Local groups get first nod for state grants

SHERIDAN — The Wyoming Business Council’s board of directors moved to approve a pair of grants aimed at spurring economic development in Sheridan Thursday.

At a meeting in Casper, the group gave a preliminary go-ahead to efforts from both the Sheridan Economic and Educational Development Authority and the Downtown Sheridan Association.

The applications now go before the State Loan and Investment Board, which includes Gov. Matt Mead and other top elected officials for final approval.

Sheridan Planning and Economic Development Director Robert Briggs said that while nothing is guaranteed, that body typically follows the recommendations of the Business Council board of directors.

Applied for in conjunction with the city of Sheridan, the DSA grant looks to revitalize vacant storefronts in the city’s downtown district.

If approved, the $25,000 grant would go toward hiring a firm to take stock of the area’s existing resources and their potential business uses.

The effort is in keeping with the DSA’s 2010 economic development strategy and its goal of spurring economic activity in the area.

DSA Executive Director Stacie Coe said a higher utilization of Sheridan’s downtown buildings could lead to an increased tax base and a more vibrant downtown.

An additional $8,340 in matching funds would be contributed from the city’s economic development professional services budget should the grant get final approval.
Coe said the precise scope of the project has yet to be determined.

SEEDA’s request weighed in at closer to $50,000 and would be used to fund a study taking stock of the area’s existing educational infrastructure and opportunities for industry development.

Planners expect the study will be supplemented by about $25,000 in SEEDA funds and $16,000 in matching funds from the city.

Set to be conducted in two separate phases, the first portion will focus on analyzing the existing workforce and educational opportunities currently available in Sheridan.

From there, organizers will conduct an in-depth economic analysis of the area in order to determine how area industries and institutions might best adapt to changing times.
The group hopes to finish the economic analysis portion of the study sometime this summer.

About

Paolo Cisneros

Paolo Cisneros joined The Sheridan Press staff in August 2012. He covers business, energy and public safety. A Chicago native, he graduated with a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2011.

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