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SHERIDAN — Sheridan’s Economic Development Task Force heard a report from City Planner Robert Briggs regarding a community development block grant study from the Wyoming Business Development Council at their regularly scheduled meeting Thursday. The study, designed to examine the impact of using the railroad for strategic business development, showed a low probability of modifying railroad service through Sheridan for alternative logistical purposes.
Briggs said the study examined three scenarios: one with business as it sits today, and two where the railroad is re-routed, both with spurs in town and without. He said the study shows little room for modification of existing business practices.
“From an overall standpoint, the railroad corridor development strategy reinforces what we’ve already heard from the North Main Economic Development Strategy, which is that a lot of what Sheridan can do locally is focus on site-specific development and matching creative development,” Briggs said, elaborating the best businesses to sit by the tracks are those like stock yards or saw mills.
“Right now, as far as the railroad is concerned, they’re very much married to transporting coal, which is not a big surprise,” Briggs said. “We do have some local businesses utilizing the railroad, but its not a particularly high volume, nor is it very east to get (Burlington Northern Santa Fe LLC) to adjust their business model of logistics to serve new businesses.”
Briggs said he brought the report to the EDTF to provide an opportunity for questions.
Also at Thursday’s meeting of the EDTF:
•The task force reviewed the EDTF’s budget to date, which is now $77,466.32. So far this year, the task force has spent $11,995 on marketing, including the development of the “WY Sheridan Works” advertising campaign and securing the rights to arial photographs taken of the area.
• Dr. Susan Bigelow, vice president for external relations and economic development for the Northeast Wyoming Community College District, reviewed an initiative with the group to form a community authority charged with developing creative arts as a pillar of the local economy. According to an economic study conducted in 2008, arts encompass approximately eight percent of the local economy.
•Jay Stender, executive director of Forward Sheridan, revealed the virtual building for Sheridan’s business parks is now complete and viewable on the Forward Sheridan website.
•Sheridan Travel and Tourism Executive Director Shawn Buckley gave a report to the board concerning the new “WY Sheridan Works” logo and expanded marketing campaigns on social media.
“We have nearly tripled our audience over the course of the past month,” Buckley said, adding that reaching out to new potential audiences and aligning the STT website to be more synchronized with social media sites contributed to the recent expansion in Sheridan’s tourism marketing audience.
•The task force discussed plans to place ads in the upcoming issue of Destinations magazine.
•Sheridan Mayor Dave Kinskey updated the force on his planned trip to the Data Center World convention in Orlando, Fla. Stender and City Counselor Alex Lee will join Kinskey at the conference in Sheridan’s first self-introduction in attempts to recruit a data center.
• Sheridan County Administrative Director Renee Obermueller announced there is now a website dedicated to informing the public about issues pertinent to the Capital Facilities Tax that will be up for special election Nov. 5.
•Kinskey announced he’ll be brining in a consultant from Zucker Systems to revue city building, fire codes and the city’s building permit and subdivision process.
Zucker came to Sheridan a few years ago and made 96 recommendations for improvements. Kinseky said all have been addressed over the past 18 months.