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Cody medication manufacturer seeks to expand

There’s a good opportunity to add scores of jobs to a Cody pharmaceutical manufacturer, but it will take a great amount of support and assistance from the state of Wyoming to make it happen, a local economic development leader says.

On Tuesday, Forward Cody CEO James Klessens unveiled an ambitious plan to help Cody Laboratories build a new, $102 million complex on Road 2AB in northern Cody that would make medication components and employ an additional 100 people.

If all goes according to plan — a plan that includes the state of Wyoming giving the lab a $3 million grant and a $21.4 million low-interest loan — the facility would be up and running in a little more than four years.

“It’s not a done deal, and we’re not going to put on any pretense that this going to happen no matter what,” said Klessens, saying community support will be key.

In separate pitches to the Park County Commission and the Cody City Council, Klessens said the annual economic impacts of the company’s expansion would represent hundreds of millions of dollars and spread well beyond Cody, Park County and the state of Wyoming.

“This is going to radically change the way the world views manufacturing of pharmaceuticals in the country — that we can do it in the West,” he told the council.

“This is one of the most exciting opportunities that we’ve seen in this part of the country in some time,” Shawn Warner, board chairman for Forward Cody, told county commissioners. He noted the company doesn’t compete with other regional businesses and has the potential for large-scale growth.

Both the commission and the council unanimously agreed to issue letters of support for the project.

“Very impressive,” said Commissioner Joe Tilden. “Wow. Quite the project,” said Commissioner Tim French. “What a great opportunity,” said Cody City Councilman Brian Edwards.

“Harkens to days, probably 30 years ago, when we had a good, stable economy in Cody thanks to Husky Oil,” said an excited Cody Mayor Nancy Tia Brown.

Cody Labs currently has 110 employees and plans to add another 16 workers in about a year, when it builds a new 11,000 square foot warehouse on the Road 2AB property. The $3.65 million warehouse, which received $2.5 million as a kind of state loan, already has its funding in place. Original plans called for the warehouse to be twice as large and located near Cody Labs’ existing facility on West Yellowstone Avenue. William Schreck, the COO of Lannett Company, which owns Cody Labs, has said it picked a new site for economic reasons and because of “unwarranted” community concern stemming from “false allegations” raised by Cody Labs founder Ric Asherman in an April lawsuit.

The manufacturing facilities on Road 2AB for which Forward Cody and Cody Labs are now seeking funding would create an additional 100 jobs, Klessens said, and leave space for additional expansion.

“Since we started discussions ... about this opportunity, it turned out to be a better and better opportunity for everybody involved,” Cody Labs Vice President Bernhard Opitz told the Cody council.

Opitz said the 2AB site, near the CertainTeed Gypsum mine, is a good one for an active pharmaceutical ingredient company like Cody Labs to grow, prosper and develop over the next 50 or 100 years.

“That’s all that we need to show to Lannett and also show that the state of Wyoming and ... the people of Cody want such a development to happen,” Opitz told the commission. He said companies today are wary of making a large commitment without knowing they have support; Opitz said the requested appropriation from the state would be a strong signal to Lannett that the Cody location is the right one.

“This is something that’s not just going to happen. It’s just not going to fall out of the sky,” Klessens told the council. Philadelphia-based Lannett “is not in a position where they could or we should be expecting to do this themselves,” Klessens said. “We need to do what we can do as a community to help make this happen.”

He said that will include lobbying state officials and lawmakers to support the $24.4 million appropriation to Cody Labs during the Legislature’s upcoming budget session.

Brown, Klessens, Park County Commission Chairman Loren Grosskopf, Arthur Bedrosian — Lannett Company’s CEO — and others traveled to Cheyenne today (Thursday) to lobby Gov. Matt Mead, Secretary of State Max Maxfield, Auditor Cynthia Cloud, Treasurer Mark Gordon and the Wyoming Business Council on the proposal.

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2 comments

  • posted by Len

    December 21, 2013 7:01 am

    Klessens did a bang up job on this project: Two Rivers Detention Facility in Hardin, Montana.

    Let's get behind the Cody Labs project all the way! Wait!? Shouldn't Cody Labs, a private entity, fork out their own money?

  • posted by Bruce Morse, Regional Director, Wyoming SBDC

    December 19, 2013 10:00 am

    If this project comes together, Powell, as well as Cody and other parts of Park and Big Horn counties will benefit. Some of the new employees will undoubtedly choose to live in Powell or in the county between the two communities. Schools will see some increased enrollment, support businesses will be needed, existing businesses stand to see new customers if they work to attract them, and the tax base for the county will increase. Based on the proposed funding structure, the company will repay all the funds over time, even the grant. I wholeheartedly support this project.

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