Jobs: Picking Our Targets (part 1 of 5)
This Guest Commentary is the first in a five-part series about employment/jobs in our community, by Sheridan Mayor Dave Kinskey. Originally published in The Sheridan Press on January 21, 2012.
Our country’s economy has been hard hit by the recession and Sheridan is no different. Historically Wyoming tends to lag behind the rest of the country by about two years, so it may have taken us a bit longer to feel the economic effects of the recession. Now as the rest of the country experiences its slow climb out of the economic decline, we in Sheridan find that we lag behind the national trend.
Still, the fact that the national economy appears to be recovering gives us cause to anticipate our own revival is on the horizon. As part of that revitalization, we need to stand firmly behind our established local businesses and support their growth.
We continue to encourage and embrace our agricultural industry, our travel and tourism industry and the energy industry. Additionally, we need to cultivate new and diversified jobs such as internet related jobs, light manufacturing and others.
Standing behind and continuing to provide opportunity for these and all local employers is the fastest and least expensive path to continued job growth. We must foster a favorable business climate that welcomes new businesses that may be considering expansion in or relocation to Sheridan.
Several years ago The Wadley Donovan Group – an economic development consulting firm – – was recruited by the Wyoming Business Council to provide a community profile for the Sheridan area. The study’s objectives were to identify realistic industry targets that offer diversity to our existing job base and are consistent with our quality of life.
The study identified and suggested industries that could operate competitively in Sheridan and provide employment opportunities that typically offer above-average wages. They include:
Information Services – Data processing and information retrieval services, electronic data storage/server farms, and IT services and products.
Professional, Scientific, Management and Technical Services – Engineering and environmental services, research, consulting, management and related services, many of which serve not only a regional but national and global customer and client base;
Small Supportive Office (back office) Operations – Administrative and customer support and service operations to address expanding needs of growing industries from mineral extraction to health care.
Small, Light Manufacturing – small, custom or niche manufacturing operations and service operations that fill specific needs of other manufacturers or consumers, a trade that is less vulnerable to overseas competition than traditional mass manufacturing.
Creative Arts, Western Arts, Home Furnishings – Artisans, crafters, writers, musicians with a focus on Western theme production companies, sound and recording studios, Western home décor, furniture, leather crafting and art;
Recreation and Western-Themed Tourism – Year round recreational diversity supporting the image of Sheridan County as a creative and recreationally-active community – a fun and dynamic place to live, work, play and visit.
How did the Wadley Donovan firm select these industry segments? First, there are in fact businesses of each of these types already operating and growing in Sheridan. The fact that they find this a natural home makes them a sure fit for encouraging their expansion. Second, these are the jobs of the future. Third, these are jobs that have what the study authors call a “low head count” – – that is, small work places that can fit nicely within our local quality of life and community.
Identified also in the study was the potential for some of these businesses to partner with Sheridan College with the creation of training programs and job opportunities. With our superior local educational system, we can be assured that we are effectively preparing our children for these jobs of the future.
These targets build on our community’s unique blend of assets and challenges, and offer an excellent base for career, skills and income enhancement among our residents. At the same time they are consistent with our high quality of life.
If you would like to learn more about where we hope to go as a community with our economic development and diversification I recommend reading the Wadley Donovan study. If you would like a copy it is available on the City’s website at www.sheridanwy.net or you can contact my office and we will be happy to send you a copy.
Expanding the Sheridan employment market with these industry sectors assures growth in opportunity. The diversity they offer – in combination with our traditional job base – will lend greater stability to our local economy. We embrace our established businesses and are optimistic that others looking to relocate or expand will see Sheridan as a welcoming community with an available workforce primed and ready to go to work.
Together we will continue to build a future that is business –ready and job-friendly while maintaining our special quality of life.
Posted in the following categories: About Sheridan County, Economic & Business Development