Jobs: How Soon Can We Start? (part 5 of 5)
This Guest Commentary is the last in a five-part series about employment/jobs in our community, by Sheridan Mayor Dave Kinskey. Originally published in The Sheridan Press on February 23, 2012.
In my first column we took a look at the kinds of jobs that have been identified, with assistance from the Wyoming Business Council as those that we want to attract and encourage to grow in Sheridan. These include: internet and information services; professional, management and technical services; administrative and customer support operations; light manufacturing; creative arts; recreation.
The attention then turned to the four questions any business looking to expand or relocate would ask about: our tax and regulatory environment; availability of employees; quality of life; and, ability to get a business up and running.
In this column I will address the last of these questions: How soon can we start doing business?
Let us assume that an employer knows everything they need to know about Sheridan – – how can they help but be excited about the prospect of opening and/or expanding their business here and thereby creating jobs?
The City of Sheridan has undertaken a series of important initiatives to make sure that we are jobs ready and business committed.
A few years ago the city retained a firm – – the Zucker Group – – to examine all the processes that City Hall uses in issuing the building permit or authorizing a new subdivision or annexing new land to the City.
The Zucker Group had previously pared down the permitting and development process time of Fort Collins Colorado by a very substantial amount of time.
In Sheridan, Zucker brought in experts and they convened listening sessions of builders, developers, architects, engineers to hear their perceptions of how friendly – – or not – – City Hall’s permitting and development processes were.
Likewise they convened sessions with City employees and asked for their candid views.
Out of that came ninety five recommendations to be implemented over an eighteen month period to substantially improve City Hall’s business readiness.
We don’t want to sacrifice what regulations are intended to achieve – – quality, proper and safe construction according to the most up to date methods.
But, we want to make sure that regulations are narrowly tailored and reasonably applied so as not to put hurdles in the way of job creation. That only adds cost without creating any kind of value.
The development community and City Hall have both benefited from this initiative.
Take for instance the recommendation that the city cross train all of our building department personnel. Zucker indicated this would save hundreds (or more) of inspections annually.
To the credit of the folks in the Building Department they have risen to the occasion and have been busy cross training and adopting multiple disciplines so that now the City of Sheridan is a “one stop shop” when it comes to building inspections. Very often, a single inspector does the ‘sign off’ at each phase of construction.
Other examples are reducing and simplifying our building and permitting fees.
These are just two of ninety five recommendations that were adopted.
My hat is off to City staff and the many community volunteers that came together to make this happen.
Additionally, City staff is engaging the Planning Commission as well as local citizens and interested members of the development community in looking at our entryway ordinance and related sections of city code. It is important that we preserve all that is beautiful in Sheridan. It is equally important that it be done in an expeditious fashion and with regulations that are clear, consistent and readily understood by the development community.
As part of this process it is my intent that we will significantly speed review time and reduce the overall regulatory burden – – in the end improving the results. Again, a big thanks to all the folks involved in this process. It is difficult and often tedious work but, work that must be done to assure the best possible future for our community and our families.
The Building Department is also currently implementing electronic plan review. Rather than mark up hard copy stacks of mylar plans, a builder can zap them to City Hall over the internet. The plans can be reviewed online and returned quickly. We hope also to enable builders to follow the progress of their permit on line – and to be notified by email or text of approval. The objective: save time and money for all.
These improvements come on top of what is already a very favorable business climate in Wyoming. As previously mentioned in these columns US News and World Report, the Tax Foundation and the Wall Street Journal have all placed Wyoming among the top three states for doing business in the United States of America.
In Sheridan we are blessed to have it all – – a good tax and regulatory environment, great people who can fill new jobs, a wonderful quality of life – – and, a City Hall that is committed to economic development and job creation.
Together we can achieve what so many in the community have desired for so long: a diversified job base offering more opportunity for our families and our children, while preserving our quality of life.
Posted in the following categories: About Sheridan County, Economic & Business Development