$3 million sought for Eleutian move

Posted 11/27/09

On Tuesday, Cody officials celebrated the planned relocation of the formerly Ten Sleep-based company, which provides English instruction to Asian students via Internet video conferencing.

“Today is an especially great day in Cody,” …

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$3 million sought for Eleutian move


City of Cody, Forward Cody, ask for state money to build Eleutian headquarters Eleutian Technology and Cody officials formally unveiled plans to relocate the tech company to a new, $3.73-million facility in Cody at a Tuesday press conference.With $3 million of state aid sought by the City of Cody, the support of the economic development group Forward Cody and contributions from Eleutian, the plan is to construct a 10,000 square foot building on property between Big Horn and Cougar avenues near Cody Middle School. The facility would be leased to Eleutian Technology.

On Tuesday, Cody officials celebrated the planned relocation of the formerly Ten Sleep-based company, which provides English instruction to Asian students via Internet video conferencing.

“Today is an especially great day in Cody,” said Cody Mayor Nancy Tia Brown.

Eleutian Technology general counsel Brian Holiday praised the work of Forward Cody, which heavily recruited the company to the city.

“If it weren't for Forward Cody, Eleutian would still be looking for a home,” Holiday said.

He said the company appreciated Cody's airport access and the general support of the community.

Plans call for a single-level building containing executive offices, conference space and a teaching center. The total project is estimated to cost some $3.73 million, which includes the acquisition of the four acres of land, landscaping, engineering, furnishings and relocation costs.

The bulk of that sum, just less than $3 million, would come from a Wyoming Business Council Business Committed Grant. The city of Cody intends to sponsor that grant.

The Cody City Council has scheduled a public hearing on the grant application for Monday, Nov. 30 at noon.

Eleutian is paying the up-front engineering costs for the facility, and will furnish and equip the building. Their contribution to the total project cost is projected at $407,500. Forward Cody, which finalized the purchase of the four-acre site from current owner Groathouse Construction, would contribute around $325,000 of support.

Forward Cody would own the site and building and lease it to Eleutian for $7 a square foot — $70,000 a year.

Eleutian would be responsible for utilities, upkeep and maintenance, and ultimately have the option to purchase the facility.

If approved by the business council, the schedule would call for groundbreaking next summer and building completion by June 2011, said James Klessens, Forward Cody's executive director.

In the interim, Holiday said the company will be looking for temporary quarters — perhaps taking Park County commissioners up on an earlier offer to lease the company additional space in the Park County Complex.

Eleutian plans to relocate 10 of its employees to Cody by January. Another 10 employees are slated to arrive in town by August 2010.

The company has guaranteed that those 20 positions — paying an average wage of $50,000 — will be in place when the new facility opens. Eleutian projects that it will add another 10 jobs each of the following two years — reaching a total of 40 new Cody jobs within three years.

Doug Weedin, president of Forward Cody, called the pending relocation one of the most successful development efforts for the city “over the past couple decades.”

He estimated that the initial 20 employees would generate $2.5 to $6 million worth of economic impact for Cody, with 40 workers potentially doubling that impact.

Eleutian Technology was founded in Ten Sleep, but Holiday said that as it has grown, the company has struggled to find room to expand.

“When you're a business, being stagnant isn't an option,” he said. “There wasn't housing space in Ten Sleep; there wasn't office space in Ten Sleep.”

Eleutian had looked to build its new headquarters on property in the 315-member community, but attempts to secure a state grant for the building's construction there were unsuccessful. The town of Ten Sleep declined to sponsor a grant on the company's behalf, and an attempt to submit a grant with Washakie County was withdrawn by Eleutian after the business council asked the company to drill and test a water well on the site.

Holiday has said the well would have cost the company upwards of $150,000.

When asked what would happen if things didn't work out with the business council grant in Cody, Holiday said he did not know.

“There isn't a plan B,” he said, adding, “Employees are moving here as of January.”

Holiday said Eleutian plans to maintain a presence in Ten Sleep, including retaining English teachers there.

“Ten Sleep's been a fabulous community that's near to Eleutian's heart,” said Holiday.

The company currently operates a center in Cody, housed in the Park County Complex. Holiday said Eleutian plans to eventually move all of its Cody operations to the headquarters building, which will have teaching space.

Holiday said a couple Eleutian employees in the company's Powell office would likely end up commuting to Cody to take on corporate roles, but in general, he said the move to Cody “won't mean many changes in Powell.”

(Editor's note: This version of the story corrects the headline and article to specify that it is the City of Cody, not Eleutian Technology, submitting the grant.)