SHERIDAN — Sheridan’s Economic Development Task Force brought in a consultant last week to provide training and fresh ideas to rejuvenate economic development efforts in Sheridan.
Business speaker Patrick McGaughey’s presentation, “Effective Partnerships in Economic Development” highlighted the importance of communication, teamwork and sharing credit for accomplishments. McGaughey used his background working in economic development efforts in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, and other chambers of commerce to offer tailored advice to Sheridan’s EDTF. When asked how he could be most helpful, Sheridan County Chamber of Commerce CEO Dixie Johnson led the charge in explaining why he had been invited to speak.
“I think we have a valuable group here together. The EDTF was formed in 2011 and we’ve made some headway. I think we’re doing some really great things, but we’ve had some hiccups,” Johnson said. “We’ve had some people who are not, for whatever reason, as devoted as they were initially to the group effort, and maybe it’s because frustrations or whatever. Some things that have happened are people have gone outside the group, so to speak, with some other initiatives and that sort of thing.
What’ I’d like to see is how we can take what we’ve already established, our foundation and continue to be of the best service of Sheridan and work together so we don’t loose everything we’ve gained at this point.”
Sheridan County Administrative Director Renee Obermueller added to Johnson’s inquiry.
“Help us take competition out of our effort — to not be competitive with each other and instead be competitive with other communities,” she said.
McGaughey shared, via academic language and supplemental stories, that economic development best takes root when individual accomplishment is put on the back burner.
“Credit, I believe, is the number one roadblock in creating and keeping alliances like this,” he said, offering an elaboration on an old rule of thumb.
“It’s the number one rule in business. If you read any business book, any leadership book at all, the number one rule of the business is you get what you give,” McGaughey said. “Is it always true? No, it’s a rule, and rules are meant to be broken, but not by us.
“Great leaders don’t break the rules. Other people that are coming up, trying to reach up, trying to find a sneaky way to get there, they break the rules. But, it shouldn’t be us. We have to be disciplined. We have to understand the great credit, when given away, the people that know, know.”
McGaughey went on to explain that people who attribute success to others and their team or group ultimately benefit on an individual level as a collateral effect. In addition, because the credit was given to naturally, it eliminates the majority of potential for conflict, jealousy or perceptions of unfairness.
“We live in a country where people love humble people. People love people that give it all away, and then you get to ride along on the tsunami,” he said.
“The number one recipients in economic development don’t do what they do to be self-serving, totally,” he said. “They understand when they’re self-serving, everybody else wins. They understand rising tide lifts all ships.”
McGaughey went on to discuss strategies for teamwork, project planning and managing multiple, diverse resources for economic development.
Also at Friday’s meeting of Sheridan’s EDTF:
• Forward Sheridan Executive Director Jay Stender provided the group with an update about his recent attendance at the Montana Energy Conference with a small contingent of representatives from Sheridan. He discussed several leads for oil, gas and coal development in the Powder River Basin that might translate into increased business for Sheridan Companies.
Stender’s update initiated a conversation surrounding the apparent uptick in energy excavation business in the surrounding region. In addition to oil and gas exploration, Stender discussed progress made in establishing a shipping port in Washington with the ultimate goal of more efficient, U.S. based export of coal to Asia.
Stender also indicated the EDTF is planning to provide representation at another energy conference in Casper next month.
• Sheridan Travel and Tourism Executive Director Shawn Buckley revealed the EDTF’s newly remodeled website, wysheridanworks.com, received 1500 unique visitors last month.
“The most impressive stat that I’ve seen is they’re spending around four and a half minutes on the site. That’s a strong number. They’re definitely digesting some information on the site. Comparatively, at STT, we’re fighting for a little over two minutes, which is strong,” Buckley said, indicating the next step for him is to motivate the site’s audience to reach out to EDTF members.
• The task force discussed the upcoming Rocky Mountain Leather Trade Show and the opportunity it provides to recruit a niche manufacturer.