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CHEYENNE — This is an age where business occurs over the phone and networking often means connecting via video conference calls on a broadband network.
Sheridan area business leaders would not argue against the many advantages of technology in business. However, there is still something to be said about the bridges that are built over a handshake and a hello.
Thursday, more than 20 participants in Leadership Sheridan County, a yearlong course through the Sheridan County Chamber of Commerce in business practice and management, built bridges with local legislators and Gov. Matt Mead at the Capitol building in Cheyenne. Many participants said the encounters gave them a sense of confidence.
“It was really wonderful to meet Sheridan’s representatives because they really were interested in the work we’re doing in Sheridan and what’s happening at the college,” Grants Manager John Sutton said. “What I’ll take back is figuring out ways to collaborate between ourselves and some of the people here in Cheyenne. I think the more we can collaborate, the more we can cooperate with each other, the easier it will be to move forward on some issues that will help everyone.”
Sutton is administering a grant for Employment and Training for Self Sufficiency through the Department of Workforce Services that will enable low income students at Sheridan College, who are also parents, move into vocational tracks that will help their families become self sufficient and less dependent on government help.
Participant Heather Vanderhoef, a realtor with Summit Realty in Sheridan, said she was glad to meet with the governor and see how much he cared about the state.
She said being able to tell new people who come to Sheridan about all that is being done in the state and at the Legislature — including building a unified broadband network and strengthening education systems — helps grow business, which, in turn, grows her business as a realtor.
“It’s not just an energy state. We have the VA hospital, we have these great people working for the state, we have tourism, and we have great tax programs in place for them and great schools for their kids,” Vanderhoef said. “That’s really important when you have new people coming in, you can share all that with them, share the positive energy you have about Sheridan and Wyoming.”
Dave Wills, owner of Let ‘Er Buck Car Wash and manager of Wyoming Building Supply, was leading the state Legislature module for Leadership Sheridan County. He said he appreciated Mead’s efforts to make Wyoming as business friendly as possible.
Mead stopped into a luncheon hosted by the Wyoming Chamber Partnership in the atrium of the Herschler Building near the Capitol and talked about his desire to put together a “one stop shop” website where people interested in bringing a business to the state could access all the rules and regulations and boards and commissions in the state to see if it is a desirable location for their business.
Mead also expressed his support of the private sector.
“We’re on the same page as you because in order for Wyoming to remain strong, the private sector must remain strong, particularly the Chambers,” Mead said in his address.
Executive Director of the Sheridan County Chamber of Commerce Dixie Johnson said she was glad for Mead’s words and for the chance to bring Sheridan business people to Cheyenne to see how the Legislature works and make connections.
“We were able to connect one-on-one with our legislators and with a number of other professionals in our industry who were also connecting and also represent a lot of businesses in their areas,” Johnson said.
“I think this is important because our delegation, our legislators are down here representing us, and it’s important for all of us to know what they are doing and making decisions and working on our behalf,” Johnson continued. “I think it’s every person’s responsibility to have a part of that, to not sit back, not have a voice, and then expect decisions to be made on their behalf in their best interest.”