This land north of Walmart to Honor Farm Road is proposed for a business park and housing if IDEA Inc. can purchase the land. (Ernie Over photo)
(Riverton, Wyo.) – Riverton City Councilors will learn about two Business Ready Community Grant Applications at tonight’s 7 p.m. work session at City Hall. One is from IDEA, Inc. for a a business park to be developed on surplus state land north of Walmart, and the second is for what would be Fremont County’s first data center proposed by PitchEngine, a county-based technology firm with offices in both Riverton and Lander.
The application from IDEA, Inc. proposes to purchase 302.18 acres of state land for a multi-use development including business, retail and housing. The acreage sits north of Walmart and extends to Honor Farm Road. The potential for the state to sell the land was made possible through a bill sponsored by State Senator Eli Bebout of Riverton, SF 90, that passed the 2013 State Legislature. The act authorized the sale of public lands “for their best use.” Currently, the property is being farmed by Honor Farm inmates. A portion of the property also includes the Wyoming Modeler’s Park.
The estimated cost of the project ranges from $1 to $5 million dollars, depending on a land appraisal. From $1 to $4 million is being sought from the Business Ready Communities grant program. Other funding would include a bank loan for 15 percent of the match and a loan from the WBC for any amount needed above the $1 million Community Readiness fund limit.
“There is no guarantee that IDEA, Inc. would be the successful bidder, but at least the process would allow public lands to go into private hands for development,” said Phil Christopherson, Riverton’s Economic Development Director. Christopherson noted that Riverton is basically “landlocked” with its only real potential for growth to the north. The city limits buck up against state and Wind River Reservation property in all directions. “Riverton is bursting at the seams and there is a lot of pressure to grow,” Christopherson said. He noted the construction now under way for Wyoming’s first and only Job Corps Center near the airport, development of the Moneta Divide Natural Gas project in Eastern Fremont County and three uranium projects now in various stages of development out in the Gas Hills could add about 1,115 jobs in the area. “We need to prepare for that kind of an influx,” he said.
Christopherson said IDEA, Inc. would plan the multi-use development with the city to include commercial and business areas adjacent to Highways 26/789 with housing behind that. IDEA, Inc would also work to preserve the Modeler’s Park, which is located in the middle of the acreage.
To get the land in private ownership, Christopherson said four things must happen. “The land has to be declared surplus by the state, which in this case has already been done,” he said. “The State Loan and Investment Board must review the potential sale, an appraisal of the land must be done and then a public auction would be held.”
The application on behalf of PitchEngine for a data center here “makes sense,” according to Christopherson. “We have dual fiber connectivity into and out of the city, which is a requirement of the project.”
PitchEngine CEO Jason Kintzler of Riverton said the company’s current computer servers are located at a data center out of state and they could be “brought home” if the application is successful. “We have big plans to help usher a new industry in Wyoming – one that will drive a more diverse economy statewide and provide higher paying jobs to needed workforce locally,” he said .”We’ve got a great start with 12 high caliber employees and this will provide a great platform for our mission.”
Currently, PitchEngine serves more than 45,000 brands worldwide, including many Fortune 500 companies and the Wyoming Business Council itself. PitchEngine helped WBC develop its “Declare Wyoming” initiative. PitchEngine is actually seeking two grants. One for a managed Data Center in the amount up to $2.5 million to facilitate the development of such a center locally, and one under the Business Committed Grant Program up to $1.5 million with a 10 percent match to locate and utilize a suitable building.
“PitchEngine plans to utilize the grant funds to build a high visibility technology presence in Central Wyoming that will attract and retain high level technology workers to the state,” according to the application.
The City of Riverton would act as the sponsor for the applications. A public hearing on the applications will be held next Tuesday, the 17th. Tonight’s work session is to familiarize the council with the two projects.
Other agenda items
Councilors will also discuss a fall “clean-up” day for the city, discuss weed cutting and spraying in alleys, a tag system for extra sanitation collection and a discussion on solar power opportunities.
The work session is open to the public.
Editor’s Note: County10.com is a product of PitchEngine