The Wyoming State Loan and Investment Board awarded the additional grant money that will be used along with a $450,000 Business Committed Grant that was approved last January. Gluten Free Oats requested the additional funds last fall after original …
Gluten-free oats grown in local fields, processed in a Powell facility and marketed by a hometown business are destined for Europe, Australia and across the United States. Gluten Free Oats, a local business with a global market, will expand its Powell operations with a new facility to process and clean oats, thanks to an additional $267,795 grant approved Thursday.
The Wyoming State Loan and Investment Board awarded the additional grant money that will be used along with a $450,000 Business Committed Grant that was approved last January. Gluten Free Oats requested the additional funds last fall after original bids came in about 25 percent higher than an engineer estimated would be needed to construct the 2,880-square-foot building.
The additional state funding will allow Gluten Free Oats to clean, roll and package its oats at the new facility in east Powell. Currently, raw oats are shipped to Idaho for processing. With the new building, the process will remain local from the field to the delivery truck.
“My main focus is to spend every dollar I can in the state of Wyoming,” said Seaton Smith, who owns Gluten Free Oats with his family.
The business first began as a high school Future Farmers of America project by Smith’s son, Forrest, and has now expanded internationally.
“The European market is very, very strong for gluten free right now,” Smith said.
Gluten Free Oats’ broad market benefits the local economy, Smith said.
“The majority of dollars I create will be out-of-state dollars,” Smith said. “We’re not turning another Wyoming dollar — we’re bringing in the dollar from another state or another country. A brand-new dollar is worth much more than a Wyoming dollar in revenue impact to the state.”
Smith also is utilizing local farmers, who grow the gluten-free oats in area fields.
The current low-bidder for construction of the project is a Powell business, Smith said. The Powell City Council is slated to consider the bids at its Feb. 7 meeting.
After the bid is awarded, Smith said construction will start once the ground thaws this spring. Construction will take about four months, and then Smith will begin putting the mill equipment in the building. Smith said he hopes the mill will be ready to process raw oats later this summer.
The additional grant funding requires a 10-percent match, amounting to $29,755. That match will be met with in-kind work, such as engineering, Smith said.
With the city of Powell serving as a sponsor for both grants, the Gluten Free Oats project will provide an estimated $758,701 back to the city for future economic development projects, if the entire grant sum is spent.
Last year, the city agreed to sponsor a $450,000 grant for Gluten Free Oats through the Wyoming Business Council. City leaders also provided $108,000 toward the project — including $50,000 for the required grant match and $58,000 toward the land purchase — through the city’s economic-development fund.
The city of Powell will own the land and facility, leasing it to Gluten Free Oats until the business completes its payments.
Under the original funding model approved last year, Gluten Free Oats will pay the entire sum of the city’s economic-development loan and the state grant back to the city, with a return of about $491,339 to the city. (That number factors in $480,000 in equity and a 4-percent interest revenue from the $108,000 city investment.)
The additional state funds approved last week for Gluten Free Oats means additional money for the city of Powell — about $267,362.
Under the new funding model, the city will lease the facility to Gluten Free Oats at $1,988 per month for the first five years and $1,994 per month for the next 30 years.
With the estimated $758,701 in revenue recaptured from Gluten Free Oats’ payments, the city will place 75 percent in a revolving loan fund and 25 percent for special community projects, such as necessary infrastructure, park development and projects identified by community interest groups.