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Nov 19, 2009

Eleutian Negotiating Move to Cody

RUFFIN PREVOST Gazette Wyoming Bureau

 

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CODY — A growing company that employs Wyoming teachers for online English language instruction is in negotiations to relocate to Cody after plans fell through to expand its Ten Sleep headquarters.

The move by Eleutian Technology would bring approximately 20 full-time jobs to Cody, with some workers moving from Ten Sleep, while other positions would be filled after the relocation, said Brian Holiday, general counsel for the company.

 

Eleutian employs more than 350 additional part-time teachers living across the Bighorn Basin and elsewhere, and would maintain an office in Ten Sleep to help manage teaching operations.

“Ten Sleep is an important piece of who we are, and where we, as a company, came from. We hope to always have an office in Ten Sleep,” Holiday said.

 

He said the company pays an average annual salary of about $50,000 for most of its full-time professional employees, including attorneys and accountants.

 

Eleutian uses Internet video teleconferencing, along with proprietary software and education content, to teach conversational English to language students in Asia.

 

The company employs instructors, primarily certified teachers, to work flexible part-time hours, and it is ramping up operations to meet expanding demand over the next two years.

 

“If we’re going to make a move, we need to do something fairly soon if we want to make it work in Wyoming,” said Kent Holiday, company president and brother of Brian Holiday. “For us, this is really the last hurrah to keep it in Wyoming.”

 

Executives had been talking with officials in various Wyoming communities, including Casper, as well as in cities in other states, he said.

 

A move to another state would be a considerable setback for Wyoming economic development specialists who have worked hard to support the growing firm. Eleutian has received substantial financial assistance from the state for employee training and for office space.

 

Eleutian managers scrapped a plan to build a new corporate headquarters on 40 acres of land the company acquired in Ten Sleep after learning they would need to invest nearly $150,000 in a drinking water well and engineering and architectural plans as part of an application for state grant funds.

Kent Holiday said he was committed to building a company that could thrive in a rural area, and that he had worked hard to keep the company in Ten Sleep, but the town of about 300 has little housing and no suitable large-scale office space to accommodate growth.

 

The move to Cody depends largely on securing a business-committed grant from the Wyoming Business Council to develop a new corporate headquarters. The deadline for that application is Dec. 1, and a public meeting on the matter is scheduled for Nov. 30.

 

Brian Holiday said that there was no single incentive offered by Cody that has driven the company’s relocation decisions.

 

“The people of Cody are its biggest asset. It’s not that Casper or other areas won’t work, it’s just that the people of Cody have gone overboard to make us feel wanted and welcome. From the mayor, to the waitress at Zapata’s yesterday, Cody is full of warm, knowledgeable, great people,” he said.

He said the company is looking at properties near Yellowstone Regional Airport and along Big Horn Avenue, to which Powell employees could most easily commute.

 

Plans call for building or renovating a headquarters of about 10,000 square feet with room for expansion on a lot that would allow a corporate campus atmosphere with open space and extensive landscaping, he said.

 

He said the company was “excited about the possibility” of relocating to Cody, but cautioned that terms were still under negotiation and no final deal had been reached.