CODY, WY - While the Wyoming economy statewide is taking a beating, one agricultural company in northwest Wyoming is getting a boost from the federal government.

Wyoming Legacy Meats was founded in 2016 by a pair of doctors who wanted to do more than treat disease - they wanted to promote health by starting with the food that people eat. 

Doctors Frank and Caety Schmidt, who also own and operate the Double Doc Ranch east of Cody, worked with Cody’s Economic Development arm, Forward Cody, to found the first USDA certified meat processing plant in Wyoming since the 1970s. Frank Schmidt says this way they could control the product from, in their words, “conception to consumption.”

“We felt like, if we could take some of the things we didn’t like out of the food chain, it might contribute to the health of the people who consumed the meat,” he explains.

Their model has proven so successful that the demand for higher quality meat from their processing plant has grown more than they can keep up with, according to James Klessens with Forward Cody. At the moment, Wyoming Legacy Meats can only process around a dozen head of cattle per day, but Klessens says market demands are pushing for more. So his organization reached out to the Economic Development Administration to apply for a grant that would help them expand.

“Meatpacking isn’t the sexiest or the prettiest project out there - but most of us still eat meat, and so there’s a real need for it,” Klessens notes. “And so we were able to get interest from them in applying for project funding.”

This week two representatives from Washington D.C., Joel Fushone and Anthony Foti, personally traveled to Cody to announce the presentation of a grant from the US Department of Commerce to Forward Cody, which will construct the facility and lease it to the Schmidts.

“They put their equity on the line,” Foti notes, referring to the Schmidts. “And they have really invested in this community to create jobs, to grow, and there’s demand here.”

“These are projects that we said are transformative for generations,” Fushone points out. “And Legacy Meats, they’re going to be able to do something that they’ve wanted to do - that Wyoming has wanted to do - for decades, and going to be able to do that here. And that’s going to have a really big regional impact.”

The $2.2 million dollar federal grant will allow for the expansion of the existing facility in the business park in north Cody. The new plant will be approximately 12,000 square feet, located on land adjacent to the existing processing facility. With the new space they will have the capacity to process around 75 head of beef each day - and, according to Dr. Schmidt, will create dozens of new jobs.

“There’s going to be repercussions in the whole community,” he points out, “because as we produce meat that we’re able to market as local, whether you be a grocery store or a restaurant or whatever, and then all of a sudden their sales go up. And we have definitely seen that.”

The grant, along with a $550 thousand dollar loan from Pinnacle Bank of Cody and personal investment of around $400,000 from the company itself, will allow for construction to begin in the spring, and completion of the project in the fall of 2021.

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