The Sheridan County Chamber of Commerce announced the recipients of the 2019 Awards of Excellence during the Feb. 12 Chamber Lunch at the Holiday Inn Sheridan.
Nominations for the awards were submitted by members of the Chamber. The nominations then went before the Chamber’s Awards Committee, who compiled the final slate of nominees. Voting to determine the winners was done by the membership via on-line ballot.
The awards presented and the recipients are:
Spirit of Sheridan
This award honors a business or individual who volunteers countless hours for the betterment of the Chamber and Sheridan County: demonstrates vision, ambition, and drive to serve the community and the mission of the Chamber, understanding a community thrives when those in it invest and contribute to its success.
2019 Recipient: Jenny Craft
Ask anyone who knows Jenny Craft to describe her in one word, and you’ll most likely hear “connector.” Although Jenny Craft’s job at the Homer A. & Mildred S. Scott Foundation involves providing financial support to the area’s non-profit organizations, philanthropy and volunteer work are an integral part of Jenny’s personal life as well. She serves as a Big Sister for Greater Wyoming Big Brothers Big Sisters, a volunteer coach and referee for the Sheridan County YMCA, a Court Appointed Special Advocate for Compass Center for Families, assists with the Keystone Awards, delivers Meals on Wheels with The Hub on Smith and Sheridan Rotary Club, and serves as Rotary’s Inbound Exchange Student Coordinator. She also participates in Rotary’s numerous service projects throughout the community. Jenny says “Contributing to someone’s day, project, community program or large-scale endeavor truly feels great. To be part of a team, to be part of an initiative with a positive outcome really benefits my life.”
This award honors a Chamber member non-profit organization that has made a significant impact in Sheridan County: a non-profit that serves with enthusiasm and dedication, addressing needs in the community and aligning the vision of its organization for maximum effectiveness.
2019 Recipient: Sheridan Community Land Trust
Sheridan Community Land Trust (SCLT) works to preserve our heritage of open spaces, healthy rivers and creeks, working ranches, wildlife habitat and vibrant history, while expanding recreation opportunities to connect people with the places they love. In the last year, more than 10,000 visitors have enjoyed the 13 miles of single-track trail built and maintained by SCLT, including Red Grade Trails at the base of the Bighorns, and Soldier Ridge and Hidden Hoot trails on the west edge of Sheridan. They’ve also developed the Tongue River Water Trail, organized educational courses for ranchers, recreationists and children, preserved two iconic images of Sheridan’s past through their historic preservation easements and worked with local families to conserve 3,000 acres in Sheridan County. SCLT most recently announced a trailblazing partnership with EMIT Technologies to bring more recreational trails close to home and received approval for the Red Grade Trails expansion to develop 15 new miles of safe, sustainable trails so more people have new ways to enjoy the beauty of the Bighorns.
Strength of Sheridan
This award honors a Chamber member business or organization that has a long and distinguished tenure in the community (20+ years): an organization that demonstrates consistent service, continually invests in the community, and demonstrates sustained quality performance.
2019 Recipient: WYO Theater, Inc.
The WYO Performing Arts & Education Center (also known as the WYO Theater) is a live performing arts venue in the heart of downtown Sheridan offering a wide variety of live performances, student classes, rental space and like activities. The WYO serves as a gathering place for individuals of all incomes, backgrounds and ages to enjoy a shared experience and is often cited as one reason newcomers decide to relocate to Sheridan. The WYO’s nominator said, “The WYO offers (among many things) a place for children to learn and grow in confidence and skills, space for other nonprofits and Sheridan College, the opportunity for residents region-wide to broaden their cultural horizons and is an economic driver for Main Street.” This past season the WYO served nearly 21,000 patrons, with close to 4,000 of those students attending one of nine free student matinees. The WYO presented or hosted 20 free outreach events in 2018-2019, offered more than 2,700 free or discounted tickets to those in need and logged 7,000 plus volunteer hours. In the past year, the WYO celebrated its 30th Anniversary Season and was a recipient of a Governor’s Arts Award.
Small Business (under 20 full-time employees)
This award honors a Chamber member small business that demonstrates steady growth, solid leadership and a strong commitment to the success of the Sheridan area. This business shows innovation in strategic planning, employee development and customer service and is actively involved in the betterment of the community.
2019 Recipient: Red Bison Studio
Red Bison Studio started in 2012 in a ceramics class at the University of Wyoming by owner Stephen Mullins. In 2014, Stephen moved to Sheridan for a teaching job and the studio continued to grow to the point that he was able to resign from teaching and open a brick and mortar shop in downtown Sheridan in June 2018. By February 2019, Stephen hired additional employees and moved into a larger location on Sheridan’s Main Street. Red Bison Studio continues to grow its customer base locally, statewide and beyond. One of Stephen’s goals when opening Red Bison was to make clay accessible to nearly everyone. He and his staff are dementia friendly certified and work with rural schools who don’t have a ceramics program. As stated by one of his nominators, “Using his teaching background and creative skills, Stephen has developed an amazing community clay studio that is welcoming to people of all ages, skills and abilities.” This past year, Stephen also was recognized for his work, receiving an honorable mention in the Wyoming Arts Council fellowship program.
Large Business (20 or more full-time employees)
This award honors a Chamber member large business that maintains consistent growth and strong performance, understands its customer, has an engaged workforce with effective leadership, and is continually innovating to support future growth. This business not only invests in its continued success, but also invests its resources in the success of the community.
2019 Recipient: EMIT
EMIT was founded in 2000 by Casey and Sue Osborn who had relocated to Sheridan after working in the oil and gas industry. From their experience with air quality requirements affecting natural gas-fired engines used in gas compression, EMIT began building catalytic converters out of a shop near Fifth and Main. With the basic focus of providing a customer-focused solution, EMIT has built upon that strategy to offer a variety of exhaust, controls, structural and safety solutions to the gas compression industry. This year EMIT has successfully relocated all of its manufacturing to a state-of-the-art facility on North Main Street and continues to expand all operations into one North 4.0 campus. EMIT considers it an honor and a duty to reinvest resources back into the community through their #EMITCommunity initiatives. By partnering with some of the organizations in and around Sheridan who are making real impacts in our community, they continue to work towards making Sheridan a better place for everyone.
Business Person of the Year
This award honors a Chamber member business person who shows outstanding business acumen and strong leadership in business and community efforts. This person is a champion for economic development, constantly strives to exceed customer expectations, delivers industry leading standards of service and quality, and exhibits innovation in business development.
2019 Recipient: Antonia Armenta-Miller, Bonafide Foods
In 2017, Antonia Armenta-Miller and her husband, Brian, decided to take all of their life savings and make their dream of a mobile food business a reality. After being involved in the local foods network in the Sheridan area, the couple realized that the producers needed a larger commercial outlet for their produce and products to stay viable, and locally Sheridan needed some “real and genuine” local foods. Thus the Bonafide Food Truck was born and after the first summer, Bonafide catering was added. Bonafide now purchases over $40,000 in local meats and produce each year, providing clients with the freshest of foods and their producers a viable living. Outside of the business Antonia has been active on the Farmers Market steering committee and Local Foods Board and was instrumental in establishing the mobile vending policy for the City of Sheridan. She and Brian volunteer with Rooted in Wyoming and Pheasants Forever and are leaders of mentor-ship program of the national FOODTRUCKR network. In the past year, Antonia opened a community commissary kitchen for other mobile vendors and local producers to have access to a certified kitchen.
For more information, contact the Sheridan County Chamber of Commerce at (307) 672-2485.