A new barley malting plant in Pine Bluffs is one step closer to becoming a reality.

Laramie County Commissioners on Tuesday unanimously approved a contingency and development agreement with Cheyenne LEADS, the Town of Pine Bluffs and the Wyoming Malting Company for constructing the facility with funding from a $3.4 million combination grant and loan.

The 20,000 square foot plant, which would be built in the Pine Bluffs Business Park, would be owned by Cheyenne LEADS and leased to business partners Chad Brown and Gene Purdy, who have the option of eventually purchasing the facility.

"We're extremely happy that the commissioners have taken another step to approve this project and keep it moving forward," said Brown. "That's all we can ask for."

The plant would turn locally grown grains into malt that would be sold to regional breweries and also be used for distilling whiskey.

The county still needs to approve a loan agreement with the Wyoming Business Council before money for the project can be distributed.

If approved, Brown says they hope to put the project out for bid early next year and break ground on the facility in late spring.