economic Development Corporation.