SHERIDAN — The city of Sheridan will say goodbye Aug. 25 to a staff member that has had broad impacts throughout the county.
Robert Briggs, who served 13 years as the planning and later planning and economic development director for the city of Sheridan, will move to Cheyenne Sept. 1, reporting directly to the mayor of Cheyenne as the city’s new planning director.
“It’s a larger community and so there are similar challenges, but they’re on a larger scale and sometimes they can be more complex,” Briggs said. “I think it’s a nice professional challenge for me.”
His 13 years with the city of Sheridan paired with his involvement in both city and state-level economic boards helped lead Briggs to his new role in the state’s capital.
“It’s a logical next step for a planner’s career, if you want to pursue that, is moving onto a larger community and larger responsibility,” Briggs said.
Briggs came into his role as planning director by chance. En route to Sheridan for his job as an assistant with the city after finishing up graduate school at University at Albany, New York, he received word that the person he was supposed to be assisting left the city.
“I was going to come in and be the sole planning professional and so I did and a few months after that, after I started with the city, they made me the full city planner,” Briggs said. “The role has grown over the years. The biggest piece is that economic development component that came about as I moved into handling matters for the Sheridan Economic and Educational Development Authority, that’s SEEDA, joint powers board.”
Since stepping into the role of administrative director for SEEDA, Briggs helped initiate the search for funding and led grant writing for significant projects throughout the city and Sheridan County.
“His grant-writing skills and strategy has helped the community in so many different areas, not only directly with the city and city infrastructure, but also with so many different community projects, whether it be the senior center, the WYO Theater,” said city of Sheridan’s public works director and Briggs’ immediate supervisor Nic Bateson. “He’s played so many different roles with economic development and been a leader for our economic development initiatives.”
The high-tech business park served as one of Briggs’ proudest accomplishments in Sheridan.
“Helping it to become a certified project-ready site and seeing some of the benefits come out of that in terms of businesses relocating and thriving in the high-tech park and some of the other opportunities that are starting to unfold there (is memorable),” Briggs said. “That work in economic development has been very rewarding.”
On the city planning side, Briggs worked with the planning commission, board of adjustments, coordinated the development review committee and served as SEEDA’s administrative director. Also within Sheridan, he conducted outreach work as a city representative for projects like the Senior Center, North Main Association, Downtown Sheridan Association and the Sheridan County Chamber of Commerce. He also served on the board for the Advocacy and Resource Center in Sheridan.
On the state level, he served on the board for the Wyoming Economic Development Association.
“It’s been very busy, but very rewarding,” Briggs said.
Briggs said he appreciates the drive the Sheridan community brings to the job.
“I’m definitely going to miss the sense of community and how passionate people are in Sheridan, how willing they are to give of their time and energy and that real sense of community that’s here,” Briggs said.
As for the workplace, both Briggs and his colleagues will miss the daily interactions.
“I’ve definitely been very happy here and it’s been great to be on the public works team,” Briggs said. “The people in Sheridan are very fortunate to have the community that they do and I feel like I was invited to an extremely cool party and got to spend some time working with some very dedicated people, not only professionals who are paid for their work, but also some very passionate residents who sacrificed a lot of time and a lot of energy to make some very cool things happen.”
Bateson said the job title didn’t do justice for all that Briggs brought to the team.
“We’re trying to be optimistic, but realistic on how many hats Robert wore versus how many hats a typical planning director would fill,” Bateson said.
The process of replacing Briggs will start with the title of planning director.
“We’ll do an extensive search, a broad net to our region trying to really identify a lead planning director in a community that has a lot of the similar characteristics that we have,” Bateson said.
Bateson said the process could take up to four months.
“We’ll definitely pull upon community resources out in the private sector and the development area and make sure that there’s several people involved in the interviewing and selection process,” Bateson said.