For now, the City of Torrington will remain a one feed mill town.
On Oct. 7, the Wyoming Office of State Lands and Investments voted against the city’s asking for a $6 million in Business Ready Community (BRC) grant and loan to construct a mill, warehouse, and retail store for M Lazy Heart.
The city planned to lease the building to M Lazy Heart, with the latter intending to purchase. The mill was slated for 12 acres in the city-owned Eastside Industrial Park. The Wyoming Business Council Board of Directors had approved the $6 million BRC on Sept. 30. In Wyoming, the State Lands and Investments Board has to give final approval before using any funds.
One of the deciding factors for Curt Meier, Wyoming treasurer, and board member, is Torrington already has a mill, Z&W Mill.
“This particular project had a conflict between retaining a current business and developing a new business,” he said. “The answer really to that is to have an understanding between the current feed mill there and the proposed future feed mill, where the impact associated with the new mega mill will not put a smaller business that has existed for over 80 years out of business.”
The board agreed on investing in economic development. Still, Ed Buchanan, Wyo. secretary of state and chair of the board, said economic development is a good thing but is the new mill a public good.
“When we look at this, we look at it, and you say well you’ve got tax revenue. That could be good for the City of Torrington that will be recycled and used for economic development. So is that a good public purpose,” said Buchanan.
The board discussed the new mill could hire ten or more people, but the community could lose the other mill and those jobs. They also discussed the fact that the new mill might hire away the old mill’s staff.
Buchanan also noted there wouldn’t be much sales tax made off the feed sales. He returned to serving the public good, and he didn’t see the mill tipping the scales to that end.
Buchanan and Meier, along with Jillian Balow Wyo. superintendent of public instruction, all voted against the BRC loan and grant. Wyo. Auditor Kristi Racines was the only vote for, as Governor Mark Gordon abstained from voting because of a conflict of interest.