CHEYENNE – A three-year tenant of a building constructed by economic development agency Cheyenne LEADS is now the owner of that building.

The building at 6131 Trumpeter Drive was purchased by John Cornish and will continue to be the home of his company Engineering, Procurement and Construction, or EPC, and will also house his in-progress fabrication facility, H2 Fabricators.

Cornish’s companies design and fabricate hydrogen and fuel cell systems that can be used in transportation and other stationary and portable power applications.

Built about 10 years ago, the structure is considered a “spec building,” because it was invested in and constructed by LEADS without a buyer lined up. It’s located within Swan Ranch, an industrial park owned by Casper-based Granite Peak Development.

Cornish started EPC nearly 20 years ago, which he said was “very early market” for that technology. Originally operating the business out of Golden, Colorado, he said he was encouraged by former LEADS CEO Randy Bruns to move the company to Cheyenne – a place Cornish said he’d always loved.

He began leasing the space a few years ago after LEADS put together a lease-purchase agreement.

After recently securing a loan, Cornish was able to buy the building.

“When I saw it, it was actually everything I’d hoped for and more,” he said.

It seemed perfect for EPC, Cornish said: more space meant it would be easier to expand operations, and the property has direct access to railways – a rare find, and something that greatly cuts costs, as rail transport is much cheaper than trucking.

And while Cornish said EPC still has a lot of work to do on the property, he is excited about the future.

“This is kind of a dream come true for me, to be creating the model that the rest of the world can follow for how to manufacture containerized hydrogen systems,” he said, calling his the first facility of its kind in the world.

Interest in hydrogen has grown as climate advocates push for cleaner fuel options, Cornish said. The U.S. Department of Energy calls hydrogen “a clean fuel that, when consumed in a fuel cell, produces only water.” The Wyoming Energy Authority calls the hydrogen economy one of its active initiatives.

Over the next 20 years, internal combustion engines will be phased out, Cornish said. Many major automobile manufacturers have already made promises to move toward electric vehicles, with some even pledging to completely transition to electric vehicles in the coming decades. Some of those will be fueled by hydrogen, instead of rechargeable batteries, he said.

Current LEADS CEO Betsey Hale said the economic development organization for Cheyenne and Laramie County invested $2.2 million in the building and its infrastructure. While the agency considers this kind of project “very worthwhile,” LEADS will likely pursue partnerships with private developers for future building construction on LEADS-owned property, she said.

“Cheyenne LEADS wishes (Cornish) tremendous success in his business endeavor,” Hale said in an email. “The development of renewable alternative energy solutions is very important for a strong and diverse Wyoming economy.”

LEADS also leases a building to Magpul, and Stag Arms occupies two condo spaces in the Arundel Building. Both of these are located within Cheyenne Business Parkway.

Hale said the agency does not have any other buildings for sale or lease at this time, but the organization is considering future projects.

Hannah Black is the Wyoming Tribune Eagle’s criminal justice reporter. She can be reached at hblack@wyomingnews.com or 307-633-3128. Follow her on Twitter at @hannahcblack.