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Allstate Ensures Cheyenne’s Growth
In December, Allstate opened an office in Cheyenne, WY to expand and improve its insurance claims service to customers. The Allstate Express office has brought 200 new entry level jobs and 94 indirect jobs into the community, with a total of $5.2 million in direct payroll. Over the next five years, the business activity will contribute $672,000 in local taxes, and $686,000 in state taxes to Wyoming, according to estimates. The total long-term impact on the community is estimated at $97 million.
“Allstate could have located this facility anywhere in the nation,” says Tom Thorson, vice president of Cheyenne LEADS. Cheyenne was one of many cities evaluated for the Allstate Express office and was ultimately chosen based on several criteria including cost of living, availability of talent, and the ability to maintain operations during severe weather occurring in other parts of the country. Thorson expects Allstate to employ most of the city’s available customer service workforce.
Allstate began retrofitting 28,000 square feet of an existing building in March 2007. Hiring began in September, and training followed in October with excellent results. Allstate already has more people applying than the company needs to keep its training classes full.
A $400,000 Workforce Development Training Fund Grant from the state of Wyoming and the Department of Workforce Services’ training programs also factored into Allstate’s decision to locate its facility in Cheyenne.
Nortrack on the Right Track in Cheyenne
Last summer, VAE Nortrak North America Inc. purchased two buildings from the city of Cheyenne. Nortrak will use one building to expand its manufacturing of pre-stress concrete switch ties for the railroad industry, an investment of nearly $4.7 million. Nortrak had leased the second building since 2000.
After remodeling and renovating, the plant became fully operational in late 2007. Most of the equipment required for the new facility was custom-built, with many components imported from Europe.
Nortrak has hired 20 new employees and anticipates acquiring an additional 50-60 workers within three years. The company currently employs more than 120 people in Cheyenne.
Including its newest facility, Nortrak now utilizes 158,000 square feet of manufacturing space on a 28-acre site in Wyoming’s capital.
New Technology Creates Clean Water in Buffalo
In February, RG Global Lifestyles completed construction on its first water treatment plant in the Powder River Basin near Buffalo, WY. The facility is the company’s first to utilize the Catalyx Fluid Solutions ion exchange technology to treat water discharged during the harvesting of coal bed methane (CBM). The treated water will be safe for irrigation and wildlife with no hazardous byproducts.
“Our sodium removal capability and low cost could be critical factors in restarting the CBM operations idled in multiple states due to environmental reasons,” says RG Global Chief Technology Officer Juzer Jangbarwala.
Existing technologies have been unable to cost effectively treat water to meet Wyoming’s stringent discharge standards, resulting in the shutdown of several wells and drilling operations. However, Catalyx is negotiating with multiple companies for additional applications of its ion exchange technology, which has the potential for new industry growth and job creation.
Oil Refinery’s New Frontier
In January, Frontier Refining Inc. broke ground at the site of its new $15 million, 25,000-square-foot administration building in Cheyenne, WY. The office will provide a modern working environment for about 120 employees of Frontier’s existing oil refinery on the south side of Cheyenne.
The refinery, with a 52,000-barrel capacity, is in the final stages of a $100 million reconstruction of its coking plant. A comparable amount will be spent on environmental and safety programs, new boilers and air compressors, and upgrades to the piping system, according to Mike Milam, Frontier’s vice president and plant manager. Milam also explains that the administration building is on a fast-track construction schedule and he projects it will be completed by the end of the year.
The surrounding environment was considered during the project’s planning stage, as the new building will have a brick facade designed to match and complement Cheyenne’s downtown architecture.
Rather than demolishing them, Frontier moved four homes from the building site to a new location where they were donated to a low-income housing development.
Two Power Companies Follow the Wind
Rocky Mountain Power plans to begin operating its 66-turbine wind farm, located 12 miles north of Glenrock, WY, by October. Situated on 14,000 acres of company-owned land, the wind farm will generate 99 megawatts of renewable energy, enough electricity to power nearly 30,000 homes.
Rocky Mountain Power President Richard Walje believes that the wind farm, built on the site of a coal mine used from 1958 until 2000, will add “new cost-effective renewable energy to our electrical system and achieve a more balanced mix of resources used to generate electricity.”
Tasco Engineering, the firm that designed and built transmission lines connected to Rocky Mountain Power’s distribution system, announced plans for a smaller wind farm, located 20 miles east of Evanston, WY. Set on six square miles of land near Interstate 80, Tasco’s 29-turbine project aims to begin generating electricity by the spring.
Tasco employed 100 people during construction and will need 20 permanent workers to operate the wind farm after all production phases are completed. “Those are good-paying jobs,” says Gary Tassainer, president of Tasco. “We’re talking $40K and up.”