SWEETWATER COUNTY — East of Rock Springs, land along the Middle Baxter Road adjacent to the Southwest Wyoming Regional Airport is slated for development into an industrial zone.
The city of Rock Springs, city of Green River and Sweetwater County have entered into an agreement to fund and create the Sweetwater County Industrial Development Plan Project.
The Sweetwater County Commission approved the agreement unanimously Tuesday morning.
The county is sponsoring the project and working on submitting a 2018 Business Ready Community Planning Grant application. The application deadline is Dec. 1 and will likely be reviewed by the Wyoming Business Council in March, Grants Manager Krisena Marchal explained.
The goal of the project is to draft a comprehensive plan to recruit and develop industry to further economic growth and stability for the community.
Both cities and the county have established a committee and met on a regular basis for about a year and a half discussing the Industrial Development Plan Project, according to Mark Westenskow, Green River director of public works.
Revenue decreases in 2016 and statewide interest in building an industrial megaplex inspired the project. After evaluating 10 possible locations and settling in the Airport-Middle Baxter area, a group of University of Wyoming College of Business graduate students studied the socioeconomic benefits of the site and published a report recommending professional services for the development of the location, according to Marchal’s executive summary.
The estimated budget for the project is $150,000, and the planning grant would provide $50,000, 33 percent of the cost. The local match would be 67 percent totaling $100,000 split equally between the three entities at $33,333 each.
Marchal told the commissioners the planning cost estimate is so high because it includes a detailed marketing analysis of industries to recruit and a strategy for infrastructure development.
The Green River City Council approved the memorandum of understanding for the project Monday night, but Councilman Robert Berg was hesitant to support the motion. He expressed his desire to move forward with the MOU but not promise the funds to the county should the county receive the grant. He said he would first like to explore areas in Green River that could potentially use the money.
Councilman Gary Killpack was concerned about the cost division for the agreement. The infrastructure work to construct the industrial zone would cost anywhere from $20 million to $30 million.
Green River City Administrator Reed Clevenger said it would be impossible for Green River to contribute an equal share of the cost for the construction phase of the project. However, he added the city can commit to the equally split cost of the planning phase.
Councilman Allan Wilson said he feels the equal cost portion is fair for the grant application process because it makes the statement that all three governments are equally willing to see the project completed.
The Rock Springs City Council unanimously approved the agreement Tuesday night.
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