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Natural Resources & Energy

Campbell County Edges Closer To Building Carbon Products Testing Center

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The U.S. Department of Commerce has awarded a Campbell County organization a grant aimed at diversifying the economy.

The Economic Development Administration's $1.46 million grant will go towards planning and construction of the Advanced Carbon Products Innovation Center in Gillette.

The goal of the center is to help groups develop carbon-based products and test whether the products could be successful commercially.

Phil Christopherson is the CEO of Energy Capital Economic Development, the group that will run the center. He said a similar grant from the Wyoming Business Council matches the federal funds. That grant was recently approved after the WBC extended the timeline on the grant pending the resolution of some legal questions.

Campbell County and the city of Gillette have also promised to support the center.

The project now has more than $3 million to get started. The first step is to purchase the land. Christopherson said they've had a purchase agreement with the landowner for about three years.

"That'll probably take place before the end of October. Concurrently with that, we will be putting out to bid for a design firm to design the facility and then we hope to put the project out to bid in February or March of 2020," he said.

The planned site is 9.5 acres in the Fort Union Industrial Park just north of Gillette, and it will have space for offices and product development, Christopherson said.

He said they want to begin construction in the spring and hope to complete it by this time next year.

The Advanced Carbon Products Innovation Center is part of an area goal to use its natural resources in new ways with the hope to sustain Campbell County's economy.

"This is part of the overall process to diversify Gillette and Campbell County's economy, to better support our local people to provide more jobs and to ensure we have a great future for our children and our children's children," Christopherson said.

Christopherson estimated the center will create about 40 jobs and $15 million in private investment.

The grant is funded through the Assistance to Coal Communities program, which the Economic Development Administration uses "to assist communities severely impacted by the declining use of coal through activities and programs that support economic diversification, job creation, capital investment, workforce development, and re-employment opportunities," according to a press release from the Department of Commerce.

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