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City allocates economic development funding

SHERIDAN — Economic development took center stage Monday as Sheridan City Council approved funding requests from North East Wyoming Municipal Leaders, known as NEWY, and the Sheridan Economic Development Task Force.

NEWY is comprised of municipal leaders from 15 communities in northeast Wyoming ranging from Douglas to Gillette to Dayton. It coordinates tours of mineral development sites and surrounding towns for congressional and world leaders.

According to Councilman Alex Lee, these tours educate U.S. and world leaders about mineral extraction in northeast Wyoming — how it’s done, and what the area can offer — in addition to demonstrating how local towns support tourism and offer opportunities for economic growth. This education process is provided through funds contributed by all participating municipalities and fosters beneficial partnerships.

“It’s a different discussion because they know the money is coming from community leaders, from community dollars that are allocated and voted on by those who live in the community,” Lee said. “The big message there is to say, ‘We’re here. We have coal. We have enough for a century-worth of coal to be used in this country. We can extract our minerals; we can manage the extraction, and we can also do travel and tourism all at the same time and have a good quality of life.”

City Council approved $10,000 of Optional One-Cent Sales Tax economic development contingency funds to be used for NEWY outreach programs. The next outreach is June 20 and will include a delegation from Turkey that will fly into Sheridan, see the mountains and tour the downtown area before touring nearby coal mines and coal bed methane fields, Lee said Monday.

City Council also approved a funding request from the Economic Development Task Force for $42,875. Funds will come from unallocated Optional One-Cent Sales Tax contingency funds designated for economic development, Public Works Director Nic Bateson said. Sheridan County will likely contribute the other half of the necessary funding (an estimated total of $85,750) for programs implemented April 1 through June 30, 2014.

The task force is a collaboration of stakeholders (Optional One-Cent recipient groups, the city, the county, Forward Sheridan, the Chamber of Commerce and Sheridan Travel and Tourism) that develops and implements consistent messaging about economic development in Sheridan.

The funds will be administered by the Sheridan County Chamber of Commerce and will be used to maintain the “Why Sheridan” marketing campaign on local websites and media outlets, to grow an online business property database at www.wyomingsites.com, to foster community and social media outreach efforts and to gather economic information through presenters and conferences.

“They’ve shown me, from the monies we allocated last year, that they can handle the responsibility. They manage it well, and they get results,” Lee said.

In other business:
• The council approved first reading of the WESCO rezone from Business 1 to Business 2 for land located along Dry Ranch Road. The second reading will be held at noon May 14 in conjunction with a budget work session, and the final reading will be at the next council meeting May 20.

• Members of city council approved decreasing the cost of beer and wine permits to $10 for the Chamber of Commerce, the Downtown Sheridan Association, T&C Liquors and Star Liquor for Third Thursday Street Festival events this summer.

• New Junior Council members were sworn in: Dylan Lindly, Lexi Kooper and Tyler Julian.

About

Hannah Wiest is the government and outdoors reporter for The Sheridan Press. She has lived in Colorado and Montana but loves her sunny home state of Wyoming best. She joined The Press staff in February 2013.

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