Our Wyoming Innovation Center (WyIC) project is making great strides to diversify and grow our economy. We may see real results with commercial plants opening within the next five years. This past week the ECED Board of Directors selected a logo for the facility. The emphasis is on “Innovation” and is a good reflection of the true goals and aims of the facility. The idea for the Wyoming Innovation Center emerged several years ago.
Between 2014 and 2016, Campbell County was visited by many different businesses looking for a place to develop coal-to-product ideas. At the time, we were able to show them bare ground, but nothing that was set up to advance their projects. From those visits, we developed the idea that we should have a location that would take their research from the lab level to the pilot plant, then commercialization. We worked very closely with the University of Wyoming School of Energy Resources to plan and develop the idea that ultimately resulted in our current efforts. It took several years to acquire the funding through the Wyoming Business Council and the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration. Ultimately, we succeeded and moved forward with the project. We purchased the land in November of 2019, started the design earlier this year and expect the project to start bidding in mid-January of 2021. Construction should be complete in the third quarter of 2021 with the first tenants moving in as soon as the construction is complete.
This project is a good example of how economic development projects come into being. A concept is developed, explored, and investigated. If the project makes sense and is supported by community leaders, a plan is developed, funding is sought after and, if successful, the project moves forward. Many projects get stopped somewhere along the line and only a few rise to the level of a successfully completed project. Acquiring funding can take, as in the case of Wyoming Innovation Center, several years to obtain. From concept to where we are today, leaders at ECED, City of Gillette, Campbell County, UW SER and others have invested more than five years of effort.
I could name several other projects that were just as involved, took just as much time and effort yet ultimately did not come to pass. Regardless, we keep working and trying and are very happy with the successes that we have. Thank you for your support for our efforts. If you would like to discuss this, or any of our projects please give us a call and we will be happy to meet and go over our successes and not so successful projects.