Property at 2199 Pyrite Road in Casper. (Google screenshot)

CASPER, Wyo. — TrueNorth Steel has paid off an economic development expansion loan to the Natrona County-City of Casper Economic Development Joint Powers Board and left town. 

The corrugated steel business has reportedly consolidated its wholesale of construction supplies in Casper with other sites. TrueNorth Steel also operates from North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana. Its company is headquartered in Fargo, North Dakota.

The closure was one of several project updates Advance Casper and Forward Casper CEO Justin Farley shared with members of the Joint Powers Economic Development Board during its Aug. 15 public meeting.

Farley did not know if the TrueNorth Steel building at 7242 W. Yellowstone is up for sale.

“It seems early to know,” he said at the meeting.

The Economic Development Joint Powers Board was created and is funded by the City of Casper and Natrona County to drive economic development in the area. Representatives from the County Commission and City Council sit on the board.

Advance Casper is a public–private partnership contracted by the joint powers board to serve as the economic development organization for the city and county. Forward Casper is the private membership side of Advance Casper comprised of businesses and individuals who have invested in the organization to spur economic development across Natrona County. 

Farley also updated joint powers board members on two fledgling economic development projects.

On Aug. 8, Advance Casper, with the assistance of state funding, closed on the purchase of property at 2199 Pyrite. Interested in the Pyrite property, but held up by geopolitical issues, is Phoslock Environmental Technologies.

According to its website, PET is a global leader in the treatment and remediation of freshwaters, particularly those impacted by excessive levels of phosphorus.

Another project, one involving forming a local foreign-trade zone incubator, could also work at the Pyrite location, Farley told Oil City News on Monday, Aug. 21. 

Casper is the only U.S foreign-trade zone in Wyoming, Farley said. 

“The FTZ has been here forever,” he said. “We’re trying to ‘Wyoming-ize’ it and to explore and use [the designation].”

Advance Casper, as a third-party agent, is proposing to take on the administrative duties of an FTZ; however, many details still need coordination. 

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection website states: “Foreign-Trade Zones are secure areas under U.S. Customs and Border Protection supervision that are generally considered outside CBP territory upon activation. Located in or near CBP ports of entry, they are the United States’ version of what are known internationally as free-trade zones.”

Foreign and domestic merchandise may be moved into zones for operations, including storage, exhibition, assembly, manufacturing and processing, the website says.

Farley said if formed, a local FTZ incubator would store and keep record of items purchased by a local business, which could then delay paying the tariff all at once because tax isn’t due until the purchased items leave the FTZ location.

If a manufacturer, for example, wanted to buy a large quantity of parts from an out-of-country vendor, it could bite off a large tariff incrementally by paying smaller amounts as items are sold, he said. There are also potential tax-savings when purchasing multiple parts for an assembled unit such as a bicycle.

At this stage, Farley said Advance Casper is seeking to identify and start partnerships with local manufacturers to build out this concept. He said depending on which country imports the goods, the FTZ could have a “big impact.”

The idea of an incubator would be to help a business start the FTZ process with the goal of eventually having enough growth to branch out on its own.

“We need to prove out that business model,” Farley said.