Bright Agrotech, a Laramie-based manufacturer and installer of indoor farming equipment, is trying to expand its operation into a new headquarters. A proposed application to the Wyoming Business Council for a Business Ready Grant supporting construction of a headquarters was presented to the Laramie City Council on Tuesday to a positive reception from councilors.
Though Bright Agrotech is “one of the fastest-growing” agricultural technology companies and has “significant revenues growing at a very steady rate,” CEO Nate Storey said the company faces challenges as a growing small business.
“One of the challenges and the reason we’re (at council) is we are walking a very fine line as a small business,” Storey said. “We make more every month, but we spend more every month.”
The company, Storey said, hopes to make new hires and sees University of Wyoming graduates as a “huge asset.” Storey, a UW graduate, said graduates from UW are “looking for an excuse to stay” in Laramie, and that Bright Agrotech could provide that opportunity. Having a stronger industrial technology base in the state would “fight brain drain,” he said.
“We’ve done a poor job at keeping gifted, talented people from fleeing the state,” Storey said. “What we offer is the ability to give those people something to do.”
There are 16 employees at the company, including part-time employees, said co-owner Chris Michael. Even though this doubles the amount the company employed a year ago, Michael said it is not enough to keep up with the company’s growth. Assistance from partnerships with the Laramie Chamber Business Alliance and Wyoming Business Council in building the headquarters would allow the company to focus on hiring and innovating technology, Michael said.
“We’ve been fortunate to find and hire over a dozen incredibly talented employees, the overwhelming majority of which are UW grads,” Michael said. “Our unprecedented business growth is directly tied to our ability to grow our team and our intent is to continue pouring our revenues back into hiring more exceptional people.”
With an international presence, Bright Agrotech has grown annual revenue and plans to employ 75-100 workers with an estimated aggregate payroll of $6 million-$10 million dollars annually, according to the proposed application.
The company is “one of our great stories in this community,” said Dan Furphy, president and CEO of the Laramie Chamber Business Alliance.
Councilor Andi Summerville said she was “excited about every aspect of the project.”
The LCBA owned land on the north side of the Welldog building in Laramie Rivers Business Part one, and worked with Bright Agro Tech on a lease agreement for the property, Furphy said.
“Nate (Storey) approached us about six-seven months ago and said, ‘I need a building now, this location still works for us, so let’s work on plans for developing a building,’” Furphy said. “Okay, start putting your plans together as to what you need. We will approach city council and Wyoming business council to get a building for you.”
A public hearing for the application would likely take place in late August, with the application potentially submitted in September, said City Manager Janine Jordan. The grant application would require council’s adoption and resolution for submission.
A final decision from the State Loan and Investment board could come in January, Jordan said.