Growth and Prosperity in a Place People Love

Forward Sheridan and Sheridan Economic and Educational Development Authority (SEEDA)
Written by Jessica Ferlaino

Sheridan, Wyoming is a community that feels complete, one that has long focused on the development of a strong educational foundation, safe communities, recreational amenities, and the economic growth and prosperity needed to support an exceptional quality of life.

The city of Sheridan has become attractive to businesses, individuals, and families that have grown tired of paying the high costs of living in densely populated areas and mature markets; where resources, including labor, are expensive and the competition for resources diminishes the quality of life. Not so in Sheridan.

Economic viability and strong community involvement go hand in hand here. The public and private sectors come together to collaboratively leverage and bolster its many assets through investments that create a sense of place unparalleled for business and families alike.

The community, while relatively small, enjoys an aquatic center, an ice-skating rink, a theater, as well as other recreational and cultural amenities, all wrapped up in a beautifully preserved historic downtown and Main Street. Forward Sheridan CEO Jay Stender says, “It’s a place where people choose to live.”

Wyoming enjoys a favorable tax structure and has done a great job of creating a pro-business environment. As Robert Briggs, the administrator of the Sheridan Economic and Educational Development Authority (SEEDA) says, “Wyoming has built up this infrastructure of communicating across the state.”

Mechanism for support
The pro-business sentiment in the area enables flexibility in addressing business and industry need and provides a mechanism for resources and support to be offered.

Further to state infrastructure, Sheridan enjoys access to Interstate 90, connecting goods and people to markets north and south, and marries to an eastern connection that further expands the market reach enjoyed by companies who call Sheridan home.

Sheridan also benefits from Tier-One Railroad and commercial air service, as well as a fiber-optic infrastructure to support manufacturing operations, specifically light-manufacturing, which is a target for diversification, and local businesses now and into the future.

In addition to these physical assets, cooperation and a team approach to economic development has been the catalyst driving economic opportunity and growth potential in Sheridan. Partnership is bountiful and one of the greatest assets for the region to draw on.

Not a typical town
“Sheridan is a community that very much feels complete and whole. You have the recreational features of the Big Horn mountains and also the rivers and streams that are prime for fishing and recreation, but we also have a community that has a number of assets and amenities that are atypical of small towns,” says Briggs.

SEEDA is one of the many stakeholders who are leading the charge in Sheridan, promoting it as a community where business, industry, and prosperity come together for an outstanding quality of life. Forward Sheridan is another.

Economic success and community vibrancy would not be possible without Forward Sheridan and SEEDA, the first being the privately funded development arm that focuses on infrastructure, professional services, and efforts to attract industry, and grow business and prosperity in Sheridan; the latter a joint-powers board comprised of government representatives from various levels, the education system and local business and industry. Together they are a force to be reckoned with.

“SEEDA exists to be a mechanism or vehicle for funding economic development projects, particularly capital projects,” explains Briggs. Such a one is the recent Weatherby, Inc. project located in the Sheridan High Tech Business Park, which is administered by SEEDA. Weatherby recently relocated to Sheridan, drawn to its many assets and operational advantages such as the business park.

Welcoming business
“We have been very successful with our High Tech Business Park,” Briggs continues, “and after some construction takes place this summer into next year, we’ll have filled it with industry, so we are looking for the next opportunity – both in terms of project-ready properties and also other opportunities – in terms of ways that we can be a partner and a player in the economic development efforts of the community.”

Other development partners in the community include the Wyoming Business Council, the Sheridan County Chamber of Commerce, Sheridan Travel and Tourism, and the various school districts, including the Northern Wyoming Community College District.

There’s also Sheridan College, as well as the local business incubator, supported by the Wyoming Technology Business Center out of the University of Wyoming, which fosters entrepreneurship locally and regionally.

To support growth in the manufacturing sector, Sheridan is taking advantage of its available skilled workforce, while also leveraging the commitment from education partners to develop talent to address the needs of industry, staying ahead of the industry curve through proactive efforts rather than reactive struggles.

Transferable skills
Many individuals in Sheridan, because of the presence of oil, gas, and energy markets, have transferable skills in light manufacturing, which of late has been a focus of development. Thanks to education partners locally and regionally, and their willingness to work with local industry to ensure relevant training programs are available, economic developers have an edge in recruitment.

“The willingness and the commitment to work with local industry help ensure that the training programs that are available are lining up with skills that are in demand, both in the region in the near future and maybe in the skills companies are working towards. We keep an eye on the transitioning of industry needs as well,” says Briggs.

“That commitment, paired with the philanthropic generosity of some of our local foundations, has helped design an education system that is responsive to industry, but also has the ability, and is building the capacity, to train in many of these critical skills areas,” says Briggs, speaking of skills such as welding and machine-tools expertise.

Private sector support
Given the recent ups and downs of the energy sector, and the important role of energy royalties in the public funding of essential services like education, the supplemental support from the private sector takes on new importance. It’s seen as being of paramount importance in improving the economic diversity of the community, so as to insulate both the community and its many businesses from challenging economic times.

As manufacturers like Weatherby, Inc. understand, Sheridan can offer strong government, education and professional services sectors, particularly those that serve energy sector actors like EMIT Technologies, Inc., and L & H Industrial Inc., and other industrial players like CraftCo Metal Services and Vacutech.

Sheridan also has a strong medical sector, which serves as an economic driver and a quality-of-life feature that cannot be ignored. Stender highlights this amenity: “Health care here ranges from children, troubled youth, standard hospital and mental health, geriatric, the full palette of turnkey health care. Sheridan is one of the few communities our size that has that.”

A place people choose
In many ways, it is evident that Sheridan punches above its weight and as a collective, the community continues to identify ways to make it a place people choose to live in. As well, Sheridan fosters a pro-business environment supporting the economic opportunities that keep it viable, vibrant and committed to progress and prosperity.

Together with their partners, Forward Sheridan and SEEDA remain at the forefront of these efforts, as they identify ways to develop and grow Sheridan and the region, maximizing assets and investing in the community, prioritizing both economic and community well-being to everyone’s competitive advantage.

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