Energy Capital Economic Development Activities and Projects

Energy Capital Economic Development works on projects, events and activities that grow, diversify and expand our local economy.  We focus on primary type industries - those industries that bring new money from other places into our community.  The projects, activities and events on this page are some of the things that we have done and are doing to build a strong economy for our future.

Many of the projects and activities that we work on are reported in local, regional and national news.  visit our "Success Stories and News Articles" page to find the articles.


Current Projects and Activities


FUEL Business Incubator   


The FUEL Business Incubator is an Energy Capital Economic Development program that supports the development and growth of small businesses. FUEL helps entrepreneurs and small business owners including mentoring and resources.



How does FUEL help Incubator members?

  • Mentoring
  • Networking
  • Professional connections
  • Co-working space (available during business hours)
  • Conference room space (10 hours monthly by appointment)
  • 1 year of Basic membership with the Campbell County Chamber of Commerce
  • Wi-Fi access at the Enterprise Center
  • Members can also lease private offices at the Enterprise Center.

Who benefits from becoming a member of FUEL?

  • Entrepreneurs
  • Small business owners
  • Anyone with a business idea


Energy Capital Startup Challenge

The 2023 Energy Capital Startup Challenge was an incredible success.  Thirty seven entrepreneurs applied for the challenge and through a rigorous process 5 finalists were named.  These five finalists advanced to a "pitch night" competition where they all presented their businesses with the hope of receiving funding from a $50,000 seed fund.  The five finalists were:

  • Wind Turbine Blade Recycling, Cameron Anderson and Jess Anderson: Developing a company that will recycle wind turbine blades that have reached-end-of-life and produce usable materials as an alternative to landfill disposal.
  • Baldacci Guitars, Conner Baldacci: Startup manufacturer of high quality, custom electric guitars that allow guitar players and tour artists to achieve a range of sounds without having to swap out different guitars.
  • Rather Be Fishing Tackle, Ray Bergeman: Developer of a fishing device that helps attract fish and get them feeding, increasing the chances of getting bites and catching more fish during outings.
  • Ag Innovations, Shondah and Randall Otwell: Creator of a low power water rippling product that keeps stock tank water open for livestock in extreme winter temperatures to support the ranching and agriculture industries.
  • Inflatrix, Mark Thoreson: Developer of a high-tech polymer inflatable device used by dentists to make the placement of dental fillings simpler, more efficient, and more comfortable.

Several years ago, Gillette College put on Startup Weekends.  These were jam packed weekends that started Friday afternoon and concluded Sunday evening.  The weekends were led by John McGuire who was the head of the business department at the college.  Shortly before Covid John passed away and is sorely missed.  During Covid these events were suspended and now Energy Capital ED (ECED) is resurrecting the effort in partnership with IMPACT307. IMPACT307 is the University of Wyoming’s incubator network across the state.

There is quite a bit of difference between the previous startup weekends and the Startup Challenge that ECED and IPACT307 have just completed.  The primary differences are 1. The Startup Challenge is a competition that takes a couple of months to complete and 2. Cash awards for the top three finalists.  ECED has raised $50,000 for this competition and a panel of judges will award varying amounts to the top three contenders.

There were 37 applicants to the inaugural Energy Capital Startup Challenge.  The businesses were of all different types from training and education to retail and product manufacturing.  These businesses were at all stages as well – some are new concepts that are just at the idea stage, while others are in business and have their products ready to move to the next stage.  After a rigorous review by the panel of judges, nine finalists were selected to present their business to the panel of judges.  From the nine finalists there were five that were chosen to move forward to the pitch night.

Pitch night was held on Tuesday, December 12 and three winners were selected to share in the investment fund of $50,000.  Those three selected are:

  • Baldacci Guitars, Conner Baldacci
  • Wind Turbine Blade Recycling, Cameron Anderson and Jess Anderson
  • Ag Innovations, Shondah and Randall Otwell

Here is a link to the YouTube recording of the event:

This event would not have been possible without the help and support of our sponsors.  They provided the seed money for the challenge and deserve our thanks and recognition for their generous donations.


  • Campbell County
  • FUEL Business Incubator
  • Energy Capital Economic Development
  • University of Wyoming
  • Tyler Sasse
  • Chamber of Commerce
  • Komatsu
  • Pinnacle Bank
  • Powder River Construction

Our judges put in a tremendous amount of time reviewing applications, evaluating contestants, judging the event and much more.  Thank you to our panel of judges:

  • Sam Clikeman
  • Kevin Couch
  • Lance Walker
  • Toni Bell

We plan to hold the next Energy Capital Startup Challenge in Fall of 2024.  If you want to participate as a contestant, a sponsor or a judge watch future newsletters, Facebook page, LinkedIn pages for announcements.  The challenge will start planning very soon so if you want to help plan give us a call.


The Wyoming Innovation Center (WyIC)  





The Wyoming Innovation Center (WyIC) – Wyoming’s technology innovation center dedicated to developing advanced carbon products using coal and coal by-products as the primary raw material.  Project Overview: Wyoming Innovation Center -WyIC Overview

The WyIC is a research-to-commercialization facility intended to accelerate research from lab level to pre-commercialization.  Lab-level research that has proven to be potentially profitable needs to be scaled up to prove the commercialization potential.  The WyIC provides a location with facilities in place to conduct the scale-up work for Rare Earth Elements, Critical Minerals, and other high-value non-fuel coal products.

Wyoming Innovation Center






Built on 9.5 acres in the Fort Union industrial park, the WyIC provides seven pads or locations where pilot plants can be built, operated, and monitored.  A 4,000 square foot building provides office, lab, and workspace for tenants.  Utilizing the labs and workspace research and practical application of previous work can be verified, modified, and advanced to prove the commercial potential of the processes.  In addition, there is a 1,500 square foot materials handling building where incoming raw materials can sized for the processes being evaluated.

Fort Union Industrial Park has over 450 acres available for commercial manufacturing facilities when projects prove commercially viable.  At the present time Fort Union is home to Atlas Carbon, an Activated Carbon manufacturer utilizing Powder River Basin Coal as their primary raw material.  Atlas ships Activated Carbon throughout the intermountain west.






The Wyoming Innovation Center is locally owned and operated by Energy Capital Economic Development (ECED).  ECED is a not-for-profit organization that operates the facility on a break-even basis – thus reducing the cost for tenants.  Operational projects are also be used by the University of Wyoming and Gillette College to train technicians for jobs in advanced carbon processes and operation.




Current status: Construction was completed in March 2022.  First tenant took occupancy in May, 2023.  Projects include UW SER advance carbon projects and the National Engineering Technology Laboratory (NETL) Rare Earth Element project funded by the Department of Energy

The "Coal Tree" illustrates the many products that can be manufactured or produced using coal as the primary raw material.

See this Article at about Advanced Carbon Products:   Coal Seeks New Life as Carbon Fiber for Submarines

Project Mammoth

Project Mammoth is a Wyoming Business Council lead focused on Campbell County and our vast coal reserves.  This is a coal to products project that, if we are successful in bringing them to Wyoming, will provide approximately 250 jobs.  They have a high demand for coal and other Wyoming minerals for this project and could potentially use up to 5 million tons of coal per year.  The company behind this is looking at Montana and Kentucky as well as Wyoming.

Project Margarita

Project Margarita is a high tech project looking to set up shop in Wyoming.  They would have aspects of a data center and other high tech operations.  Should we be successful in attracting them to Campbell County this project has the potential to create 50 jobs.



Ongoing Projects and Activities

Business Retention and Expansion Task Force

While attracting new industries to our area is an important component of economic development, Energy Capital ED’s primary focus is working with and assisting existing local primary type businesses.  Through the Business Retention and Expansion Task Force, Energy Capital ED meets with local businesses to assess their needs, find out how they are doing and help provide an understanding of what resources are available to help them meet their goals. The task force gathers information that can assist local businesses and also provide insight to Energy Capital ED on the best companies to recruit to Campbell County. One example of the task force’s work is the successful effort to help Atlas Carbon obtain the funding for a second production line.  Atlas uses Powder River Basin Coal to manufacture Activated Carbon – the first Advanced Carbon Product being manufactured in Wyoming with Wyoming coal.

Advocacy for local industries

Energy Capital ED works closely with city, county and state government officials to minimize governmental barriers to constructive business and maximize government responsiveness to business. We also partner with the Chamber of Commerce, Gillette College, Campbell County Visitors Center, Wyoming Business Council and other groups to help create an environment where business can prosper and citizens’ needs can be more effectively met. Activities include meeting with government officials, sending letters and supporting materials to government officials and sponsoring information sessions for government and industry leaders to promote the interests of local businesses and industries.

Business and Industrial Park Task Force

The B&I Park Task force works with the city and county to identify and promote available commercial and industrial buildings and sites, both for expansion of existing local businesses and to attract new businesses to this area. Information on available sites is maintained on the Energy Capital ED web site for easy access.

Annual Meeting

Each spring, Energy Capital ED holds an Annual Meeting to report on its activities and projects for the year. The event begins with a dinner and features a keynote speaker or speakers, as well as the update from Energy Capital ED CEO Phil Christopherson. Government officials, board members, investors and other business leaders are invited.

Energy Capital Enterprise Center

The Energy Capital Enterprise Center is intended to be a business incubator to provide assistance to new businesses and those just getting started.  This building was purchased by Energy Capital Economic Development in March of 2016 utilizing a Wyoming Business Council Business Ready Community grant.  Once fully operational we will have a full time director who will provide assistance, coordinate resources, manage schedules and all other duties needed to ensure the success of the Enterprise Center.  Our goal with this facility is to help businesses that will diversify and expand our local economy.

Integrated Test Center

The next generation of low-carbon energy technology is now one small step closer to reality with the recent groundbreaking at the Dry Fork Power Station outside Gillette, Wyoming. In a few years, the Integrated Test Center (ITC) will house teams competing for millions in prize money for their solutions to carbon management.

The ITC is a model public-private partnership that will provide space for researchers to test Carbon Capture, Utilization and Sequestration (CCUS) technologies. Only the second center of its kind in the United States, the ITC alleviates typical concerns around transferring technology from the lab to a power plant since test center users and XPRIZE teams will be working with real flue gas directed from the plant to the test center.

Coal powers jobs and homes in the West, and the future of the industry may drastically improve with the development of CCUS technologies. Tri-State is proud to be a part of this landmark endeavor and will continue to share updates as the ITC nears completion.

Fort Union Industrial Park Development and Expansion

Energy Capital Economic Development is working with the owner and developer of the Fort Union Industrial Park to bring additional business and industrial “shovel ready” sites to Campbell County.  To build a healthy, viable, long-term economy, Campbell County must attract industries that sell products outside the local area to bring new money into the local economy. And to do that, a good transportation system for shipping in raw materials and shipping out goods is essential. Fort Union Industrial Park is being expanded to allow businesses to set up shop in an industrial park directly served by railroad transportation. Energy Capital ED is working with the City of Gillette to design the park to accommodate unit and/or manifest trains of various industrial commodities and to be served by BNSF Railway.




Past Projects and Activities

Vision 2040

Energy Capital Economic Development started the Vision 2040 effort in 2018 as a follow on to the Vision 2020 effort that had taken place in 1999.  Vision 2020 Final Report   The Vision 2040 effort was very successful and engaged a large part of the community.  Here is a link to the Vision 2040 Phase 1 final report: Gillette Vision 2040 Phase I Report Final

The final report has been completed and here is a link to that document: Gillette Vision 2040 Report_Final

NEW Growth Alliance

  Bringing new businesses to Northeast Wyoming (NEW) and expanding those already here is critical for the continued economic health of this region. For that reason, Energy Capital ED has partnered with the NEW Growth Alliance, which encompasses Campbell, Johnson and Sheridan counties. New Growth Alliance promotes the many advantages of doing business in our region, including strategic connections to national and international markets, a skilled and high-quality workforce, a pro-business government and economy, and an enviable quality of life with safe streets, top-ranked schools and exciting recreational opportunities.

Through a robust assessment and planning process, the NEW Growth Alliance has identified specific target industries to cultivate in our region for economic diversification and development. These target industries (target markets) include:

  • Advanced Conversion Technologies
  • Technology
  • Advanced Manufacturing
  • Logistics and Distribution
  • Lifestyle Entrepreneurs

The NEW Growth Alliance has successfully implemented a marketing plan specific to each of these industries. This concerted lead generation has resulted in a total of 134 prospects, 15 of which are categorized as “hot,” that is actively considering projects in Northeast Wyoming.  The assessment also found additional industries identified in communities within the region, further supporting industry diversification in Wyoming.

Campbell County Reception at the Legislature

Keeping the interests of Campbell County businesses in front of government officials is critical to maintaining a good business environment. To facilitate that effort, Energy Capital ED hosts a reception at the beginning of each legislative session. This event gives legislators an opportunity to visit with local government and business leaders and hear first-hand their concerns and interests.

Quarterly Breakfast

On the second Thursday of each calendar quarter, an Energy Capital ED investor sponsors a breakfast for local business and government leaders. The sponsoring organization gives an update on its business and latest activities and Energy Capital Economic Development gives an update on the local economy and its economic development activities.

Higher Education Task Force

Higher education and economic development are irrevocably linked. New and expanding businesses require an educated workforce from which to hire talent, and educational institutions need businesses willing to hire their graduates. The goal of the Higher Education Task Force is to identify the educational needs of our local businesses and community members – then find a way to bring those degrees, certificates and courses to Gillette College.  The Higher Education Task Force works to maximize that mutual value between education and economic development in Campbell County. One initiative has been to commission a market study to provide the information and analysis needed to support decisions about future educational opportunities at Gillette College. This study will support a higher education planning process that seeks a balance between the supply of educated workers and the demand for an educated workforce. One potential outcome could be to bring higher level degrees (BS, BA, Masters) to Gillette College.

The preliminary report on Phase 2 of the study was recently released.  Dr. Gilbert presented their findings which provide an interesting and informative picture of higher education needs in Campbell County.  Here is a link to a summary of the preliminary report. Higher Education Phase 2 report

The final report has been completed.  The full report is available here:  Energy Capital Higher Education Task Force Market Study - Final Report - December 4 2017  (note: this is a large file in excess of 32Mb.  It may take a while to load)

A printer friendly version of the report is here: Energy Capital Higher Education Task Force Market Study - Final Report - December 4 2017 - for printing (this is a smaller file with two slides per page)


ENDOW, Economically Needed Diversity Options for Wyoming, is more than just another legislative bill signed in March 2017. It is a road map for assessing and implementing options for diversifying the Wyoming economy. And Energy Capital ED is on the front line of implementing this in Northeast Wyoming through its affiliation with the NEW Growth Alliance, which submitted an economic assessment for this area of the state.

JCOAL Conference

The JCOAL Conference was held on September 21-22 in Gillette Wyoming.  Energy Capital ED was a sponsor and helped organize this ongoing discussion about Japan and Wyoming as a coal supplier for their energy needs.

UW Press release

Gillette News Record Article

Atlas Carbon (Project Cookie)

Energy Capital ED supported an Atlas Carbon large loan request that was needed to allow them to add a second manufacturing line, which would double their production. Atlas Carbon was an existing business that turns coal into activated carbon. The loan was approved

Gillette News Record Article

Advanced Carbon Products Conference (NEW Growth Alliance Event)

Through the New Growth Alliance, Energy Capital ED helped sponsor an Advanced Carbon Products conference in April 2017. The Conference explored and examined Advanced Carbon Products and how facilitating their development, growth and manufacture can help transform and diversity Wyoming’s economy.

Carbon is the future for coal - Gillette News Record

Rex Carbon (Project Aline)

Rex Carbon was recruited by Energy Capital ED to build an activated carbon plant in Gillette.  REX Carbon was not able to raise the capital needed or obtain the financing that they needed to build their project.  Energy Capital ED worked with REX for over a year to bring this project to fruition, but in the end they were not able to move forward with the project.

Affordable Energy Rally

Gillette News Record Article: 9-28-2014 - Affordable Energy Rally - GNR

Energy Capital ED partnered with the Campbell County Chamber of Commerce to host a rally to support Wyoming’s energy industry in September 2014. Keynote speakers included U.S. Senators Mike Enzi and John Barrasso, Wyoming Governor Matt Mead, U.S. Chamber Representative Dan Byers, and local government officials and industry representatives. The focus of the event was to raise awareness of emerging federal policies impacting affordable energy across the U.S.  One such policy was the proposed carbon emission standards for new power plants, which had the potential to impact energy costs in our area and throughout the United States. At the time of the rally, the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) was in the midst of accepting comments on those standards.

Broadband Study

Energy Capital ED partnered with the City of Gillette in 2014 to commission a broadband study. This was a strategic move to assess and promote fiber optic bandwidth development within the community. The study focused on the long-term broadband needs of this area and made recommendations to ensure that the needs are being met.  Energy Capital ED provided the $35,000 match to obtain the Wyoming Business Council Business Ready Community Grant that paid for the study.  This study has resulted in the City of Gillette working closely with private industry to improve the broadband connectivity for local business in Gillette.  The city of Gillette is currently seeking another Wyoming Business Council Business Ready Community Grant that will provided better access, updated equipment and additional services for business in the community.


High Tech Industry Conference (NEW Growth Alliance Event)

In September 2015, NEW Growth Alliance hosted a High Tech Industry Conference at Gillette College. Speakers included business leaders, a visionary and a state senator discussing their take on how technology affects businesses. Approximately 60 elected officials, investors and citizens attended the conference.


Pre-Hire training for oil field workers

In 2014, Energy Capital ED began working with the Department of Workforce Services and Gillette College to develop a program to provide training to potential oilfield workers.  The courses were designed and provided by Gillette College with the assistance of several oilfield service companies.


Alpha Coal Assistance in recruiting workers

Alpha Coal laid off 1,100 workers in West Virginia in 2014, but the company needed more people to staff its local sites. Energy Capital ED helped Alpha Coal recruit those trained West Virginia coal miners to Gillette by creating a recruitment package touting the advantages of moving to Wyoming.


Wyoming Business Council Business Leads

Energy Capital ED actively follows up on leads provided the Wyoming Business Council. These leads identify new or existing businesses looking for locations for their plants or offices. Energy Capital ED submits proposals to acquaint these businesses with the advantages of locating in Campbell County.


Project Gefion:

This project is an Advanced Carbon Products project that proposes converting coal into advanced carbon products.  We have a Non-Disclosure agreement in place with this business and cannot release any additional information


Project Halen:

This project is an Advanced Carbon Products project that proposes converting coal into advanced carbon products.  We have a Non-Disclosure agreement in place with this business and cannot release any additional information


Project Onkord:

This project is an Advanced Carbon Products project that proposes converting coal into advanced carbon products.  We have a Non-Disclosure agreement in place with this business and cannot release any additional information


Project Samba:

This project is an Advanced Carbon Products project that proposes converting coal into advanced carbon products.  We have a Non-Disclosure agreement in place with this business and cannot release any additional information


 Clean Coal Technologies (Project Vanderbilt)

Clean Coal Technologies, Inc., a cleaner-energy technology company with headquarters in New York City, NY, holds patented process technology and other intellectual property that converts raw coal into a cleaner burning fuel. The Company’s trademarked end products, “PristineTM” coals, are significantly more efficient, less polluting, more cost-effective, and provide more heat than untreated coal. The principal elements of the Company’s pre-combustion technology are based on well-proven science and tried-and-tested industrial components. The Company’s clean coal technology may reduce some 90% of chemical pollutants from coal, including Sulfur and Mercury, thereby resolving emissions issues affecting coal-fired power plants. For more information about Clean Coal Technologies, please visit

Here is a link to the Wyoming Business Report article announcing Clean Coal Technologies plans for a plant in North East Wyoming. WBR Article: Clean Coal to build plant in Northeastern Wyoming

Company partners with UW to pursue clean-coal technology - Press Release



Where we get our project names: We use an internet based project name generator - here is a link:  Project name generator