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Re: Tech Center vote

 

As an operator of an industrial company, a member of the Sheridan College machine tool technology advisory committee, and a past/present employer of dozens of Sheridan College technical program students, I’m asking Sheridan County residents to support this effort and vote in favor of the bond issue.

Our county and state are desperate for more technically trained workers, and this initiative will definitely help the situation. With each new opening, we struggle to find qualified applicants to fill a position. For example, I’ve advertised locally for three technical jobs lately, yielding a total of four qualified applications for these jobs. During the same period, we posted a single job for a clerical/purchasing position, which produced dozens of qualified applications. The cost of labor in industry is trending higher very quickly compared to white-collar jobs. The quality and depth of the employee pool holds back companies from being able to take advantage of growth opportunities and sometimes even maintain their current operational platforms.

Since 1997, Craftco Metals Services, Inc., has employed 27 Sheridan College-trained machinists and welders, more than 25 percent of our workforce, and many others have taken classes to enhance their careers outside of a degree or certificate program. I’ve heard arguments recently that this department expansion won’t have a large impact on our local community. Based upon this statistic, and similar stories from other industrial companies, I feel that statement is false. We have seen recent growth in our industrial base here in Sheridan with no additional throughput from the Sheridan College programs that support it. We do not have qualified people lined up at our doors. We are fools to think that all of these students will stay in Sheridan County, but many of them will. Many others stay in Wyoming and fill the huge voids we have statewide.

We must also look at the other benefits that this expansion provides. It brings more students, both local and not, into these programs, thus into Sheridan. General growth of Sheridan College student population is good for Sheridan County. Not to mention the added jobs in the construction phase, the added teaching, maintenance, and support staff, and local spending to support the ongoing operations of the programs. These students and professionals involved all drive, eat, recreate and live in Sheridan County. Today, students are being turned away…many of them searching for greener pastures far from here. Industrial businesses that may be looking to relocate here are also much more likely to consider Sheridan County if the support systems they need are in place. We’ve seen some excellent diversification in our local economy from light industrial companies over the past few years and more sure would not hurt.

This bond issue supports our community, our local businesses and our local students. A ‘yes’ vote is a vote supporting the future of Sheridan County and Wyoming on the whole.

 

David Craft

Vice-president, Craftco Metals Services, Inc.

 


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