A Cody, Wyo. company is seeking about $940,000 in financial help from the state so it can beef up sales of its jerky products.
However, Wyoming Authentic Products previously benefited from state aid when it started up, and some believe the company should now foot the costs of expansion itself.
A sharply divided Wyoming Business Council last week approved the proposed project, which involves a $750,000 state grant and a state-arranged loan of about $190,000.
The Wyoming State Loan and Investment Board will make the final decision in April on whether to approve the request.
Wyoming Authentic Products benefited in the beginning of its operations when the local Cody economic development organization constructed the building that's now the jerky producer's home with the help of a $1.2 million state grant in 2011.
The company's new proposal seeks to expand its office, smoker, raw meat preparation and packaging space, Julie Kozlowski, the Business Council's community development director, told the Casper Star-Tribune.
The project's costs are just over $1 million. The city of Cody requested the $750,000 state grant, and the Business Council arranged for a four-year, 5 percent loan to the company to help pay for the project.
Wyoming Authentic Products will have to pony up about $97,000 of its own money, according to Josh Keefe, economic development finance manager for the Business Council.
Fourteen people currently work for Wyoming Authentic Products, which uses only Wyoming-raised cattle, according to materials provided to the Business Council.
With the expansion, the plan is to hire 10 more by January 2020. Employees will earn $43,000 a year, which is $10,000 over the county median.
The Business Council's vote to award the grant was split seven to six.
Mike Sullivan of Cheyenne, a member of the council, said he was concerned that other firms will see the money and want more for themselves.
"It's going to become too easy to go for a second and third and fourth grant," he said.