Sheridan’s Economic Outlook

Economic Outlook Forum, May 2012Today the Wyoming Business Alliance brought us a forum looking at some of the indicators that suggest the economic direction for Wyoming and specifically for Sheridan.

The Forum leaders are pictured to the left, left to right: Anthony Spiegelberg, Wells Fargo; Dr. Jon Connolly, Shseridan College; Eric Brandjord, Sheridan County Chamber; Lori Cameron, U.S. Energy Council; and moderator Mark Kinner, First Interstate Bank. 

Lori Cameron, president of the U.S. Energy Council, shared the outlook for the U.S. energy industry, with particular focus on the current issues and future for shale gas development and for the TransCanada Keystone XL Pipeline. She also spoke to the “No” culture of regulators, blocking new ventures that can provide jobs and more energy resources.

She was followed by three local panelists, who shared various indicators that say something about our local economic outlook, a local economy that appears to be moving, slowly, into recovery.

Sharing just a few of their comments:

From Anthony Spiegelberg, market president of Wells Fargo: The local banking industry is slowly getting healthier with fewer problem loans. There is plenty of mortgage money available in Sheridan County, but with tighter eligibility. Real estate sales are recovering. (Sheridan County had real estate sales totaling $60 million, from 292 transactions, in the first four months of 2012.) City tax collections are flat, an improvement over decreasing collections. Our economic drivers will continue to be health care (enabled by technology), high-performing schools, and businesses related to the energy industry. We also expect to see growth in light manufacturing, technology, the service industry, construction, and state and local government.

From Dr. Jon Connolly, VP of academic affairs for Sheridan College and Gillette College: The College is placing emphasis on the “community” aspect of its educational presence, especially in providing skill development programs and faculty expertise that can benefit the community … and in leverage and experiments with new ways to support the community’s workforce needs. The College is meeting with industry partners to assess current skill-based programs and address what is really needed.

From Eric Brandjord, president of the Sheridan County Chamber board and business development lead at Inter-Mountain Laboratories: We have ongoing improvements in our quality of life — miles and miles of pathways, new restaurants, a thriving downtown, as well as the significant contributions ($92 million since 1995) by the Whitney Benefits Foundation for the betterment of our community. The Economic Development Task Force, a coalition of our economically-focused organizations, is focusing efforts on attracting new businesses to the area. We have the new hi tech business park, the North Main revitalization that included beautification as well as infrastructure, and the contributions of Sheridan College. Our biggest threat? The regulatory and political environment, and national energy policy, affecting natural resource development.

We thank all of the speakers for their insight.

 

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