The Wyoming State Loan and Investment Board on Thursday approved a package of $3.4 million in state grants and loans to build a new barley malting plant in Pine Bluffs.

The board, which is made up of the state's five statewide officials, voted 4-1 in favor of the funding on Thursday morning in Cheyenne.

Secretary of State Ed Murray, who was the lone no vote, said the proposal was ''a tough decision", and added he wished the project well. But he noted there is only so much state money available to help fund projects around Wyoming, adding the board can't approve every proposal.

The 20,000 square foot facility will initially be owned by Cheyenne LEADS (an economic development organization) and leased to Pine Bluffs residents Chad Brown and Gene Purdy, who are business partners in the project. Brown and Purdy would have the option of eventually purchasing the facility, which is expected to supply craft malts for breweries in Wyoming and Colorado as well as malt for distilling whiskey.

Purdy and Brown say they are hoping to break ground on the project in December, with construction expected to take nine months or so.