Doug Weedin, Forward Cody's vice chairman and president of Pinnacle Bank, told commissioners that the piece of property, located on the east side of the complex grounds near 16th Street, was the main reason Eleutian was considering Cody for its new …
Seeking to entice Eleutian Technology to move its headquarters to Cody, Park County Commissioners voted on Tuesday to lease the company as much as an entire floor of the Park County Complex. Whether that will be enough remains to be seen.The Ten Sleep-based company, which provides English-language instruction to Asian students via Internet video conferencing, is growing, and it's expanding its corporate headquarters. However, Eleutian's plans to build a new facility in Ten Sleep have hit snags, leading the company to look to other communities.The economic development group Forward Cody has been gathering support to recruit Eleutian to Cody.On Tuesday, representatives from the group asked county commissioners to make a 1.6-acre parcel of land at the Park County Complex available to Eleutian for the construction of new headquarters.
Doug Weedin, Forward Cody's vice chairman and president of Pinnacle Bank, told commissioners that the piece of property, located on the east side of the complex grounds near 16th Street, was the main reason Eleutian was considering Cody for its new home.
“This really has been their attraction to Cody,” Weedin said.
The commission was unanimous in its support for Eleutian's relocation and offering increased office space inside the complex, but appeared unlikely to allow Eleutian to construct a new facility on the complex property. The county already leases a lesser amount of complex space to Eleutian for its Cody office.
Weedin said Eleutian's headquarter relocation would bring in 40 new jobs and $2 million in payroll, saying it would be perhaps the biggest event in decades in Cody's economic development.
If the company came to town, the currently-vacant complex parcel would house a 14,000 square foot, two-story building. The facility would be constructed using grant money from the Wyoming Business Council, and Eleutian would lease the building at roughly $112,000 a year.
After three years, Eleutian Technology would have the option to purchase the building and land at fair market value — minus the annual lease payments.
However, Weedin said Eleutian would prefer not to own the building and would rather sign a long-term lease.
Commissioner Jill Shockley Siggins said if that was the case, there was little reason to construct a new facility and “tie up public property.”
“So many people look at that complex, and they like it whole,” she said. “That's what I've heard.”
If the county were to sell the property, Siggins said she'd prefer it be available to anyone.
“There could be other people that would pay the market value,” she said.
Siggins suggested that, instead, the county lease more space to Eleutian in the top floor of the county complex.
“It would accommodate major redesign,” added Commissioner Dave Burke. “There is substantial square footage up there (around 35,000 square feet) — far more than they're requesting at the present time.”
“I don't see how they couldn't like the third floor,” said Commissioner Tim French.
However, Weedin said Eleutian likely will see a difference between a building of their own and leasing a floor. A separate building he said, “creates an (unique) identity when they're competing out in the real world.”
“Our goal is to find a home for Eleutian. Do we care where it's at? No,” said Weedin. But he added that it was unlikely they'll be as enthused about leasing the top floor or any of the other properties Forward Cody has identified as possibilities.
“We're asking you to accept the proposal and move forward,” Weedin said.
Commissioners declined to vote on the prospect of developing the 1.6-acre parcel.
Instead, Burke made a motion to agree in principal to lease Eleutian 14,000 square feet or more on the third floor. “That would at least give you something to go to and say the commissioners are serious,” Burke told Forward Cody's representatives.
His motion passed unanimously.
Commissioner Bucky Hall said he would not be opposed to selling the piece of property and getting it “back on the tax rolls.” He made a motion to ask the county attorney to investigate what legal options the commissioners would have in selling the property.
“This doesn't bind us,” Hall said. “I think we need to get all the information.”
The measure passed 3-1, with Burke voting no.
“I see no reason to move forward at this point,” he said later.
Commission Chairman Bill Brewer later said he felt offering the third floor was a “pretty good gesture.” Hall said it would give Forward Cody another “tool.”
“I think if they (Eleutian) are really interested in coming to Cody, I think it's appropriate for them to come back to us,” said Siggins.
More than a dozen community leaders and city officials, such as Northwest College President Paul Prestwich and Cody Mayor Nancy Tia Brown, attended the meeting, in what Weedin said was a show of support for Eleutian's recruitment. Brown was the only one to speak, thanking commissioners for “opening the door” to the prospect of Eleutian coming to town. She said the Cody City Council was committed to “doing whatever we can to bring them to our city.”
A call to Eleutian Technology seeking comment was not returned as of press time.