House approves loan program bill aimed at Cody Lab

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 5, 2014 at 5:42 pm •  Published: March 5, 2014

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — The Wyoming House of Representatives on Wednesday tightened legislation to create a new procedure for granting state loans to support large economic development projects.

The House specified that the state treasurer may require the state to get an adequate security interest in funded projects and may charge borrowers a 1-percent loan origination fee.

The Wyoming Senate voted to concur with the House amendments, and the bill to create the program now heads to Gov. Matt Mead.

Sen. Hank Coe, R-Cody, sponsored the bill. As originally drafted, it was carefully tailored to steer a $24-million state loan to Lannett Co. Inc., which is considering a nearly $100 million expansion of its Cody lab.

Through amendments, Coe's bill emerged as a generic large-project loan program that he and other supporters say will allow Wyoming to entice private industry to invest in the state. Supporters said that expanding the bill would satisfy constitutional concerns about legislation to direct state funds to a single private entity.

"There was some concern about how well the state's secured," Coe said after the House vote but before the Senate voted to concur. "We've got the treasurer involved, and he's one of the five elected officials, and we really charge him with making sure we're adequately secured."

Coe said he expects Cody will apply for the money for the laboratory project. However, he said the expanded bill now meets constitutional requirements.

Coe has said that Lannett, a pharmaceutical company based in Pennsylvania, intends to decide this spring whether to go forward with an expansion of its operations in Cody. The company employs about 110 people in the production of painkillers at its lab, a number that could rise by a few hundred in coming years.

State Treasurer Mark Gordon said Wednesday that he's encouraged to see the House amendments to bring his office into the loan review process earlier. He said he understands the state Loan and Investment Board, which includes all five statewide elected officials, will set the interest rates.

Wyoming recently has stepped up its efforts to lure industry to the state. Officials for years have talked about the importance of diversifying the state's economy beyond mineral production.

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