Laramie's goal of keeping a rapidly expanding, locally-grown business in the Gem City is on track to be realized following the State Loan and Investment Board's Thursday morning approval of funding for the building's construction.

The board approved full funding of Laramie's requests for a $2,685,750 grant and a $209,250 loan to construct a 12,150 square-foot building that will eventually house Bright Agrotech. The company, a manufacturer of vertical hydroponics, was founded by CEO Dr. Nate Storey.

The new headquarters will be built in the Laramie River Business Park on a 3.85-acre lot provided by the Laramie Chamber Business Alliance. The project is expected to create 40 jobs over the next three years.

The Laramie Chamber Business Alliance plans on recouping $695,000 in lease payments from Bright Agrotech, and will put those funds toward future economic development opportunities.

Storey, a University of Wyoming graduate and Cheyenne native, won the 2011 UW College of Business $10K Entrepreneurship Competition with business partner Paul Bennick of Gillette. Storey developed his business within the Wyoming Technology Business Center over the next few years and graduated from the incubator last year.

Bright Agrotech, currently housed in the Allsop Inc. warehouse facilities on Commercial Drive in Laramie, recently created the world's largest food-producing wall for the USA Pavilion at last year's World's Fair in Milan, Italy.

Before the Laramie City Council voted on the resolution authorizing the grant and loan application in March, Storey called it "a litmus test" for the company, saying it was important for him to know that Laramie would work and partner with his company.

At the time, he said "We definitely have to do what's right for the business. We think what's right for the business right now is to do whatever we can to stay in Laramie."